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Do you miss the thrill of a live moth show? Then get your fix at one of our upcoming virtual stories, Lambs and Grand Slams held on Mondays throughout April. Don't miss our Earth themed story slams and making waves. Our Grand Slam come out and share your story or listen to stories from your community. Find tickets, dates and times at the moth dogs events. From NPR, this is The Moth Radio Hour. I'm Meg Bowles, and in this hour, we have three stories from our London mainstage.


Our first story comes from Tim Fitz hiim in addition to being a writer, comedian and artist, Tim also holds several world records for unusual feats, including paddling a paper boat down 160 miles of the River Thames and personally inflating the world's largest balloon to raise awareness for environmental issues.


Here's Tim Kitayama live at the mall. Imagine, if you will, I'm out rowing in the middle of the English Channel. It's a lovely stretch of water. It's very difficult to row, however, and I'm rowing quite quickly, really, really quite quickly, fast.


It's the fastest I've ever rode in my life. It's so fast that my lungs are beginning to die.


And the reason for this incredible burst of speed, some would say legendary burst of speed, is that just there in this picture of me rowing at this angle just behind me, just bearing down on me is an oil tanker.


It's a third of a mile long and it is bearing down on me with really incredible speed, which is why I am rowing faster than anyone has ever rowed in their lives. I am desperately trying to get out of the way of that massive, massive oil tanker. Did I mention, by the way, that I am sitting rowing in a bathtub? And. It's at moments like this, you question how these things happened. I think it started in a bathtub, very like the one that I was rowing in about eight months beforehand, I was lying in the bath and I had this idea.


I was thinking to myself, I wonder if anyone has ever rowed the English Channel in a bathtub.


And then I started looking it up. And the more I looked it up and the more I thought about it, the more it looked like no one had ever rode the English Channel in a bathtub. And the more I looked at this, I thought someone should row the English Channel in a bathtub. And then the more I thought about this, the more I thought, you know what? The person that schiro the English Channel in a bathtub, that should be me.


That person should be me. And I said this to some friends of mine. I said, I'm going to throw the English Channel in a bathtub. And they said, good luck with that. And so I started to go into the preparations for this. Now, the first and I'm sure you're all very aware that the key preparation for this was get a bathtub. So I found hundreds of bathroom companies have filled hundreds and hundreds of bathtub companies and nobody would get involved in what I thought was an incredible project until finally one of them wrote back to me.


I got my bathroom company and not just any Boston company. I got the finest bathroom company in the entire world to give me a bath. I got a bath from Thomas Crapper and company, a third of a ton rolltop Victorian copper bathtub, that sort of thing that you see in a museum, a fantastically beautiful piece of bathroom kit. It goes up and has a fluted roll top. It's a gorgeous Victorian artifact. And on that beautiful artifact, I screwed to outriggers from a rowing boat that would take the center of gravity slightly further out, which would help me to spread the weight over a wider area.


So hopefully I'll be more balanced and I wouldn't sink.


Secondly, a problem began to arise in my mind.


Turns out that the English Channel turns out to be the busiest shipping lane in the world. There are more tankers, container ships, frigates and just general traffic going up and down that tiny stretch of water than any other stretch of water in the entire world. And some of these tankers, as discussed, are huge. But what I didn't realize is that they also have giant stopping distances. Some of their stopping distances are 15 miles. And that means that by the time they have seen you and applied the brake, they have already gone through you and somebody is calling the undertaker.


This is like and they go north to south, these tankers and container ships and frigates. And I have to go from east to west, from England to France. So I am going to be like crossing the busiest motorway in the world at right angles to the direction of traffic, riding a concrete snail.


This is problem number one, the second problem is that half of the English Channel turns out to be owned not by Great Britain, but by the French. Now. I wrote to the French government and I said, no, this is what I'm going to do, I'm going to read the English Channel in a bathtub and they were kind and they were generous and they were helpful. They sent me tons of stuff to read. And all the time they were going into the French parliament and passing a new clause in the Shipping Act of France, making it illegal to throw a bathtub in French water.


So what I did is I went to the Ministry of Transport in Whitehall. And I said, now this is what we're going to do. Gentlemen, we are going to register my bath as a registered British ship.


