Sometimes – not very often – these Newsletters are planned, or even plan themselves. The hardest part is what to write on this front page which over the years has turned into a spot where I can air my views on the changing world, usually to its discredit. This time there is no one subject that springs to mind, but several are worthy of comment, or at least I think so.
Yes, I read the Daily Telegraph, but that doesn’t make me an old fogey, I read it because it reflects my time-honoured opinions, one of which is the degradation being applied to this country by Government. Not just the current mob, though they especially do seem to be going out of their way to put us into the Third World category. The only things that still work here are those hallowed by age, rapidly being dismantled. Not just by our elected leaders, and that is what infuriates me most of all.
What right have Civil Servants to instruct – not advise – Ministers? Those involved are not even professionals, but have been appointed with the firm intention of changing our constitution in ways we simply do not want, but which, when incorporated will change our lives and those of our successors for ever.
It’s not just what they are doing, it’s the way it is being done, secretly, by ‘burying’ the awkward facts behind stories attractive to lesser media outlets. One of the more outstanding changes is the apparently-waking thought by the Prime Minister to do away with the Lord Chancellor’s Of fire, making it a part of the Home Of fire. It has only lasted a thousand years, but that doesn’t make it right. It arose out of a reshuffle, which sounds like what it is, an arbitrary modification to the pecking order of the PM’s political friends, but it must be made to seem sensible, so get the spin doctors working to earn their fat salaries for a day or two.
When the matter does make the front pages it has been ‘spun’ out of recognition. This is the nub of my complaint.
Just one example, not the several referred to above which included the row over the truth about why we invaded Iraq. Do you know the etymology of the name ‘Campbell’? From Gaelic Cam crooked, bent + beul mouth.
Lt. Col. Colin Fairclough spent more than 40 years as an officer in the Salvation Army, half of it with the Army’s family tracing service, during which time more than 70,000 people were successfully found and reunited with their families. Usually this job is moved around every seven years, but with his success from the beginning he was asked to continue until he retired.
“The Sally Ann”: we all know where to find them locally, but if you want to contact this particular branch, what is the address? Colin quoted a number of attempts, from “Missing Persons, London” to other more explanatory addresses which must have tried to patience of the Post Office, but they got there all the same.
The SA’s mission is primarily to preach the Gospel, but its subsidiary job is to meet human needs in God’s name. It was founded in 1880 following the mass redistribution of the population with the coming of railways, breaking up families. William Booth, the founder was plagued with anxious parents seeking lost sons and daughters, so in 1885 Mrs. Booth’s Enquiry Bureau was set up in London. Now it is international, with offices in 108 countries.
3000 people a year are found, but that means about 25,000 people made happier. Of some 93,000 enquiries Colin dealt with, some 75,000 were successful though in many cases one party would prefer to stay out of touch. For all that, though, Colin got great satisfaction on succeeding, especially if reconciliation resulted. At an average cost of £35 per enquiry the resulting happiness was cheap at the price.
A splendidly audible speaker on a splendidly satisfying subject.
Traidcraft and why it is necessary. Revd. George Young will tell us how and why we should help the Third World.
Kate Holdsworthy, a local Vet., tells us of her life looking after the health of our pets.
Norma Sweeting has a cunning plan to seek out our innermost characteristics, using Graphology to find the personality hidden in our handwriting, as if we didn’t already know but keep quiet about it. However, if you want the satisfaction of learning you were right all along, bring a plain sheet of A5 paper (same size of this page) and a pen with you and offer your handwriting for examination. She won’t be broadcasting her findings other than anonymously; cries of self-recognition will be ignored, as will knowing nudges by fellow diners. Seriously, though, it is a fascinating subject to be given by someone with extensive knowledge of Graphology. Norma holds a Master’s Diploma and is a qualified teacher in the subject, so this will be another twist in the learning curve of Life.
Stan Rogers led another successful outing a few days ago, ignoring all chance of English summer weather when the Walton-on-the-Heath area rang to the joys of ramWing through the Surrey countryside. It also, I am told rang to the sound of Stan serenading our Chairman, but that was later, after a pub lunch. Mne walked and fifteen sat down to eat in the Blue Anchor.
