February 2012

HOW WE HAVE CHANGED

IMG_2654A few months ago I was listening to a radio discussion with some men saying how life and society has changed in their time, when one of them said “In the earlier part of the last century…” and then went on to offer examples of change.  The point was that he was referring to the year I was born!  ‘Earlier part… last century’, it made me feel about a hundred years old.

Still, it is indeed true that we have seen tremendous changes in our lifetime; not just after the war (see back page), nor getting married, nor bringing up children, nor changes to the way we had to work.  Seeing the neighbours change and how their style changed too.

IMG_2658I have lived in the same house for the past forty-four years and in the early days we had a family of children on each side to match the ages of our own, but now it is a grown-up family there; next to them was another family of children but now an elderly couple whose children have fled.  Yes, there are a few houses with young families still on the road, but nothing like the numbers there were then.  As an aside, my garden seems to have multiplied by about five times in size and effort, but that is just my own old age.

stoatsThe big change in England, though, is the huge immigrant population now, compared with say forty years ago.  I don’t mean just Coulsdon, where there has always been a huge percentage of incomers to the town, but the country at large.  Take Croydon as our nearest example:  I sometimes catch a bus to Mayday hospital and from about the middle of Croydon onwards I have been the only white person on board.  Equally, there are areas where English is a second language to the majority of all races living there.

How and why has this happened?  In 1977 I think it was, a law was passed that gave British nationality to everyone living in the old Empire, making it easier for them to move to a better climate for living and working with automatic right to being British.  Then there was joining the European Union which allowed Europeans the same rights as natives.

Is this a good thing?  Yes, in my opinion, provided they adopt British ways of life: no attempts by them to force their laws, languages, religions, attitudes and such on those of us who were born and bred here.

Dammit, they should become true Britons.

Speakers

It is not often that we have a speaker who stands out by the clarity of her voice, the smooth speaking and the clarity of making their points, but all of these were our pleasure to listen to at our meeting last month, when Mary Moore, a member of the London Appreciation Society, came to tell us – and show us with splendid pictures – the Hidden London that few of us realised was on our doorstep.

Your Editor was particularly delighted because so much of the London she spoke about was in and around Fleet Street, an area which he thought he knew something of having worked there for a number of years.

File-Architectura_Ecclesiastica_Londini_St_John_of_Jerusalem_ClerkenwellOne supposes that London, being the world leader in so many ways for so many centuries, must have been subject to disasters over time, and this was shown to us in many ways.  Some of us are old enough to remember the blitz of the 1940s, but the amount of damage to places such as the Inns of Court, which had effectively be rebuilt, came as a surprise.

St. John’s Church in Clerkenwell, too, was rebuilt after being blitzed, but its Norman crypt survived and remains a testimony to the Grand Masters of the Order of St. John.

The Cheshire Cheese pub survived both the blitz and the great fire of London in 1666, as did Gough square famous for having the home of Dr. Johnson in it, along with the security chains on all its doors.

12433193The Assay Office to test coins and silver and gold objects; the Waxchandlers’ Hall with its beeswax candles in opposition to the Tallowchandlers’ Hall; the Ironmongers’ Hall with its plaque marking the death of St. Lawrence on a gridiron; the Barber Surgeons’ Hall reminding us that barbers not only shaved and cut hair but were the original surgeons; we saw and heard about so many historical societies and churches by the dozen.

39940786We live well within reach of these and the many other historical wonders of London, yet how many of us use our free train tickets and go to see them?  Precious few of us, I’ll warrant.

Mary was a really delightful eye-opener.

Today:Ian Payne tells us about genealogy.

March 1st:         Andrew Banfield – our Chairman’s charity.

April 5th:Derek Barr, about Fairfield Halls

May 3rd:Jack Devlin’s Magic Life

Club News

Last month’s meeting was special in that it was a Special General Meeting, called specifically to agree – or object – to changes in the Club’s Constitution.  They were minor changes and the details are available on the notice board, but they were all agreed.  The opportunity was taken to tell us that the Club showed a surplus of some £400 on outings and trips and the suggestion was put that £150 of it be added to the Chairman’s Charity.

Reg Baker has asked that we record the welcome given to our new member Gerrard Thompson (telephone 020 8668 2385) at our January meeting.  Please will members add Gerrard’s name to the List.

Phil Munson is slowly recovering from a nasty fall he had on his way to our January meeting, breaking several bones in his leg. He was rushed to hospital where they operated.  We wish you s speedy recovery, Phil and to your family a gentle relaxation in having to look after you.

Ray Harris‘ wife Enid had a heart attack a couple of nights before Christmas and was rushed to Mayday hospital in the wee small hours after being attended to by medic who arrived ten minutes after the 999 call; the ambulance came fifteen minutes later and Ray says he cannot fault the service they have given Enid since.  She is still having to go to hospital regularly to check the effect of the warfarin they have her on; rat poison it may be, but a great help to recovery to us humans.

Andrew Kellard having recovered from his collapse at the golf club is now undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.  He is treating it light-heartedly but still has a long way to go to recovery.

Norman Cockcroft’s wife was rushed into hospital with internal bleeding and is being operated on.

Jim Mulvey, having given a splendid talk to the Bourne Society last month, is extending his talks on local history to several Probus Clubs and is generously paying the fee money he gets to the Old Coulsdon Centre; so far he has sent £270 and there’s more to come, he tells us.

Jim says he is organising several trips and outings in the coming months and will duly advise us of them.  There’s a wonderful outing with Sanderstead Probus on March 27th to the National Theatre and then on to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, with time before the coach arrives to nip up to the observatory and stand with one foot either side of the Meridian, thus straddling the East and West.  A good £25-worth.

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