And to my shock, horror and amazement, they said, yes, fair enough to make a plan. Yeah. They put me on the captain's register, they gave me a small ship's registration certificate. They sent me a letter that genuinely said, Dear Mr. Fitz Hyam, please find enclosed the paperwork for your newly registered British shipping vessel Brackett's bathtub post Brackett's. Please keep it with you at all times and in all places, even on the high seas, we think the French are going to want to see this.


To assist you in this aim, please, funding closed, we've had it laminated. I don't think I have ever been prouder to be British than when I looked down and saw in my hand laminated paperwork. There was another problem that I became aware of, and that is that I couldn't row and I also know nothing about the sea, nothing at all, never been on it. And so I found loads of people to try and get someone to talk to me about the sea.


I tried all the various organizations I could think of. Nobody had time to talk to me about the sea. I tried the Coast Guard. They seem to be busy. In the end, I did what anyone would do in this situation. In total desperation, I phoned the Royal Navy and by mistake at the switchboard, I got put through to an admiral, as it turned out. Now, the only sailor who's ever existed in my entire family is a great uncle.


And he said to me a long time ago, Tim, if ever you're talking to a member of Her Majesty's Royal Navy, he said, always start the conversation with the question, how are your facts, old man? What the heck is emphatic? I had absolutely no idea, but I thought, I'll give it a go, so I said car, Rear Admiral, how are you buttocks, old man. And he replied at the furthest reach DeBois at the farthest reach.


Now, I asked my uncle about this, my great uncle, and he said yes to him, that is the correct nautical response to the question, how are your father's old man? He said, that's fantastic, uncle, but what does it actually mean? He said, well, that's the thing to him. Nobody actually knows if there's something incredibly British about the fact we have both just had a conversation, but neither of us had understood a single word or we might as well have just said ostrich Harry Gussets strapped rear admiral.


Yes, Razmi Frenchman Tasmina Blue asked his dear boy.


But the both of us were just too darn British polite to admit to the fact we didn't understand. Now, after this slightly weird beginning of the conversation, we in the rear admiral getting on really rather well. And after a while I plucked up the courage to say, you know, this vessel that we're talking about taking across the busiest shipping lane in the world, you you do know it's a bath. And then the line went dead and then the line crackled into life and the voice said, well, same rules of navigation, by the way.


I'm on board. So in one second, I suddenly had the Royal Navy backing the project now then I decided to do what any great British explorer I'd ever heard about has ever done in the history of Britain. I decided to write to the queen and tell her what I was planning to do and say, you know, do you mind if I have a crack at the channel in a bathtub? And to my shock, horror and amazement, she wrote back.


Should we just recap on what's going on here? I've set off to row the channel in a bath, and I now have a letter from the queen saying, not only do I not mind you rowing the channel in the bathtub, you have my heartiest support. Good luck and let me know how you get on. Now, just to get back to this, I'm in front of a tanker. OK, what's happened is, I mean, a third of a ton rolltop Victorian copper bathtub.


There's a tanker bearing down on me. It's a third of a mile long. I'm rowing like no one has ever rode in their lives before, desperately trying to get out of the way of this thing. It's a terrifying thing because about two hours beforehand, I had taken what, as it transpired, was not a very good navigating decision. I had thought two hours ago, I reckon I could probably get round the front of that, as it turned out.


So I'm rowing in front of a tanker as fast as I possibly can, and my only thought is I'm about to die. I'm about to get killed in the English Channel in a third of a ton rolltop copper piece of Victorian bathroom equipment. And there's one thought that popped into my head.


And that thought was quite simply, who has right of way?


Now, in my bath, I had a radio and the Sailor's Almanac, and so as I was frantically trying to roll with one arm, I was flipping through the Sailors Almanac, desperately trying to get to the page that tells you about who has right of way and the English Channel. And I finally got to it and I read it and it says, massive big tankers like the one about to crash into me. I have to give way to sailing ships.


Sailing ships have to give way to rowing ships, rowing ships have to give way to rowing ships of restricted maneuverability. And that's got to be me and a third of a ton rolltop Victorian a bathtub. And so I grabbed the radio and radioed up to the tanker captain and said, I am in a bath, I'm in a bar, but down, back down, I am in the bath over now. Then the weirdest thing happened, which is that the tanker did divert around a bathtub for the first time in the maritime history of the world and create what the admiral later called a naval precedent in law.


