Sherlocked – the convention

Where shall I start writing about an weekend that was stuffed with such a variety of experiences that still are not sorted in my mind – probably never will?

At the beginning there was this series on telly I fell in love with a couple of years ago. BBC’s „Sherlock“ is a treat not only because of the extraordinary professionals that are dealing with bringing a modern Sherlock Holmes to life in our modern times. But it brings fans and crew together in a way that is fascinating and heartwarming at the same time.

Excited and scared at the same time
So when Sherlock the official convention was announced earlier this year, it soon was clear that fans started planning their trip to London – fans from all over the world. And when it finally was time to walk into ExCel, the exhibition and convention centre in London for registration and picking up some items, I – being a totally con newbie – was excited, thrilled and a bit scared. Excited and thrilled because I would finally meet Benedict Cumberbatch in real life, scared because I totally had no clue how not to behave like a idiot and not to fall over while waiting in the queue for my first photoshoot with a man I adore both as a brilliant actor and as a human being. When it was my turn to walk the few steps in front of the camera, I was totally calm and relaxed just because I looked at him while waiting. And although it was only a matter of a few seconds, I obviously managed to say „Good morning, so nice to meet you finally“. Obviously because Benedict looked at me (I mean those eyes!!) and saying „How are you? Nice to meet you, too“ (that voice!!) he put his hand on my shoulder. Seconds later, the camera has fixed that moment forever, Benedict answered my „Thank you, have a nice day“ with a „Have a nice day, too. Take care“ and it was my turn to grab my pic, stroll outside, meet my best friends and other fans who smiled at me who had survived her first BenMoment ever.

A smile at the end of a long day
When I met Benedict for a second shoot inside the 221B Baker Street set, it was almost the end of a long day. He, sitting in Sherlock’s chair, looking tired, gave me a smile. „How are you?“ „Tired, but fine. Has been a long day.“ „Yes“, he answered and while I desperately tried not to fall off or into John’s chair, I realised Benedict murmured something like „Take care, the chair is very low“. Only seconds later I crawled out of the chair, hoping not to fall over my own feet and straight in front of Benedict’s shoes. „Thank you and all the best for you“, I stumbled, looking for seconds straight into his eyes, eyes that brightened (seemed that my voice was still functioning) while Benedict gave me a lovely smile „Aw.That’s very nice. Thank you. Take care“ and I was out of the set again.

I have no idea how others went through these moments, how it was for them meeting Benedict and all the other actors. I found Benedict as lovely, nice, charming and polite as I ever thought he would be. And I respect him even more considering the fact that he must have met hundreds of fans in only one hour, maybe a thousand when the day came to an end. A day where I saw him on stage for a Q&A with fans and introducing a screening of Scandal in Belgravia that wrapped up my day, where he was funny, cheeky and a joy to watch and listen to.

Andrew’s yellow chucks
But there was a con world beyond Benedict, too. And it was thrilling and exciting meeting lots of the other actors. One of my highlights was Andrew Scott’s photoshoot and him signing my pic later. It seems he was really enjoying his time, looking straight at me when I walked over to him for the photoshoot, smiling and giggling as if he was meeting and old friend. A bright smile welcomed me later when it was my turn for getting Andrew’s autograph. „You left me a crying mess after ‚Pride‘,“ I said, causing him to look baffled at me. „But it’s all fine now that you are wearing yellow chucks.“ „Yaaah, chucks are cool, aren’t they?“ Andrew laughed out loud, smiled while he was handing my pic over.

Lars Mikkelsen who made me feel even more tiny at my photoshoot, seemed pleased and smiled when I said „The Team“ hooked me. Una Stubbs greeted me with open arms and made me feel as we could have tea together instantly. Louise Brealey hugged me, asked when I was returning to Germany, ordered nice weather when she learned I had another day in London for strolling round the city (thx, btw, it worked perfectly) and left me with another warm hug, saying „Meet you on Twitter“.

Besides photoshoots and signing, I attended talks with Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Lars Mikkelsen and Andrew Scott, watched a special effect show with Danny Hargreaves and unfortunately missed others. But I met lovely people literally from all over the world. People who were funny, kind, intelligent, interested in such a variety of things and very polite in ignoring my English. People who were friendly enough recognising me behind my Twitter account and started a chat and whom I hopefully will meet again online and in RL. People who are sharing the same love for a fandom which is able to communicate with quotes alone and which hopefully will stay a kind and friendly one.

Yes, this weekend was packed with a huge schedule and it was exhausting. But is was definitely worth it.

What Alan Turing was looking for at Ebermannstadt

It is not a peculiarity of our times that the NSA – America’s National Security Agency – wants to know everything, even in the most distant places of our planet. And Ticom (Target Intelligence Commitee), NSA’s predecessor, wanted just the same.

