June 2016 Extra

Visitors to this month’s Memory Cafe Extra on June 20th entered the realm of espionage and the ‘Cold War’.
A word-search based on ‘Spies and Detectives’ led on to a fascinating illustrated talk by Brook Blackford, a local resident and Parish Councillor. Brook was an RAF pilot for thirty years, reaching the rank of Wing Commander before being seconded to the British Embassy from where, after a tough ‘crash course’ in Russian he spent seven years working behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ ostensibly as an interpreter and liaison officer but in fact as an information gatherer or spying on Russian planes, tanks and equipment. He gave us a revealing insight into his experiences in a world of secrecy and suspicion, which included guns, prohibited areas and secret photographs, Russian soldiers, East German secret police and borders guards.

During the 1970s and 1980s Brook and his wife Salli spent time in Prague and Berlin where they saw the poverty and dereliction behind the Berlin Wall and the changes which occurred when the wall finally came down which also saw the end of Brook’s work in Europe. Richard showed everyone a small piece of the Berlin Wall, and we looked at contemporary photos of its construction, its effect on the lives of Berliners and its final destruction in 1989.

Teatime gave us a chance to chat and discuss with each other and with Brook about our own memories of those years, and to compare the eye-opening firsthand experiences of which we had just heard with what we had been told by press reports at the time.

After a brief sing-along session of familiar songs, we tackled some code-breaking exercises of our own which proved quite challenging but were met with considerable success!

It was a most thought-provoking and varied afternoon and our thanks go to Brook for sharing with us his first-hand experiences of some key moments in twentieth century history.
Our next meetings will be held on Monday 4th July and Monday 18th July from 2pm – 4pm at Crantock Village Hall. New members are always welcome and we are open to anyone concerned about memory loss, with their carers.  For more information ring Di on 01637 830544 or Joan on 01637 831347.