John Taylor: Bletchley Park sing song

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O’ how one yearns to be a thespian, darlinks.

To stride the boards; throw one’s arms wide in broad, sweeping gestures, and – oblivious to the cat calls – nimbly dodge the deluge of squelchy tomatoes.

Well that’s probably the case in some ‘am drams’, but certainly not the Bletchley Park productions during the Second World War, where the wealth of intellectual (and often eccentric) talent ensured productions of the highest standard.

In fact many were arranged by Major Douglas Jones.

In civilian life he was Mr. Jones, a schoolteacher, who had personal experience of performing through having sung at the end of Weston Super Mare pier in the summer of 1938.

During the war the Bletchley Park Drama Group raised a sum of around £3,000 through their several quality productions, and Park personnel also contributed to other entertainments in the town.

In fact as ‘a genuine Bletchley Park eccentric’ Sheridan Russell, possessed of ‘an unusual personality,’ and a gypsy like appearance, was an accomplished cellist who, for the benefit of the Bletchley Red Cross Working Party, assisted at a piano recital by Maurice Cole, of the London Promenade Concerts and B.B.C.

This was held in the Bletchley Senior School hall, and tickets, ‘reserved and numbered’ had been priced at 3s 6d, 2s 6d, and unreserved 1s 6d.

In fact Sheridan’s musical competence was further evidenced through having been ‘the spare man’ of the famed Lener String Quartet, of Hungarian origin.

As for Bletchley’s home grown talent the town can boast Robert Douglas.

Having served in the Fleet Air Arm during WW2, he became a swashbuckling Hollywood film star, whose story was told in a previous article.

But now I must away my luvvies, for my audience awaits. Well, at least the dog does.

Getting increasingly agitated for his evening bowl of Whoofy Chunks.