He said this is the first time in the maritime history of the globe that a tanker has burnt down to a piece of plumbing on the high seas. We are going to name that precedent in law after you shoot him the first time precedents, you could look it up. Lawyers. However, the problem wasn't over yet because I carried on rowing out in the English Channel and then something went a little bit awry in that the mist started to come in.


And then very quickly, as happens at sea, suddenly there was a massive storm that hit the English Channel. It's a terrifying thing to be. And any storm this was a force seven for people who don't go to see 047 will give you waves of the height of sort of three, three and a half meters. At one point, the storm got so bad at arole top of the Victorian copper bath, it popped out of the water. I realized I was essentially ballast dived across the boat, pushed it back in with my shoulder and ripped my shoulder so badly on the serrated edge of the bath that it went all floppy and stopped working.


But I thought to myself with one arm, I can still keep running through this. I am British. I carried on going and survived in that fought in that horrible storm for 40 minutes, having lost the support boat totally on my own, rowing with one arm. And after 40 minutes they found me because apparently for 40 minutes I have been heroically rowing in a giant circle. They pulled me back in, but the disaster wasn't over yet because we were in French water.


The French Navy came on the radio and said that their solution to the bath channel, they were calling me a problem. Their solution was to put explosives on my bath and blow it out of the water.


Now, I had lost a lot of blood at this stage, and I wasn't thinking very clearly from ARM, but I went on the radio and apparently said the following just to remind you that the sinking of a registered British ship without the permission of the captain will be taken as an act of war.


In Dover, you could just hear the Coast Guard going.


Now, the French then went away and looked this up in the legal book, right, and they worked out actually in law, I was right now then something very moving occurred because votes came from all the other nations in the English Channel, mainly Holland and Belgium, to take me and my bathtub back to the U.K., which proved something vital to me.


And that is it's not just Britain, but all the other nations in the English Channel who hate the French. Now, I was in quite a bad way at this point, I had to go to hospital and get patched back up again, but thanks to the Navy, I got another crack at rowing the English Channel in my bathtub. And I did. I made it across the English Channel in the bath.


Now, in the end, I ended up due to a bet that went wrong, rowing the bath tub, not just across the English Channel, but round can turn up to Tower Bridge. The fire ships came out that were last used at Winston Churchill's funeral and lots of amazing things happened as a result of the both crossing. It raised a load of money for charity. I got made a Commodore in the Royal Navy. Which which is the fourth highest rank in the Royal Navy.


It basically goes first sea lord, second sea Lord, Princess and me. And I got my own flag and a port I'm in charge of a port and being the Navy, they have to put me in charge of a port, but they've chosen to put me in charge of the Port of Sudbury, which is 15 miles inland.


And then the weirdest thing happened in that I got a letter from the queen saying I had to go up to the palace for an audience with the queen. I got up to the palace. And normally you're not allowed to report anything that you say to the queen. There's this whole, like, Chatham House rules thing. But she has allowed me to say a couple of things that we talked about. She said to me, gosh, that bathtub must have been awfully heavy, must have weighed a half a ton.


And I thought this is my one moment of being bombed. And I just smoothed my hair down, looked at directly in the eye. And when I was actually a third of its own man, but still really rather heavy.


And then she said, But did you not think about putting a shower curtain on it? And I said, well, I didn't consider it, but I couldn't decide on the color, and she said, I think blue, don't you?


But more than all of these honors or more than all of these honors, I got a phone call from my beloved sponsor, Thomas Crapper and Company. Right. And they phoned me up more than anything else. This is the most amazing thing. They phoned me up and they said, Tim, in honor of the Bath Channel Crossing, we at Thomas Crapper and Company are going to release a commemorative lavatory, a commemorative toilet named after you. It's an amazing thing about Great Britain that I don't think perhaps it's something that I have found to be very, very true.