In a couple of weeks’ time the Industrial Museum at Amberley will benefit from our presence. It’s a huge area, covering 36 acres of old chalk pits. Thirty buildings house hundreds of exhibits, connected (to save our old legs) by a narrow gauge railway. Name an industrial activity associated with England and you will find it there on July 16th. The sort of place you will want to go back to in case there was something wonderful you missed first time roumd. Stan will be spreading the word about getting there*, as well as to Denbies’ Wine Estate on August 21st. and the boat trip on the Waverley on September 28th.
* I have a horrible feeling that Network Rail will be digging up the track south of Coulsdon, so keep an eye on the local paper or, if you are really lucky you might find knowing staff on duty at Coulsdon South.
Having reserved for themselves the Bronze Medal position to the point of tradition over the past few years, our golfing members plus Purley players managed Silver a couple of weeks ago against other Probean teams. The sharing that goes on these days makes it hard to define just who represents who(m?), but if the weather keeps fine and the limbs keep supple, who cares? Just so long as a good walk is spoilt by hitting a small ball and lunch follows. Bill Brinkley is responsible for this sporting resurgence.
Writing of golf and so thinking of Coulsdon Court, I am pleased to report that the Bourne Society has taken up my suggestion amd will shortly be unveiling a blue plaque on Coulsdon Manor Hotel, marking its history as the Manor Court of the Squires Byron from its completion in 1850 to 1921 when the last squire died. His death freed his 600 acre park to be turned into the present golf course which has turned out to be suitable for the Aged Bones of our members.
Mike Talamo lent me his copy of They Led The Way – The story of Pathf nder Squadron 156, in which there are several references to W/Cdr. Hall, OBE, DFC, our ex-member now living in Alton, too far away for his old bones to make it worth while to attend. I mentioned Sam Hall to Bob Gill – our newest member – and it turns out that he, too was involved in Pathfinding. Are there any others?
Jim Mulvey and I see Harry Stockbridge regularly, still enjoying life at 96 and living at The Shaw in Coulsdon. Harry has taken to waLking across to the shops for his tobacco by himself, a feat he was not capable of a few months ago, though he still relies on others to buy his sherry and whisky for him from Waitrose.
This Newsletter is turning into an expression of the Editor’s opinion, especially on the front page. If you disagree with him, write to say so. A ‘Letters to the Editor’ column would be a good addition.
Harry Cundell’s Coincidence
We were in Guemsey on holiday with my old Irish friend Joe and his wife Tess. Having spent a very tiring day, as one does in Guernsey, imbibing, sitting about and reminiscing we went in to a very nice dinner and discussed how we would spend the evening. It was decided that we should have a hand at cards and the hotel manager very kindly said we could borrow one of the bridge tables. I went to the room where they were kept and saw quite a number to choose from.
Rather than take the one at the front of the pile where they were dusty, I chose one half way towards the back. It was somewhat dark in the room but the table looked OK on the face of it and I carried it back to the others in the lounge.
Joe said “Why pick this table? It’s got some tears in the baize.” I was nonplussed and almost scared when I saw what he was pointing at as my mind scorched back over half a century to my childhood.
Like so many boys at that time, I used to make model airplanes with balsa wood which, as we know, we cut with razor blades. I shall never forget my horror when as a usually careful young boy I discovered that on one particular occasion I had missed the cutting board I was using and had sliced through my kind Aunt’s card table top three times. She was very forgiving of this horror of horrors when I told her, but I never forgot my stupidity.
Here we were in Guernsey, channels away from home. The pattern of scars was indelible. There were three parallel splits in the baize about a quarter of an inch apart two or three inches long. When I looked closer at the underside of the table my mind was made up: this was without question the same table.
When my Aunt passed away we had sold quite a lot of her furniture to a local dealer in Croydon who had obviously sold this table on. How many hands it had passed through over the missing years? I have never been able to find out.
Another bit of family lore from Ken Carter, a birthday card to him from his son and, most importantly including his 2-year-old granddaughter’s first attempt at signing her name for Grandpa. I shall assuredly return this historic document, sent to the Newsletter for the story it contains:
A man was caught in a flood and two men came by in a boat to rescue him, but he sent them away shouting “No, the Lord will save me. ” An hour later another boat came along but the man said “No, the Lord will save me. ” Eventually a helicopter arrived but the man insisted “The Lord will save me. ” But he drowned and at the gates of heaven he asked St. Peter “Why didn’t the Lord save me?” And St. Peter replied “For crying out loud, two boats and a helicopter?; what more do you want?”
Produced and edited monthly by Ian Scales (01737 553704)
for The Coulsdon Probus Club.
Edition No 79.