June 2015


Today: Colin Jones: Around the world in 80 gardens
July 2nd: Jim Barnes: Vulcan Bomber
August 5th: Mary Moore: Mongolia
September 3rd: Barbara Stevens: Her choice of subject

Club News

Thank you to Andrew for organising the lunch at our May open meeting – all had a lovely time. There were 56 members and guests present including our harpist. In a departure from the normal table charity collection, the Chairman provided a charity box for his Blesma collection. The raffle made £54 for the amenity fund – with thanks to those who donated prizes. A letter was received from Macmillan Cancer Support thanking us for our donation so that no one has to suffer cancer alone.

Doug Elliott was absent due to arthritis though he made it to ‘Gypsy’ last week. Reg Baker is still recovering from his broken hip and Eric Jenkinson from his transplant. Both are doing well and we hope to see them back soon. Please advise news of members to almoner, hughroberts67@aol.com, tel: 01737 202243. Attendance: please notify Andrew Kellard, tel: 01737 554055.

Outings and Events

Old Coulsdon Fair: Saturday 4th July – please support our Probus stall.
Kennet and Avon Canal Cruise with buffet lunch – Thursday 9th July.
Maidstone: Thursday 10th September – Hotel lunch, Old Time Music Hall.
Ladies Lunch: 15th October at Coulsdon Manor – please complete the reservation form with your choice of lunch as soon as possible.
For all the above, please contact jim@mulvey.uk.net, tel: 01737 555974.

Last Night of the Proms: Fairfield 26th September (own transport). Contact Hugh Roberts tel: 01737 202243, email: hughroberts67@aol.com
Annual Quiz: 19th November – please diarise. Contact: Dennis Evans.

Open Meeting, May 2015 – Harpist: Margaret Watson

The Coulsdon Probus ClubThis year we went upmarket to entertain our ladies and guests. Margaret not only entertained us superbly on the Harp but told us how she fell in love with the instrument and how it works. We started with the most popular harp piece – ‘Greensleeves’ (by Henry VIII ?) – then our first lesson: the red strings are note ‘C’ and the black are note ‘F’. After ‘Plaisir d’Amour’ our Chairman, to test the harp’s versatility requested ‘Elvis Presley’ and we were treated to ‘Can’t help falling in love’.

Margaret knew the questions we wanted to ask: how much do they cost – £30K; Irish or Welsh – Margaret has Irish blood but well in the past; how do you transport it – on a three-wheeled trolley in an orange van. Margaret wanted a harp at a very early age but had to do with an egg slicer until she was fourteen.

Percy Granger’s ‘In an English County Garden’ – Margaret’s harp weights 91 lb (41 kg) but doesn’t feel heavy whey held on the knee. Excerpts from ‘Magic Flute’ even though Mozart didn’t like the harp. Forty-seven strings to tune using individual pegs. ‘Music of the Night’ – the harp can play orchestral or solo with choir, flute or song and Margaret sang to ‘Old Father Thames’ (not quite X-Factor material).

The Coulsdon Probus ClubThe harp has seven pedals each with a top, middle, bottom position. The ‘C’ pedal, for example’ via a mechanism through the pillar and across the top tightens each of the ‘C’ strings to give ‘C♭’ (top), ‘C♮’ (middle) and ‘C♯’ (bottom). Glenn Miller medley ending with ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’. Encore: ‘Can’t help myself’ and ‘Irish Jig’ – what an enjoyable afternoon.

The Coulsdon Probus Club The Coulsdon Probus Club The Coulsdon Probus Club The Coulsdon Probus Club The Coulsdon Probus Club

Editorial – Ian Payne

Traffic, traffic everywhere. Chipstead residents lost their judicial review on both the Cane Hill housing and the Lion Green supermarket, so these developments are now likely to proceed. Add to this the new housing in Caterham-on-the Hill and the new Waitrose distribution centre in Ullswater Crescent and we’re set for an almighty traffic problem at the Marlpit Lane roundabout. In the meantime, the new Aldi has been causing traffic problems in the centre of town.

But those of us on the outing to see Gypsy at the Savoy a week ago saw what London traffic can really be like – it was the opening of parliament that day and it took almost two hours to get there and about two hours to get back. The show, however, was terrific with Imelda Staunton giving such a powerful performance one wondered that her voice would be intact for the evening show.

Talking about performances – don’t miss Bradley Walsh in ‘The Lights’. You all know the house in Tollers Lane with the fantastic Christmas Lights display – we take all our visitors to see it. Well a small film company wanted to make a short promotional film about a widower who kept his Christmas lights on all year round since the loss of his family. The outside of the house was Tollers Lane but they needed a suitable inside and were leafletting for volunteers.

Pauline was planting in the front garden – “Do you have a large kitchen where we could make a film?” – “Come in a see.” So we got shortlisted and after visits by armies of people and against fierce competition from the neighbours, we got chosen. Fortunately, we had several external things to do over the two days of filming but we needed somewhere to hang out in-between – our next door neighbour was going on holiday and came to the rescue.

The house was decorated, the garage filled with old Christmas trees and generally what seemed like a huge film crew took over. They used the hall, the kitchen and the garage and our front room became their equipment depository. We were invited in to see our wrecked house with coffee stains all over the cupboards. Our actor appeared in rags – “You must be the poor old chap?” said Pauline, having read the script (we’d never heard of BW). “No”, he said, “I’m the location manager!” Everything was restored perfectly.

As Time Passes By: Reg Baker Part 4 (part i) – Regular Callers

In an earlier part of this series (see February 2015 and previous issues), cold callers and some seasonal visitors were contemplated, together with various levels of acceptance and welcome afforded by members of households and others. The writer would now extend that appreciation to some other visitors who called on a regular, periodic, or daily basis.

A number of quarterly visitors, as today, would have been meter readers to record consumption of gas and electricity for the household or business concerned. Readers were most often employed by producers and distributors of gas and electricity supplies – to read the meter involved: inform the occupier of consumption and forward that information for billing purposes. In the 1920’s and for some time onward, responsibility for the provision and distribution of energy would most likely have been that of the local authority for the area. This was especially true for gas supplies. Whilst carrying out some internal maintenance work on his current house the writer unearthed a record card headed Croydon Gas Company, with a full listing of consumption figures. The significant point here is that the first entry on the card was dated 26 April 1924; with initial meter reading of 0000. Combined with other information, that date was most likely the date of installation of the gas meter, and if this be true, it would date the completion of house construction to be pre 26 April 1924. Cards containing records of consumption were left with the consumer at time of reading with sufficient other information to enable readings to be checked and for the cost of gas used to be calculated. One other characteristic of the card is that all entries were made using lead pencil. Hungarian László József Bíró had not, at that time, made his mark! His invention of the ball point pen was not available until 1944.

One other fairly regular caller was that of the coalman, delivering 1 cwt (112 lb; 51 kg) sacks of coal to order. Although gas and electric supplies had been available in domestic dwellings for some time, coal was often the favoured fuel for space heating in the form of open fires. The coalman would have operated from a merchant’s office sited close to a railway siding holding stockpiles of coal, and having filled and loaded sacks of coal upon a flatbed truck would then drive to customers’ homes, schools or businesses. The task of the driver/coalman was then to drag sacks of coal onto his back, and almost bent double would walk his load to the designated coalhole or coalhouse. If the property did not have side access to the rear, or the use of a ‘stoop’, the coalman would need to trudge through the dwelling, much to the consternation of the housewife, treading along a path marked out by laid down newspapers, very much in the manner depicted by Mrs Pegden.

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