And I'll leave you with this thought that is that Great Britain is a land where you can turn to the great British public, look them directly in the eye and go, I'm going to do something really quite hard. You can say, I'm going to run up Kilimanjaro, I'm going to climb Everest. And the great British public will look you in the eye and they will go west. Not that hot. Or you can look him in the eye and go, I'm going to do something really quite hard, like run up Kilimanjaro or climb Everest or the English Channel dressed as a dolphin or carrying a fridge or wrestling a weasel.


And the great British public will look you directly in the eye and go. This man is a hero. Get right behind him. Ladies and gentlemen, someone get the prime minister on the phone. I don't know what it says about Britain as a nation, but I have broken my entire body to prove it to be true. Thanks so much for listening tonight. Tim Cations, second attempt to cross the English Channel in his bath, raised over 20000 pounds for Comic Relief and the Make Poverty History campaign.


He went on to write a book about his adventure entitled All at Sea, One Man, One Bathtub, One Very Bad Idea.


The bath now resides in the Maritime Museum of Great Britain. Coming up, a seamstress becomes an unexpected advocate when the Moth Radio Hour continues.


The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by Sparks.


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Visit Hendrick's Gin Dotcom Backslash Lunar delightfully smooth definitively. Hendriks, please enjoy the unusual responsibly. Hendrick's Gin 44 percent Alcohol by Volume 2021 Imported by William Grant and Sons Inc.. New York. New York. From Prick's, this is The Moth Radio Hour. I'm Meg Bowles, and our next story comes from Catherine Cross. Catherine is a seamstress and mother of two, and she told this story at the Union Chapel in London. And at our mainstage events, we like to introduce our storytellers by asking each one the same question.


Our host for the evening, Phill Jupitus, introduced Catherine like this.


I asked our next storyteller, when was the last time you took a risk? And she responded, I am risk averse. Which is not the response I was hoping for, so I pushed her and then she gave me an even more magnificent answer, which was. I let out a wedding dress to make the bride think she'd lost one. Which is either the most wonderful or the most evil thing I've ever heard, and I can't make up my mind, which is is LaserJet.


And please welcome Catherine Cross there is coming across. Come on. It was late in the evening when my 15 year old daughter came into the sewing room where I work at home. My kids would often come in and sit for a chat while I worked, but she was some kind of hanging around and seemed a bit uncomfortable. I ask, is everything OK? And she says, yeah, fine, but I knew something was on her mind, so I stopped selling and I said, come on out with it.


What's up? Shrugged her shoulders. I know I'm going to have to tease it out of her. So I keep asking and she keeps saying, it's nothing, Ma. So I said to her, you know, you can tell me anything, right? No, not this. She said, no, I'm worried. So eventually I drop his paper and a pen and I said, you might be able to write it down for me. So she sits down for what seems like eternity, looking at the paper.


And when she eventually writes something and hands it back to me, it reads, I'm gay. Oh, for God's sake, is that all I said? She doesn't matter towards me, don't be worrying about this whole person. So I still love you and I always will. No matter what. And we hug and she goes off happier in herself. When she's gone, I think I don't know what it is, but I don't think you're very funny really, because I always imagined you come out to me as being gay.


But the moment she said it, I knew that, wasn't it. I knew she was going to have to dig a bit deeper to figure out what was really going on over the next few weeks. She seems a lot happier in herself. But as the weeks turned into months, she's again becoming very withdrawn and not engaging with anybody. So when she comes back into the room again late one evening, I have this awful sense of foreboding that she's going to drop some other kind of bombshell on me.


So we go through the whole what's up again till. Finally, I say, are you trying to tell me you're not gay, and sure enough, she says, yeah, so what then? Silence. I'm afraid to ask the next question, but I ask it anyhow, and I said, is it something to do with gender? Do you want to be a boy? Oh, man, I think God made some awful kind of mistake, I don't want to be a boy.


I am a boy. OK, I will once again, everything's going to be just fine. I still love you and I always will. But could you just leave this one with me for a bit? Because I need a bit more time to get my head around this one. When she's gone, I think, oh, God, this can't be happening. Half of me thinks this kind of thing only happens on Jerry Springer. The other half things.


Yeah, sounds about right. I didn't know anything about transgender, to be honest, I thought it was men in drag and I definitely had never heard of a girl wanting to be a boy. We didn't actually speak about it for quite a number of weeks. I was secretly hoping that if I didn't mention it, we just all go away. So one day I tentatively broached the subject with her and I say tentatively, because I kind of feel that if I broach the subject with her, I'm somehow encouraging her to embark on this really difficult life, but difficult for who I felt people would judge me as a mother as well as our family.


