March 2005

THE MONARCHY

shapeimage_1-13We live in odd times. Some would call them dangerous while others might consider the changes talked about as being long overdue. This Editor comes into the first category, a Royalist to the core.

I don’t have to spell it out, but for over a thousand years this country of ours has developed under the rule of a Monarch, so there is something right about it. We have moved from being an off-shore bunch of warring tribes ignored by the wider Roman-based European empires, to being the best in the world, with a worldwide language, ruling a quarter of the human race in a way that has turned out to be more practical than the alternatives available; better, anyhow, than the current shambles of so-called ‘self-governing* countries rife with autocracy and corruption.

For this, we can thank our system of having a Royal family, governing through elected representatives of the people, but always with the next Head ready to take over without the uncertainty of wondering who will succeed to the Throne. Yes, there have been slip-ups along the way, but the last 350 years have been relatively smooth. Compare and contrast our history in this period with the likes of China, Greece, Russia, Spain, France and the USA, in that chronological order of Top Nations. We stand out like a good deed in a naughty world. They’re just jealous.

You’ll know without my telling you that all this has been brought on by the current palaver over Prince Charles’s wedding plans. Let’s face it: his intentions are hardly unexpected; it’s not as though he had produced someone totally unknown at me last minute as his prospective bride, so why all the fuss? Her Majesty’s and His advisors seem to have been asleep at the wheel of State, but they’ve caught up, the sad thing being that their doziness gave the media the time of their lives, airing their views on the future, or the lack of one, for the Monarchy and talk about a republican alternative. Out of the woodwork have come all the politicians with their only true remedy: drop me whole Royal thing and let us join the EU as just another province of that benighted unworkable system which is to be ruled by a President. Guess who they have in mind for that position.

No, let Charles and Camilla marry, let Charles reign in his turn and remember, all of us, that it is he our armed forces swear to serve, not our political masters.

Speakers

shapeimage_2-11If we ever feel that life ‘abroad’ (which, we are assured, is ‘bloody’), we just have to recall Peter Fernee and his story of my walk from Arundel to Amberley, of the wonderful River Arun, its towns, villages, woods, lakes, churches and indeed the splendid selection of pubs along the route. All without sight or sound of modern life, except possibly the drone of high-flying jets winding their way towards Abroad.

We have much to be thankful for, in this corner of England and it is me aim of the Surrey Wildlife Trust that we are made aware of this. “Surrey?” Well, yes, since both counties are named for Saxon tribes and while they hated eachother much some fifteen hundred years ago, the South Saxons have made it up with the East Saxons (southern branch), so now canals, railways and roads (additional to those driven through by the hated Romans) cut and slice their way through the Andreswald forest and we can enjoy the wonderful scenery only forty miles south.

With a guide like Peter, we can’t go wrong. Tempted to take a dip in the Arun? Don’t; it is one of the fastest-flowing rivers in these parts and has a huge tidal range that would (a) take you one way or the other and (b) at low tide the scoured banks would stop you climbing out. Spend time cooling off in the quiet of an historic church or sip a pint of local beer where King Charles I hid from the Roundheads on his way to France 350 years ago. He loved the scenery and so would you.

There was too much in Peter’s tale of a five-mile patch of Sussex to report on here. But never too much for his attentive audience, some of whom had made the trip themselves. There is no doubt that many more of us will head for mat wonderful country when Summer graces us in four months’ time.

Personally, I’m not going just yet. As I write, the snow is freezing onto the ice laid down last night. Patience, my friends, it will all come right and later we shall enjoy the walk all the more for having heard Peter’s description.

Today:

Not a speaker as such, but the more important Annual General Meeting, laying down who shall do what with whom for the next twelve months of our Club. We all have something to contribute and it doesn’t all happen only to Committee Members. This your chance to offer your services.

April 7th:

Alan Thomas has lived in, studied and worked in, at and for New York, New York. A lively, experienced speaker on a subject close to his heart.

May 5th:

More from Sussex! Andy Thomas is coming up from Lewes to tell us of Crop Circles. Now, keep a straight face; he believes.

June 2nd:

Sir Bernard Ingham, a real catch for us. Details later, but he is a splendid speaker, no matter what the subject.

Club News

First, a word about the back page of this edition of the Newsletter. Your Editor was telephoned a couple of weeks ago by Joe Vincent ofLifesyne, who said we had been recommended to him as good place to advertise his products and if we agreed we would be paid for me space. We told him we had a circulation of 55, but that up to 4,000 “hits’ are recorded annually on our website, coming from all over the English-speaking world and it was mis latter that decided him to press for our agreement. After a check with our Chairman and Treasurer, agreement was made.

It is just for one month, though if they do well enough, they may come back for more, in which case you may look for a six-page Newsletter if your editor can think of enough to fill them. Their fee is sufficient to pay for a whole yea^s production of the Newsletter, with some left over, so it is a good deal for us. I just don’t want to see our monthly chat surrounded by advertisements and especially if it means holding over vital contributions from you, our readers. (We could, of course, give the front page for contributions, but having just told you all that 550 words is maximum, to ask you to reduce that small total to about 400 words would dry up the source overnight.)

When I signed up for the outing to the Docklands Museum I failed to spot that it clashed with masonic duties and so was unable to go to what, from all accounts, was a typically splendid trip organised by Phil Munson. I’ve taken on too many responsibilities, is the truth, but they’re there and this was a long-standing one. No matter, the rest of you enjoyed it so much that I shall make a point of going there on my own account ere long.

Another outing in the offing: The Day Excursion to Caithness Crystal & African Violet Centre in King’s Lynn. Something for the technocrats among us as well as the artists and the ladies (who, I hasten to explain may also be in either or both of the former groups. Phew! Nearly blew it.) Anyhow, if you want to go, get a leaflet from Brian Blakeney and then contact Carol of Consort Tours on 020 8657 8800 to make the booking for Wednesday April 27th., noting an early start (8 a.m.) from outside Janes on the Brighton Road next to Coulsdon library.

Do you watch and listen to ‘University Challenge’ on BBC2 on Monday evenings? I do, learning that the limits of my knowledge are profound indeed but enjoying filling the odd gap therein for the short while before my ancient brain rejects it as not being of any use and I’ve lived thus far without knowing. There is, however, a clue right at the start of each programme that has proved to be an exact forecast of the result for that evening. No need to wonder who will win, just listen when the team members are introducing themselves to us: “Hi, I’m Joe Soap from Coulsdon and I’m reading Greats.” “Hi, I’m Fred Fotheringay from Croynge and I’m reading medicine”; and so on. Losers all. Now listen to the other team: “Hello, I’m Jack Spratt and I’m doing my PhD” and so forth, a winner if ever I heard one.

The difference? “Hi” and “Hello.” ffi will lose. Hello will win. I spotted this several years ago and so far it is absolute. Takes the fun out of waiting, though.

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Produced and edited monthly by Ian Scales (01737 553704)
for The Coulsdon Probus Club.
Edition No 99.

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