This is 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. 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. Produced in association with Bletchley Park.