I said, what do you want from life? Do you want surgery? You know, this is going to be really tough. You're not going to have any kids and you might not even have a partner. Could you not just be gay? I thought if I pointed out all the negative things, that she might somehow change her mind, I didn't realize at this point that for her it wasn't a choice. It's just simply who she was. I'm afraid things got a bit heated and I said some things that I'm really rather ashamed of.


You see, I've always prided myself on being a really good mother. I was very liberal and really open minded. But you see, it's easy to say those things when they're outside your front door. When I was confronted with them, it made me take a very long, hard look at myself. And to be honest, I didn't really like what I saw. I kept blaming myself and asking I should have insisted she played with girls toys. I should have made her wear girls clothes.


Then I ask myself, what's so bad about this anyway, I still have my child, she's not dead. She's not dying. Why am I so sad? Why does it feel like a death, I think back to the moment when she's born myself. My husband was so excited and we asked the nurse, well, what is it? And she says, you have a daughter. And in those first few seconds, I have images running like a movie in my head.


I see a toddler in a pink frilly dress and a 10 year old schoolgirl in a pinafore and bobby socks and then a woman. I was having coffee with me, but she'd never really worn that pink dress or the pinafore. Instead, she played with boys toys and worn boys' clothes. My friends have always commented, what is Hambo she was, but I always thought it was a bit more than that. I didn't know anything about transgender, so I didn't think it was that.


But I always thought there was something very different about her toilet training had been a nightmare, trying to convince her she had to sit down to pee. She couldn't do it, standing up like her older brother, that she'd always play with the boys and seemed kind of irritated by the girls and constantly asked why it was she could not go to the same school as her friends, the boys school. It was about a week after our heated conversation that I, by chance, heard a woman speaking on the radio, she was talking about being transgender in Ireland, and she gave details of her parents support group.


So myself, my husband decided we'd give it a go. I must admit, I didn't like going. There were really lovely people, but I didn't want to be part of that group. I just wanted it all to go away. But I also knew that no matter what I was going to support my child, I just didn't know how to do it. The support group organized a weekend away chance to meet other families and speak with professionals who were involved with the care of transgender people.


When we arrived at the hotel on the Friday night, I realized that my daughter already knew quite a lot of the young people there. She was friends with them on Facebook. But they didn't know my daughter. They knew my son, Lucas. Oh, how I hated that name, I realized I hadn't thought this through very well and that it was going to be a bit awkward if we were calling her one thing and everybody else was calling her another name.


So I quickly pulled to one side in the bar and I said, look, for this weekend, I'm going to try my very best to call you by your new name and use male pronouns. And she I should say he was delighted. Look at the place was miles away from anywhere nobody knew was. So I thought it was a safe place to try out my new son. Yeah, I know that sounds awful, but I really did need to just know what it would feel like.


It wasn't easy and it felt really, really strange, but he was so happy, I couldn't help but be happy for him to. And I thought. OK, so on this Saturday night, we all get dressed up and we go down to dinner. Lucas is dressed in a suit and a smart waistcoat and out of the dinner, there's a bit of a singsong in the bar. And Lucas spends most of the night playing guitar and singing songs.


He was really popular, couldn't get over how confident he was. And as I started looking at him in the bar and admiring him, I thought, you know, yeah, I'm still grieving the loss of my daughter, but I am just loving my new son. I thought, right, which is going to have to do this. We live in a small town where everybody knows everybody, and I was anticipating a lot of resistance to my child's new identity and I was quite prepared to move somewhere new if things got too tough for him.


I worried about how would I find the words to tell people and how to cope with the reactions. Cheapies we've got to be the talk of the town. With help with the support group, I managed to find the words to tell a few of my close friends and neighbors. Oh, wow, I had underestimated people, what I found amazing was that very few found it surprising at all. It seemed to make sense to them. And of course, it didn't get to tell everybody in person.


