Wills Hall Association presents: A Grand Gossip: the Bletchley Park Diary of Basil Cottle (1917-94), lecturer in the Department of English, as sub-warden of Burwalls to 1973

1 February 2018, 6.00 PM - 1 February 2018, 7.30 PM

Wills Hall,Parrys Ln, Bristol, BS9 1AE

The Wills Hall Association are delighted to invite you to the launch of a very rare survival – a contemporary diary from Bletchley Park, kept by a man for whom conversation was the essential oil of daily life, both inside and outside the office.

Many will recall Dr Basil Cottle (1917-94), whether as lecturer in the Department of English, as sub-warden of Burwalls to 1973, through his numerous publications, or as a lively raconteur – his anecdotes occasionally touching on his war experience as a code-breaker at Bletchley Park. By good fortune, the daily diary he kept at Bletchley – by turns frank and funny - has survived, and has now been published.

Basil Cottle arrived at Bletchley Park in September 1943, after medical discharge from the Army. He worked in Hut 6 (Block D) on Enigma material, staying on after VE day to work on Albanian, before a long career at the University of Bristol. Well aware of BP security rules, Cottle usually refers only obliquely to the content of his work – but gives free rein to his opinion of colleagues, landladies, and anyone he bumps into on his days off. We’re left in no doubt who he gets on with, and who is a pain. He records amusing scraps of conversation, arguments won and lost, lunch-time diversions, the strains of shiftworking, the impact of the newly-arrived US Army contingent, and a host of detail about getting by in wartime conditions. Cottle, a gifted illustrator, took great delight in drawing fantasy birds for BP colleagues. The book reproduces many of these, and their accompanying comic verses.

Refreshments will be available and there will be a short appreciation of Dr Cottle, and the diary editors (both retired GCHQers) will outline what it tells us about the highs and lows of life in the secret world.

Copies will be available at the special launch price of £8 (instead of £11.95 if bought from Amazon).

Cost: Free

Booking information: This event is now fully booked. To add your name to the waiting list, please visit the eventbrite page.