Editorial – Ian Payne
Having considerably cut down the length of my editorial, I’ve now have room for new ideas to enhance our newsletter. In addition to your back page stories, I am interested in receiving smaller pieces on say, a) Hobbies (in general or a specific incidence), b) Letters to The Editor on say Coulsdon Probus, the Newsletter or local news, c) Exchange and Mart – have you got something to sell or something you need?
Today: Nick Hill: Bletchley Park
December 4th: Christmas with the Reverend Malcolm Newman
Christmas lunch will be the traditional fare at £21.00
January 8th: Jim Barnes: Water supply in the 21st Century
February 5th: Ian Payne: Decimalisation
Membership is now 44 of whom 21 are over 80. Recruitment is an issue. In October there were 35 members plus our speaker and a guest from Purley Probus. £38.12 was collected for the Chairman’s Charity and £35 for the Amenity Fund (raffle). Letter received from Royal Hospital Chelsea thanking us for our donation of £100.00.
It is with deep regret that we report the deaths of Laurie Painting on 10th October and of Alan Horwell towards the end of October. A short obituary for Laurie is on the back page. Alan’s funeral is on 14th November at 11:30 at St. John’s Church, Old Coulsdon.
Please advise news of members to almoner, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 01737 202243. Attendance: please notify Andrew Kellard, tel: 01737 554055.
Outings and Events
Coulsdon Probus Quiz, Thursday 20th November evening 7 pm, Old Coulsdon Centre (for the Retired): £3 per person – prizes – just turn up – wives, partners, friends welcome – bring your own drinks.
Amsterdam and Bulbfields Cruise: unfortunately this has had to be cancelled due to small numbers.
Guest Speaker: Christine Jarvis: The Rag Tag and Bobtail Years
Christine, who is a Civil Servant, has a hobby of documenting changes in lifestyle during her lifetime. Born in the early 1950s, her light-hearted talk enhanced by photographs and memorabilia centred on the 1950s. Do you remember Rag Tag and Bobtail – part of Watch with Mother on BBC TV from 1953 to 1965?
Christine used her reminiscences to take us down memory lane with lots of pictures to refresh our memories. Perhaps the talk was just a list of memories but they were our memories as well and each picture had us saying ‘oh yes, I remember that’.
We started with black Bakelite phones, crisps with salt bags, Coronation 1953, Hillary and Tensing on Everest 1953, Suez 1956, Bannister’s four minute mile 1954, spies Burgess and Maclean’s escape to Russia 1951, Watson and Crick structure of DNA 1953, first James Bond book 1953, The Mousetrap 1952, Festival of Britain 1951 (Royal Festival Hall, Skylon & Dome of Discovery not unlike the Millennium Dome).
We covered the home from décor to table manners and leisure pursuits and everything inside – open fires, DIY, radio, pop stars, Sunday lunch, Family Favourites, Hancocks ½ hour and TV including Panorama’s 1957 April fools ‘spaghetti harvest’. Programmes included Muffin the Mule and Blue Peter for children and Hughie Green and Michael Miles.
Shops had assistants behind the counter and we looked at washing powders, sweets, Maxwell House coffee and tobacco products. 30% of household expenditure went on food. We played out in the open and read the Beano, Dandy or Eagle (Dan Dare and the Mekon), made models, collected stamps and watched Davy Crocket at the cinema. Popular cars included the Morris Minor with weekend trips to the country. Bonfire night and birthday parties were remembered and occasional eating out at Wimpey or Lions Corner House.
We looked at school including milk (1/3 pint), three ‘R’s, school dinners, sports day, art lessons, harvest festival, playground games and Christmas play. School holidays at Weston-Super-Mare with deckchairs and tin buckets and spades. The 1950s had simple pleasures, the milk came by horse and cart. Today we have too many gadgets, we’re too busy and the garage is full of storage. “Perhaps this reminiscence has been through rose-coloured spectacles, but it was a lovely time to grow up.”
Editor: This account is very much a précis. I wrote down some 230 things/people/facts. Please contact me if you’d like the full report. We invited Christine to return next year with the 1960s.
