February 2004

NOISY NIGHTS

shapeimage_1-1Elsewhere in this Newsletter I have discussed the coming changes for Coulsdon, (though I note that no comment was made about the terrible spin-off on Purley traffic), but the total effect should be to reduce noise levels, both day and night. Stress was written into the comments about our continuing to need a Green Belt, but that can bring its own noises in its turn. Do you remember Crex crex? You may not know it, because it was more commonly known as the Corncrake, a bird whose nocturnal screech caused many a sleepless night and, in my case, much swearing.

Fifty years ago I was learning to come to terms with the jungle noises of West Africa. Living as I was right on the edge of continuous bush for a hundred miles in any direction, the wild life made itself known in no uncertain terms as soon as the sun set, just before 7 p.m. We couldn’t shut the windows to keep out the noise, because each of them was built like a venetian blind with no glass, so that the cooling breezes could circulate indoors. We just had to learn to live with it

The six-month long rainy season was the worst, its only redeeming feature being that the temperature dropped a few degrees The frogs loved it. They loved it at the top of their voices, calling for mates against the opposition of their fellows on the basis that the louder they shouted, the better their chances. Thousands of them would congregate in the swampy grass a few yards outside the house, calling until the first glow of dawn in the East sent them away. Don’t know where, didn’t care.

The Cicadas loved it too. These, a sort of grasshopper with a higher education, had spent several years pupating under ground and came to the top for just one night, during which they had to attract a mate, copulate and die. Some life, but noisy with it.

The UK version of the above was the Corncrake. I had looked forward to silent nights on leave at home, but hadn’t counted on the field next door and its Crex Crex. One night, 2 a.m or thereabouts, armed with a bamboo from the greenhouse, I crept out in pajamas to swipe the swine into flight or death. I missed, dammit. Now they’re gone to Scotland, I read. Best place for them.

Speakers

shapeimage_2We’re a nosy lot; not just we Probeans, we want to find out about our neighbours, the more the better we like it. Proved all round by the rapt attention we paid to Roger Brunton in January, when he told us about his family roots, under the title of “With handcart to the land of the honeybee.” He has done this sort of thing to us before, giving a misleading title to his talks, but we knew it would be all a matter of genealogy sourced from family records and museums. Roger took us back to the end of the 18th century when, in 1799 when a great (-great?) grandfather, one John Wellings set up a blacksmith’s business in a village in the North West of England. He and his wife had a son who worked as a sawyer, then an agricultural labourer, with enough income to support a wife, five sons and two daughters, most of whom we Baptised late in life by usual standards, the mother being a Baptist. The eldest boy went to Portsmouth to make naval uniforms, where he ‘turned’ (as my mother would have said) to the Mormon Church newly imported from Salt Lake City and set up in England. Bad move, as it turned out, since Samuel served time in gaol. Was it for not being a member of the Established Church? It was enough, anyway, to cause him to move to a settlement near Salt Lake City – the “Land of the Honeybee” that resulted in a late Revelation by the Church to expand their community. He married (eventually four wives) and worked his own farm, losing an arm in a threshing machine. He then travelled the world, especially Australia on behalf of the Church, visiting his old English family on the way, and retuned to the USA, this time 1200 miles across unfriendly territory to Wyoming with a young family. One daughter died on the trail and was buried where she she fell.

Everywhere, they walked. At one time he was a Major in the Mormon army (against the Redskins, one supposes) before finally settling in Melbourne and dying there aged 53, leaving 20 living relatives who, over the past 150 year have become 1400 descendants.

Where does all this information (and much more besides) come from? Humble letters, the sort of thing we all throw out after a while, leaving our descendants to wonder where the heck we came from. Don’t do it, folks; record it. Fascinating

Today:

Again our own member, Tony Simpson, in the matter of “Shipbuilding, past and present”

March 4th:

The AGM already. Want to volunteer for a job for the Club’ Our continued success depends on willing members for the jobs that need doing Tell George Davis, if you wish to help.

April 1st:

Audrey Butler with her guide dog, to thank us for supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind and to receive our cheque.

May 6th:

Local historian Vivien Lovett with great stories about Croydon’s colourful corners and characters.

Club News

Mostly, I suspect, “Coulsdon News” rather than Club, but beginning with some of the latter, Stan Rogers has resigned from Probus, having given excellent service over the past few years as our Outings Secretary and Organiser We’re sorry to lose him, the only positive thing about his departure is that, with the AGM coming up next month, his timing is good and we shall be able to appoint someone in his place.