In the Second World War the future of the free world also depended on their spy work and therefore it isn’t surprising at all that Ticom of course knew about the activities at Feuerstein Castle near Ebermannstadt, in the northern part of Bavaria, Germany. Activities which were peculiar and mysterious at the same time. NSA documents which cover that part of history are only known to the public since 2009. They prove the fact that the British mathematician Alan Turing was on his way to Ebermannstadt in the last months of WW II. According to that documents German physician Oskar Vierling worked within the castle. The building which never has been a castle, was masked as a hospital – including the sign of the Red Cross on its roof – but was in fact a laboratory run by the Wehrmacht and the German Foreign Office. Up to 250 people worked in Feuerstein Castle on encryption, radio links and on the improvement of the encryption machine SZ 42.  Vierling who in 1941 established  the company that today still bears his name, worked on signals that should control torpedoes and set mines on fire.

On April 16th 1945, some three weeks before Nazi Germany surrendered on May 8th, Ticom secret agents arrived at Feuerstein Castle. The American and British experts on news and communication technique were hitchhiking all the way through Germany till they arrived in Upper Franconia. The last part up to the castle itself, they walked. They hoped to find German encryption devices there, not because they hoped to use it for themselves. „It was much more important that these devices were not lost to the Russians,“ Rudolf Staritz, a tech expert on news, says.

„Turing wasn’t able to breach Vierling’s messages.“

Alan Turing came across Vierling much earlier. Turing who at that time was breaking German messages at Bletchley Park, the central site of the United Kingdom’s Government Code and Cypher School known for its efficiency and its brilliant minds. But the messages which went to and from Feuerstein Castle and the German town of Hannover on a regular bases, remained a mystery even to genius Turing. „Turing wasn’t able to breach Vierling’s messages. So he wanted to go to Feuerstein and find out what was going on there for himself,“ Staritz says. The NSA documents don’t reveal, however, how long Alan Turing stayed at Feuerstein Castle in the spring of 1945. That the brilliant codebreaker was actually there, experts consider as a fact. „There are lots of legends when it comes to Turing’s life. But we can take it for granted that he was in Ebermannstadt,“ Jochan Viehoff says. He is Head of Nixdorf Museum in the German town Paderborn.

It seems that after the war, in April 1945, Vierling soon attached himself to the new situation – according to Ticom report dated May 1st 1945: „When Vierling and some of his colleagues were found, they were very eager to talk about their work and agreed to help rebuilding the lab and the parts of the project, so they could go on with their work.“ The secret agents assumed that Vierling hoped to continue his work within his laboratory at Feuerstein Castle after the end of Nazi regime. But the cooperation terminated when allies‘ superiors on August 16th 1945 ordered Vierling’s arrest. The agents removed all interiors and research results from Feuerstein. Staritz doesn’t believe they used it for their own research. „The Americans technically were much superior compared to the Germans.“

More about Alan Turing on this blog click here.
Learn more about Alan Turing here.

The German version of this article was originally published in Fränkischer Tag on January 22nd 2015.
The author, Christoph Hägele, kindly granted the permission to translate it.

Das Leben der Rebecca Jones

Es ist eine bäuerliche, kleine und überschaubare Welt, in die Rebecca Jones hineingeboren wird. Anfang des vergangenen Jahrhunderts scheint das Leben im Maesglasau-Tal in Wales so, wie es schon immer war, seit ihre Familie vor über tausend Jahres begonnen hat, hier Land zu bewirtschaften. Drei Brüder – William und Gruff werden blind geboren, Lewis erblindet als Kind – verlassen wegen ihrer Behinderung das Tal und erhalten wegen oder trotz ihrer Blindheit eine Ausbildung, werden Akademiker, ihre Reise fort aus Wales „führte von der walisischen Sprache und Kultur in eine andere Sprache und Kultur, sie führte fort aus Wales in ein anderes Land“, England nämlich. Rebecca und ihr Bruder Bob bleiben, weil den Eltern das Geld fehlt, im Dorf. Bob wird Bauer wider Willen, Rebecca Näherin, eine Tätigkeit, die sie befriedigt und die ihr eine gewisse Unabhängigkeit sichert.

RebeccaJones

Das Buchcover Foto: Petra Breunig

 

Angharad Price erschafft in „Das Leben der Rebecca Jones“ eine Welt, die es nicht mehr gibt. Ihre wunderbare Sprache macht diese Welt aber unvergesslich, genauso wie das Buch. Die vorliegende Ausgabe übersetzte Gregor Runge aus der englischen Fassung, die wiederum von Angharad Price selbst geschrieben wurde. Das einzige, was ich – außer dem Ende der Erzählung – bedauernswert finde, ist dass ich das walisische Original mangels Sprachkenntnis nicht lesen kann.

 

Angharad Price: Das Leben der Rebecca Jones, dtv, 15,99 Euro