East Meets West by Vincent Fosdike
Once upon a time I was young. The world was still new and so was my wife’s first pregnancy, and my first teaching job in the East End.
You might think this would provide enough learning situations to be going on with especially if you have taught sixteen to eighteen year olds from inner city cultures. This was my very first job from training college where we were firmly misled into thinking that they were all there because they wanted to be and would appreciate our efforts and want to be friends. Well moving on from the “official version”, it might be fair to say that at the end of each day you would be very tired.
My motorcycle journey there took me from Wandsworth to Stoke Newington and so Soho was easily reached with its large range of Chinese emporiums. This was an area in which round earthenware pots about the size of a prize winning pumpkin could be bought. These things have a skeletal wire framework to strengthen them and what to western eyes was a small spout near the upper rim. I had been asked to buy one for my wife who needed it to create a herbal brew used by oriental ladies after birth. Only these earthenware pots will do as they have special properties in relation to the herbs, hundred year old eggs, ginger roots and soya sauce which in combination produce a drink, rich in iron, vitamins and is very warming to the palate. For preparation purposes the pot has to be filled with water to the brim and stood for twenty four hours to “seal it” or it will leak when in use.
Fortunately the shop opens early and I stopped on my way to work, purchased a pot and fixed it on the luggage carrier of my bike and so on to the chalk face! The pot had to be kept in the little “staff section” at the end of our porter cabin but could be clearly seen as I carried it in and it aroused curiosity in my students. The only one who might have known its origin was a Chinese girl (an expert in martial arts) was also reserved by nature and did not enlighten her colleagues but kept her thoughts to herself. That night it “rode pillion” with me and was put in the bath and filled. Early next morning I was dispatched with the pot back to the shop as dampness was found on the outside surface. The staff were unimpressed and said “they all do that”, and were not communicative as to solving the problem. It would be fine when the brew was put in. They did give me a replacement and the students eventually asked me why I brought a pot in each day and took it home each night because no less than four times did this routine occur. My wife would not give up and the baby was due soon.
Day five: high noon! In went the pot and I placed it on the counter. They were waiting for me (two men, definitely Triad members, stopped work and came to stand behind me). The whole family, three generations at least, came down from upstairs and stood silently waiting for the performance to start. This time I asked them straight away to line up four or five pots and fill them all with water. Again in silence, they did this. By now a number of customers were watching, wide eyed as the” Gwailo” stood his ground. The clock ticked and one by one damp patches showed. Forty minutes later in a now packed shop there was one dry pot which I really wanted!
They refused to give it to me and tension rose, I could not go to work without it let alone home empty handed, I had a reputation to keep. I pressed my case and finally a compromise was reached. They would sell it to me providing I never came back (they said the pot was faulty)!!!! The crowd all Chinese drifted away with puzzled looks and my final visit drew to a close.
Well the kids who by now knew a bit about what was going on had taken to asking me how many children we were having. I told them that depended on how many pots I could get and to get on with their work.
We still have the pot and it was good!! But Chinese friends still say it was defective and we should not have accepted it. I really was a little disappointed when I failed the final stage of selection for the Diplomatic Service feeling I would have been a natural as a junior secretary in Hong Kong. Compromise is everything. One mystery which neither oriental nor occidental can solve is the purpose of the spout through which no liquid can pass as it does not connect with the inside of the pot.
Laurie Painting 1930–2014. Laurie’s great love was amateur operatics performing in some 66 productions over 40 years including Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady. He juggled all this with the demands of work and family life. In his other career, Laurie rose to Treasury Official and after 1996, part time in the Ministry of Defence redacting the juicy bits for the public. His work required a good bit of jet setting.
Laurie married Gladys in 1953 and with their children Stuart, Nigel, Kevin and Wendy, had many memorable holidays. In the late 1970s Laurie and Gladys purchased a trailer tent and dived into camping. Gladys died of a stroke in 1995. Laurie later married Pat who was a prompt for the Sidcup Operatic Society.
Laurie continued to perform into his 70s with roles such as Sir Joseph Porter (G&S) and Bud Flanagan (Underneath the Arches). The memory of this talented, energetic and humorous man will live on in the hearts of his family and his many friends at Probus and elsewhere.