And some people had heard it from somebody else. And what was really lovely was that they found really subtle ways of letting me know that they'd heard. They might say, so how's Lukas getting on? And that gave me the opening to talk about it. And they could ask questions. We got cards and texts from people telling us they were thinking of us and how brave we were. I knew at some point I was going to have to go down to the school and make them aware of what was going on, and I was anticipating a bit of a battle.


So I decided I wasn't going to bring Lucas with me just in case there was a scene. So I walk into the principal's office and I am filled with trepidation. I had rehearsed this conversation many times in my head. But as I began to tell them about Lucas, I find he already knows and all he's really concerned is, is, is he getting bullied or not? I'm taken off guard with this, I hadn't expected this, and there's really no way obliged to accommodate Lucas, but yet here they were.


He asked, what bathroom did Lucas use, and I said, actually, he doesn't go to the bathroom at school, he just is not comfortable using either one. And he was horrified. He said, you make sure Lucas knows he can use whatever bathroom he wants. I felt so indebted to him. I couldn't believe somebody could be so accepting of a situation that I myself had found so very difficult to come to terms with. I left his office feeling like it had the wind taken out of my sails, but.


At the same point, I was walking on air, so we make plans to go to Dublin to change his name by deed poll by the stage, I'm getting kind of used to it and I think it kind of suits him. So the night before, my husband and I get really the paperwork to sign off and renounce our daughter's name. I'm finding it really emotional, but trying my best to hide it because Lucas is so excited. I can't sleep, so I start tidying a few cupboards upstairs and I come across a box of old photographs when the kids were small and as I sit on the bed looking through them, my husband and my older son Matt come in.


I think even they shed a tear or two. I take out his communion dress that I made for him and his christening role, and I realized the strangest thing about the name Loukas was probably I didn't choose it. Maybe that's why I hadn't liked his. I found a letter he sent to Santa Claus when he was about nine and he danced for a wrestling ring and wrestlers and a racing car truck, and there wasn't a doll in sight. And I thought, you know, this is so very much the right thing to be doing.


This is who he is and who he's always been. And I realized that the daughter I'm mourning is the daughter I had expected to have. And maybe the pain of that would ease over time. As I put away the photographs and the dresses, I feel like I'm saying a final goodbye to my daughter. And they take out the photograph of Lucas playing guitar in the hotel, and I admire him once again and think about him very proud of him.


I am I really do love my new son. Patrick Cross always imagined she'd eventually be a retired bridal seamstress living in Ireland, but instead she says she's become an entirely different person. She's now working for the Transgender Equality Network in Ireland, advocating for students and providing training for teachers and school staff. She's also pursuing her master's in rights and social policy at Maynooth University.


You can find out more about Catherine and see a picture of her and her sons by visiting our Web site, The Motha.


Coming up, we'll hear a story of love and secret agents when the Moth Radio Hour continues. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by PRICK'S.


This is the Moth Radio Hour from Prick's, I'm Meg Bowles, and our last story comes from Noreen Real's norene has been a respected BBC broadcaster and novelist. But the one thing people never knew about her during her long career was that she had also been a secret agent.


Here's Noreen RELS. Live at the. During World War Two, I was a pupil at the French police in London, but at the ripe old age of 18, I was obliged to abandon my studies and either join the armed forces or work in reminiscence factual.


That often did not thrill me. So I decided to become a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service because I like the hat.


I thought it was most seductive, but when I went to sign on, I was taken aside and closeted in a kind of windowless broom cupboard with a high ranking army officer who began asking me an awful lot of questions, which had nothing to do with the Navy.


He was leaping like a demented kangaroo in and out of four languages.


He seemed very surprised that I could keep up. He sent me to a large building in central London. Oh, I knew it well.


But like the hordes of people who pass by every day never had I imagined or even suspected that this was the headquarters of Churchill's secret army.


And the behind those walls, members of every occupied country were organizing acts of sabotage and the infiltration into enemy territory at night of secret agents by parachute fishing boat, felucca and submarine.


Without realizing what had happened, I had been recruited into the hidden world of secret agents on special missions. But I never got my seductive hat. I was affected to EF four front section. It was an exhausting but exciting, thrilling, exhilarating life full of action and emotion.


We lived some very intense moments.


I got to know an awful lot of agents and I shared many confidences with those who were about to leave. They told me of their concerns for their families.


