May 2015

Speakers

May 7th. Open Meeting: Margaret Watson: Harpist
June 4th. Colin Jones: Around the world in 80 gardens
July 2nd. Jim Barnes: Vulcan Bomber
Augus 5th. Mary Moore: Mongolia

Club News

The Coulsdon Probus ClubOur Chairman Andrew Banfield had the pleasure of inaugurating our latest member, John Morgan, a retired electrician whose hobbies are woodcarving and being a Hillbillies volunteer for Farthing Downs and New Hill.

Our committee is now complete, but Gerry Thompson has only accepted the vice chairmanship pending a new volunteer – please consider. 34 out of 44 members were present in April including our own speaker Ian Payne. The Chairman’s Charity collection made £35.53 and the raffle raised £34.

Welcome back to Malcolm Guest. Reg Baker has had a bad fall this last weekend and has broken a hip bone. He had his operation on Monday and is recuperating in Mayday – we wish him a speedy recovery. Following his transplant, Eric Jenkinson is getting stronger each day. Please advise news of members to almoner, hughroberts67@aol.com, tel: 01737 202243. Attendance: please notify Andrew Kellard, tel: 01737 554055.

Outings and Events

Gypsy, Savoy Theatre: Wednesday 27th May 2015 – fully subscribed.
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 diarise.
For all the above, please contact jim@mulvey.uk.net, tel: 01737 555974.
Please complete Jim’s questionnaire concerning outing preferences. We do need to maximise numbers for our activities to make them viable.

Annual Quiz: 19th November – please diarise. Contact: Dennis Evans.

Decimalisation – Ian Payne

The Coulsdon Probus ClubThis talk had been postponed in February, but with a cancellation having been received Ian was able to step in at short notice. Collecting coins has been Ian’s passion since the age of 10 and he was active during the decimalisation era, collecting leaflets, posters, coins, of course, and even the enabling legislation documents.

Ian started by explaining how in his actuarial career he had used decimal calculating machines to calculate surrender values and the like and how converting £sd to decimal and back could be done as mental arithmetic. We then looked at the old penny from 1860 until its demise in 1970 and wondered at the history in the Latin inscriptions still used to this day. Elizabeth II, Dei Gratia, Regina, Fidei Defensor (By the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith). ‘Ind Imp’ (Emperor of India) had been omitted in 1949 following India’s independence and Britt Omn in 1954.

We then looked at the history of coinage all through the eyes of Ian’s collection. The Roman follis he found in the back of an old piano, a ‘hammered’ Elizabeth I sixpence, the huge 1797 copper ‘cartwheel’ twopence’ (which Ian passed round – part of the extensive display we had looked at over lunch) and Maundy money of particular significance as this was Maundy Thursday.

The introduction of the florin in 1872 inscribed ‘one tenth of a pound’ was an early attempt at decimalisation but, despite all of Europe decimalising in the 19th century, we stubbornly held out. The Committee of Inquiry on Decimal Currency reported in 1963. Choices: 8/4 cent (100 old pennies), 10/- cent (as per Australia and South Africa), £1 0s 10d mil (1000 farthings). Of course we chose the £1 cent system. We decimalised on 15th February 1971. The old sixpence became 21⁄2p but was withdrawn soon afterwards.

Ian showed us all the posters and leaflets issued prior to decimalisation including large cardboard cut-outs of the old coins showing withdrawal dates which he had purloined from bank counters. We looked at displays of decimal coins then we remembered with nostalgia the old vocabulary we have lost and finally we looked at some rare decimal coins currently in circulation.

Chairman Andrew Banfield thanked Ian for his fascinating presentation and urged other members to follow his example.

Editorial – Ian Payne

Our new recruitment leaflet is on your table.

We welcome wives and guests to our annual open meeting. This is your chance to see what your other halves get up to each month. If you read our Newsletters, you will know that after lunch we invite a guest to entertain us. Today, for your delight, we have a harpist to enchant you. We look forward to seeing you again at our forthcoming outings and, of course, at the formal Ladies Lunch in October.

At our April meeting, having all been sent the full background and financial details, we debated the following motion: ‘The Coulsdon Probus Club having fully considered the location and financial aspects agree to re-locate our monthly meeting and lunch from the Purley Sports Club to the Coulsdon Manor Hotel. The motion was defeated by 31 votes to 11 including proxy votes.

Today is general election day – have you voted yet? Coulsdon Debating Society’s prescient motion in April was ‘Voting Conservative means you haven’t got a heart, voting Labour means you haven’t got a head’ – it was easily carried. Many pressure groups nowadays believe that protest is more effective than the ballot box – how about a Probus protest march to the town hall? – we can decide the reason when we get there.

Do you feel lucky? – Vincent Fosdyke

The Coulsdon Probus Club“Don’t worry you won’t have those sort of problems.”

I suppose I did have my doubts when this reply was given towards the end of our training. Perhaps I was just getting to know enough about the world to know that professionals don’t always justify the faith we have in them. But it would have been nice to believe it and there was no going back now, we were nearly qualified.

And so to work!

Just a month into my probationary year, a sunny day in early October, in the east end of London, just after lunch. Old hands had tipped me off, “the real problems are when it is all quiet”. It was ten to two and the old style wooden porta-cabin which I was walking past was very quiet. This would be fine as there should be no-one in it and I could walk past, relaxed, enjoying the sunshine. For a moment the glare of the sun softened and the cabin windows revealed a great number of very quiet, very still people, behind the glass. Somehow because they were a foot or two above ground level they looked much bigger than me, although as they were mainly about seventeen or eighteen years old they might be bigger!

Well we had already had bomb scares so often that it was up to us to decide if we cleared the buildings or ignored the call, but I could feel tension rising to ruin my afternoon. From two a.m. the hut was to be mine so I suppose enquiries had to be made. No one was looking out; no one would notice me enter. As I slid into the press of people, a mixture of males and females, it was obvious that somewhere in the middle of the cabin a very serious event was taking place. About two rows back from the epicentre I caught sight of a very determined and angry face of a young man seated at a table covered with cards and money which had already been disarranged. Another seated figure had his back to me. Both were holding the kind of knives which often appear in sealed plastic evidence bags in court. These were lock knives with curves cut out of the top part of the blade edge so that a point was produced, an ideal street weapon.

It seemed to me that a strike was a half second away; everyone seemed to be holding their breath. I think that deficient though our training had been we had all realised the value of drama in situation management and two words from my sociology degree jumped into my mind, cognitive dissonance. The idea is to break the thought pattern of the thinker in such a way that puzzlement thwarts the immediate chain of thought, hopefully until the adrenaline levels fall a little. I could sure have done with that myself at that instant.

Working from my own mental image of a Nelsonian Naval officer I snatched a deep breath and a quotation from Shakespeare, “Put up your bright swords gentlemen or the dew will rust them”.

By now I was watching the facing gambler and noticed a hesitancy and an element of confusion cross the hostile features while he de-coded the English. In that moment I added “this room is mine now”.

I was so glad to see the knives folded and the group move (still silently to the door).

Now I had to carry on with the two p.m. session hopefully with decreasing blood pressure and a more normal pulse rate. The evening could be spent re- living those moments by writing up an incident report.

Oh well only another ten weeks to the Christmas breakdown. Please don’t begrudge further education teachers the “long holidays”.

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