Looking back over a few years, our Club has thinned down somewhat. Not in numbers, which keep steady – or slightly increased at around sixty, but in the facilities we offer on a club basis. We used to have a Bowls section and that went the way of all flesh; our Golf team diminished to the point of extinction just recently, and now Outings are under threat unless we get a volunteer to replace Stan.

For those of you who take your Newsletter home for the wife to read, my wife Valerie” is presently in Mayday, waiting to undergo surgery, so this edition is being written under stress by yours truly.

I mentioned above the existence of ‘Coulsdon news’, based on a big chunk of mail dropped through the letterbox this morning, concerning Croydon Council’s plans for, the Smitham Bottom/Brighton Road part of our town once the Relief Road has been completed. The booklet is beautifully designed and produced and needs a lot more study than I have time for if this edition is to be ready on time. It covers our topography, history, heritage and culture, as well as the intended use of the land.

Probably most importantly, if they mean it, is the section on ‘Community Consultation’. This part of Coulsdon has been included in Mayor Livingstone’s 100 spaces for London. Certainly, after sixty years waiting for something to start which will relieve us of the continuous flow of traffic, the need for renovation of the town centre has had time to be thought about. We all have our own ideas of what should be done to improve facilities and services there and now we are being offered the chance to put our oar in. Like the new road itself (barely started as I write), town improvements will not happen overnight. When they do, they must be what we, or – more practically – the next generation need and not what Government thinks will be good for us. We’ve had enough of that in the past

We don’t need vast swathes of housing covering our precious green belt. That happened in the last century (I’m living where cattle ate the grass to produce the milk sold from Bradmore Farm) and it must have been a shock to everyone when that happened, following on from the building of Cane Hill which had changed the whole status of the sleepy village forty years previously.

We do need roads free of through traffic, to enable us to visit better local shops of a wider variety than at present. It would be nice if we could have a proper community centre where it used to be, in the old Red Lion, with space around it forming a village square and a decent pub and public rooms for hire for such as our annual Ladies Lunch. I could go on, but it is up to all of us to ensure that whatever comes out at the end is for Coulsdon, not Croydon or London. See to it, brethren.

The Joy of being a Junior Articled Audit Clerk
by Andrew Kellard

In September 1947, with matriculation certificate in my pocket, I walked through the doors of one of the big firms of Chartered Accountants in the City. The training partner explained that what they required from their articled audit clerks was study, study and more study and then perhaps, after five years, to achieve that magic CA after your name. Oh, we do require the small sum of 500 guineas as a deposit, which is refundable after the five years. We will pay you a weekly wage of £1 10s for the first year, rising to £8 per week in the final year. So I was articled to a partner, then handed over to his audit managers. After assisting senior members of the department with audits carried out in the office, I was given my first outing with Major T; not a pleasant experience. Then for six months I was assigned to larger audits with both Mr B and Mr C, agreeable men and valuable experience towards obtaining higher maths for my InstItute studies. The first of my black marks, during my second year, occurred when my senior clerk was found with a female employee in a very delicate situation in the basement of the firm we were auditing. Ordered back to head Office immediately, I was bawled out, not knowing what was going on, nor who was the female in question. My first outing on my own was remarkable, too. “Mr X is not in today and you must ignore any noises you hear from upstairs.” Turned out that he had been on a bender for four days, locked out by his wife but, on her letting him back, there were screams, shouts and bangings from the living rooms upstairs (ignore! ignore!). We tried not to laugh.

An awkward client, one of many an antique silver establishment owned by a short-tempered woman nobody wanted to deal with. She complains to my Head Office, but asks me to return for next year’s audit all the same.

We had our good moments too Bradman at Lords, his last tour, so we worked our socks off, skived off and said “Good morning, Sir” to my partner, so nothing was said. Saved again. Study leave work from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Seven papers to take, 3 hours each, must pass all at once or take them all again next year Six weeks after exams, post arrives at home. Is it a fat envelope (failed – retake application form enclosed)? No, it’s thin. All exams passed. Parents cannot contain themselves. 500 guineas saved. We all report in at Head Office. The assessment manager looks at me: I nod; he grins; the wonder boy of the department. There is a god in heaven after aiL I am now a semi-senior audit clerk, sent off to serve King, Queen and Country for a couple of years , but that is another story, if anyone is interested.

Produced and edited monthly by Ian Scales (01737 553704)
for The Coulsdon Probus Club.
Edition No 86.

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