Straighten Up and Fly Right!
I’d like to begin tonight by thanking everyone who came to see my show last Saturday at Bletchley Park. It was an amazing day as I performed two sets in the ballroom. Initially I had been booked to perform on the lawn for the concert series but due to the changeable showery weather we relocated to the ballroom which proved to be the right decision as the heavens decided to open later that afternoon.
It’s always a great honour to perform at Bletchley Park. Famous for code breaking during WW2 the heritage site is steeped in history. It’s fascinating to read up about it as the estate dates back to the 11th century and was even mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
The name ‘Bletchley Park’ was first used after Samuel Lipscomb Seckham bought the estate in 1877. He sold the property to Sir Herbert Samuel Leon in 1883. Leon extended
On Stage in the Ballroom!
the house and in 1938 the mansion was purchased by a builder who then sold the property to Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair.
Admiral Sinclair was the head of the SIS (later to become M6) and he wanted a headquarters for the SIS and the Government Code and Cypher School (later to become GCHQ). The government approved the idea but had no budget for the purchase so Sinclair bought the property with his own money, paying £6,000 for the mansion and the 581 acre sight.
The location was perfect for its intended purpose; it stood beside the Bletchley railway station, on the direct line between Oxford and Cambridge with easy access to London. Sinclair anticipated that most of the codebreakers housed on sight would come from the Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Personnel at Bletchley came from a wide variety of backgrounds,
Bletchley Park Library!
from linguists to people good at solving cryptic crosswords, but most importantly, mathematicians. Formally trained mathematicians such as Alan Turing, Peter Twinn, and Gordon Welchman were recruited. Many of the top codebreakers were men, but Joan Clarke was one of the few female cryptanalysts who rose to become the deputy head of Hut 8 – the Codebreaking Hut where the Enigma machine was finally cracked. By 1945 there were 2,660 civilian female personnel working on site, 2594 Wrens, 1,096 WAAF and 408 ATS.
Dressed for my Second Set!
This was my third appearance at Bletchley Park and I always like to do something different. Music is a wonderful way of paying tribute to the men and women who worked at Bletchley during the war years and having performed my ATS “We’ll Meet Again”and Wrens shows “The Fleets in Port Again” in the past. Last Saturday I returned with my WAAF show “Straighten Up and Fly Right”. I included all sorts of aeronautical classics from “Dambusters”, “He Wears a Pair of Silver Wings” to “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines” to name but a few.
Meeting Up with Alan Turing!
It’s important to include plenty of variety and for my second set I returned with favourites from the Hollywood movie musicals, Postmodern and concluded with a Last Night of the Proms, Best of British finale. I also performed a couple of my favourite arias singing in Italian and French “O Mio Babbino Caro” from “Gianni Schicchi” and the “Flower Duet for Lakme'”. Both went down extremely well with the audience, especially my Lakme’ as it was written in 1883 about the same time when Bletchley Park was built which suited the ballroom perfectly.
Out-side Hut 11A!
This week I’ve had shows every-day and today I was booked to perform Postmodern. This type of music is very on trend at the moment and it’s all about reworking popular modern music into different vintage genres, from the early 20th century such as swing and jazz. Today I was performing in Enfield and I sang a mixture of songs including Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call me Maybe”, Gloria Gaynor’s “I will Survive” and my favourite Meghan Trainor’s “All About the Bass”. I’m also a big fan of Caro Emerald’s work and “That Man” and “A Night Like This” are two of my favourites which suits this type of show and genre well.
I’m constantly learning new material and I will be back in the recording studio on the 28th picking up tracks and commissioning arrangements for Christmas and next year. Postmodern is something I wish to develop further and it’s great fun to sing something modern in a vintage way. Who’d of thought
Bletchley Park’s Famous Door Griffin!
I would be singing Lady Gaga! Another one I have on my radar is Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise so keep watching this space – seeing will be believing!
Next week I’m away on holiday as I head down to one of my favourite haunts Battle near Hastings. I can’t wait to have a few days away while I recharge my batteries. In the meantime I will leave you with a few of my snap-shots from Bletchley Park. My best photos are yet to come and I shall keep you posted. Harry is away at the moment but I hope to get his photos back when I return home from holiday. I look forward to sharing my photos with you then.
Keep Following Toodle Pip and Bye for Now!