Many of them were married with young children of their own apprehension of torture and of death.


They knew they only had a 50 percent chance of coming back and they were afraid. Brave men are always afraid courage isn't the absence of fear itself, it's the willingness, the guts, if you like, to face the fear.


They faced their fears. And they left. I remember when he was a Jew, a radio operator, and he was going in on a second mission, well, for a Jew to go in at all was extremely dangerous, but many of them did.


We had quite a few Jewish agents, but a radio operator, a second listen. Radio operator was the most stressful Hadass dangerous mission of all, he he lived on his nerves. He could never relax. He was always on the run, always with the Gestapo. Just a couple of steps behind him. He needed nerves of steel because once infiltrated, his life expectancy was six weeks.


I was with this agent on the night before he left. There was no romantic association. I was just keeping him company.


After all, he was an old man. He was almost 35.


During the evening, he drew out of his pocket. A box full of velvet box and inside was a gold chain with a star of David and a type of piece hanging on it, and he said, I'd like you to have this.


Oh, thank you so much. I said, I'm terribly sorry. I couldn't possibly accept it. You look so sad. So disappointed. He said, please do, oh, please do. Or my family in France has perished in a German concentration camp. I have nobody left in the world and I'd like to think that somebody remembers me, somebody perhaps even thinks of me when I'm over there.


So I took this little box promising to give it back to him when he returned. But he didn't return. Those who did return were taken immediately for a debriefing and often accompanied to debriefing officers, and for me it was a revelation to see that their different reactions, some returned with their nerves absolutely shattered in shreds.


Their hands were shaking uncontrollably as they lit cigaret after cigaret.


And others were schools. Cucumber's. And I realized then that we all have a breaking point. And we can never know until we're faced with a situation. What that breaking point actually is.


I grew up attending those debriefing sessions, many of those agents weren't very much older than I hearing their incredible stories, witnessing their courage, their total dedication, I changed almost overnight from a teenager.


I became a woman. One Saturday evening, it was a snowy evening, it was in early February, I was told that I was to leave the next morning and go down to purely not Bewley was the last of the many secret training schools that these secret training schools were dotted all over England.


And the agents, the future agents attended each one in turn during their long, tough six months training. It took eight to nine months to train a radio operator.


It was in Hampshire, deep in the New Forest. Only six women worked it bitterly during the war.


And I am the last survivor. We were used as decoys, and you won't believe this, but the local people had the remotest idea what was going on under their noses.


We worked in the neighboring seaside town of Bournemouth and Southampton.


My pitch was usually Bournemouth, and it was there that we thought future agents, how to follow someone, find out where they were going, who they were seeing without being detected, how to detect if someone were following them and throw them off.


How to pass messages without any sign of recognition or even moving our lips. Now, this took place on the beach, in the park, on benches, in the town, in a telephone booth and in the tearooms above the government cinema.


The last exercise was reserved for those future agents whom the instructors thought might talk.


Now, the instructors were with them all the time, they watched their every movement, they analyzed it all, and if they thought that they might talk, they would have a carefully prearranged set up meeting between a decoy and a future agent in one of the rather the two grand hotels in Bournemouth.


The meeting would take place in the bar or the lounge, followed by an intimate dinner tete a tete.


It was our job to get them to talk to betray themselves. In fact, the Brits didn't talk much. Foreigners sometimes did, especially young ones. Oh, I understood they were lonely. They were far from their homes and their families.


They didn't even know if they would have a home or even a country to go back to once the war was over.


It was flattering to have a young girl hanging on their every word.


Well, of course, if I had taken part in the earlier exercises, I couldn't take part in that one because they would know me and one of the others took over.


Now, before they were returned to London at the end of their month in Bewley and it was in London in their country section that their fate would be decided.


Each one had an interview with our commandant, kind of willrich.


We called him Woolie Bags behind his back.


He had all the reports from all the different training schools and he made his report and that went back to London.


But his report carried weight.


Now, if they had talked to him, the interview, I all it open and I picked up another decoy, would walk in and wolly bags would say, do you know this woman?


And they realized they had been tricked. Most of them took it well, but I'll never forget one, he was a Dane. A glorious blond Adonis.


When I entered the room, he looked at me with surprise and then almost pained.


