My wife and I played tourist in London lately.
It’s not that we hadn’t spent much time in the city before. In fact, we’d spent lots of time over the years from living and working in the south for BT in the 90s, to watching our daughter graduate from the London School of Economics; but it had been a long time since we had just played ‘tourist’.
I suppose that’s a fairly normal thing for people living near destinations. The sites of Washington, DC are a mere 40 minutes away from us, but we rarely visit them.
So we found ourselves in London for three free days. My Dad had always lauded the Churchill War Rooms as a must-see. So on the first morning we lined-up with others for an hour or so until we could go down into his mothballed WWII bunker.
Operational in August 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war in Europe, the Churchill War Rooms comprised an underground complex that housed a British government command center beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster. One area of many that really caught my eye was a small closet which according to the placard was built in 1943 and housed a direct cable link from London to Washington – from Churchill to Roosevelt, and later Truman, which was most likely built in utmost secrecy by my former employer. (It was rumored at the time that amongst the other bunker’s less-informed occupants the room was Churchill’s private WC with real running water!) I surmised this cable link became a key lifeline between the two allies, as well as the vehicle to agree the next steps to manage the eventual roll back.
In the era of Orlando, Nice and Turkey, the thought of that ancient communications closet offers me some reassurance.