And finally, blind fury over Tookey behalf Rose in his chair and he said, you bet, well, no woman likes being called a bitch.


But as Willie Beck said to me, if he can't resist talking to a pretty face over here, he's not going to resist when he's over there and it won't only be his life which is in danger.


It will be many others, I think it was then that I realized that my whole life was a lie. I lied to everybody.


I had to do those agents to my friends, to my family.


My mother thought I work for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. She died at 80 without ever knowing the truth, because all of us at the Secret Army were under the Official Secrets Act for 60 years until those files were opened in the year 2000.


And then most of us were dead anyway on the eve of my 19th birthday. I fell madly, hopelessly in love with an agent. He just he was one of our best agents, a crack. He just returned from a very successful second mission and he was adulated. He was a legend in the section.


I'd heard all about him, but I never thought I'd meet him.


And then suddenly one evening he was there. And it was as if her eyes locked across a crowded room. And we were irresistibly drawn one towards the other. I couldn't believe that he could love me if he was handsome. He was 12 years older than I.


He was a hero.


He must have met many beautiful, sophisticated, elegant, gorgeous women.


He had told me, but he said he'd been looking for me. Our ideal lasted three months. Until he left on his next mission, I was terrified. It was a very dangerous mission and they said only he could carry it off.


But I was so afraid. But he reassured me. He said he was a survivor and he promised me that this would be his last mission. And when he came back, he'd never leave me again. We'd grow old together. The day he left, we had lunch, just the two of us in a little intimate restaurant. We both knew that it would be many months, perhaps, before we'd be together again. And we kept emotion out of our conversations.


I think we both afraid of breaking down.


I know if we hadn't, I would have broken down and I'd have begged him not to go.


I imagine you've all been in love. Can you picture what it's like to be terribly in love and know that all you have is a few at this moment in time? He took me back to the office. We said goodbye at the bus stop, I don't think we even said goodbye as I walked through the door, I turned he was standing on the pavement watching me. He smiled and waved his hand to his red parachutist, Betty. A final salute.


He was infiltrated that night. I never saw him again. The mission was successful, but he didn't return. And I was left. What a little cameo of a perfect love, perfect, perhaps because it had been so brief. When the news that I dreaded came through. They tried to comfort me. They told me I should be proud. He was incredibly courageous, a wonderful man who who had realized that there was a force of evil in the world that had to be annihilated, but that freedom has a price tag.


He paid that price. With his life. But I didn't want a dead hero. I didn't want to medal in a velvet box. I wanted Bill. All those agents in the secret army were volunteers. They didn't have to go, but they went. Almost half of them never returned. Like Bill Gates, they gave they use the sort of eviler their hopes and dreams for the future, they gave their all.


For us. They gave their today. So that we might have a tomorrow. That was Norene, real norene kept her secret until she was 74 years old when the Official Secrets Act was finally lifted. By that time, she was one of the last survivors of the World War two special operations executive or the so-called Churchills secret army. Norene told me that the hardest part about keeping her secret during the war was when people would suggest she was somehow shirking her responsibilities by not contributing anything to the war effort.


Both her parents died without ever knowing how much she actually did do.


Her father died just one year before the Secrets Act was lifted. You can find all the stories you heard in this hour on our Web site, where you can also see pictures and find out more about our storytellers. That's all for this hour, thanks so much for listening and we hope you'll join us again next time for the Moth Radio Hour. Your host this hour was Make Voelz Mark also directed the stories in the show, the rest of the most directorial staff includes Kathryn Burns, Sara Haberman's, Sara Austin Ginés and Jennifer Hickson.


Production support from Muj Lady. More stories are true is remembered and affirmed by the storytellers. Most moth events are recorded by Argo Studios in New York City, supervised by Paul Wust. Our theme music is by the drift of other music in this hour from the definitive collection of British military bands Dicky Nolan and Harry James and his orchestra. You can find links to all the music we use at our website, The Mall Through Two Hours, produced by Jay Allison with Viki Merrick and Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.


This hour was produced with funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation committed to building a more just verdant and peaceful World Moth Radio Hour, as presented by Parks. For more about our podcast, for information on pitching your own story and everything else, go to our Web site, Darmouth Big.