April 2003


shapeimage_1-2I have thought to start a new political party which I am sure would catch on- The Presbycrats, being formed by and for the Elders of Society. The first person I bounced this off said “I’m not a Presbyterian”, so a new name is needed Why Greek anyway? Our own Anglo-Saxon language yields ‘Elderpower’; no, not brought on by copious draughts of Elderberry wine. Jokes like that would be outlawed. There are some 9m or 10m of us pensioners in the UK, all hankering for proper government by intelligent people with experience of life, taking no account of political correctness, nor giving children whatever they demand; discipline returned to the schools, with an Elderman allocated to every school to ensure its application Children would be taught how to learn; they would play competitive sports and try to win.

There would be instant fines from walking policemen on everyone chucking rubbish about, especially chewing gum and crisps packets. The judicial system would force criminals to respect them, handing out hard labour with flogging for drug sellers, as well as for burglars, petty thieves, arsonists and other thrill seekers like those who damage parked cars or steal them.

Our Chancellor would remove taxes on the pleasures of this life, replacing them by the recovering ill-gotten gains from thieves, including the fat cats of business who swallow dividends properly belonging to savers like us. National Service would be reintroduced.

Younger members of society would be allowed to join, but only after close examination of their habits and upbringing. With a voting base of many millions we would win every election, both national and local. It would take three generations to change beliefs and minds of everyone to our way of thinking, before Granny in the inglebrook stopped harking back to the so-called ‘good old days’, corrupting her grandchildren, but after that we would have bred sound members of society and even intelligent politicians and be the envy of lesser breeds without Lex Britannicum.

The A G M

No speaker at our March meeting, though we did have a lady in the Speaker’s Chair, Jennifer Oakshott having been invited in order to accept our cheque for £550 to ARCS, the charity nominated by Bryan Chilton, our retiring Chairman. Gentlemen, that is a tremendous sum from a bunch of retirees and Jennifer said so, adding her thanks to us all.

The AGM itself went smoothly, except that Secretary George Davis claimed his predecessor had failed to produce minutes of last year’s AGM and so he was unable to read any. Not so, Brother George; by the time you read this you will have had a second copy. It is easily done, I assure you all; I can lose paperwork in minutes, never mind a whole year.

Bryan Chilton summarised his year in office as being “good all round”. It was, too, with membership kept up and even increasing slightly, but if it was satisfactory it was due largely to the hard work put into running the Club by the Committee: Malcolm Ruscoe-Pond gave a very satisfactory financial report. For a small club like us, a turnover of some £7000 needs careful administration and Malcolm provides just that. To be able to carry forward just under £500 provides a comfortable cushion for the future, as auditor Harry Cundell confirmed.

Reg Baker was thanked for the smooth way each and every meeting eats its way through an excellent lunch, nearly always with the right number of covers provided, though he asked that we be more careful about letting him know if we are or are not coming, and not to leave it until Thursday morning before telling him. There are members who have been away for two or more meetings, so Reg is unaware of their intention to attend. If this applies to you, be sure to call Reg (020 8660 6662). Brian Blakeney had had a most successful year attracting interesting speakers and Christmas Carollers. Every month he has to have someone lined up and that is a steady drain on the supply as well as a strain on Brian’s nerves. He hasn’t let us down yet, nor is he likely to in the foreseeable future.

Stan Rogers proved his ability in the matter of Outings Person during the year and this was noted by at last including the position in the official Committee list. This change to our Constitution was made by an overwhelming AGM vote. Outings are the devil to organise, largely due to us members who say we are coming, but don’t, or say they are not coming but turn up at the last minute. Welcome to the Committee, Stan, you have earned it.

Harry Cundell continues to ensure that each and every member has at least one Probus tie to wear at meetings (as well as when outside Probus: it often produces comment from a stranger who belongs to another Club, or results in finding a soul lost in outer darkness who can be welcomed in). Stickpins and other haberdashery can also be got from Harry.

Ray Harris continued – and will go on doing so – his organisation of Drivers tor the Landsdowne Clubs. This is vital to their aged members and much appreciated by all. If you want to offer your name as a volunteer, do tell Ray (020 8668 1205).

By tradition, and for vital support on many occasions, we include two Committee members ‘without portfolio’. This year Peter Barker, who has been recovering from a serious heart condition and Doug Elliott have performed their duties as called on. Doug has resigned now and has been replaced by Jim Mulvey who will, apart from anything else the Committee throws at him, become our Webmaster. He is skilled in such matters and will be providing help and information to members who want to set up their own Internet connection, as well as developing our Club site.

Another irregularity cleared up by vote at the AGM was formally to include the Immediate Past Chairman as an official member of the Committee. Up to now he, most recently and satisfactorily Ken Carter, has been co-opted, but henceforth the position will be included as an Qfficer. The first to be so appointed is Bryan Chilton, who immediately proceeded to instal our Chairman for the coming year, Brian Blakeney. We can expect a lively year.

The final position – and a vital one – that was filled was that of Vice Chairman, who automatically advances to Chairman next year. This time, and not before time, the honour falls on the willing shoulders of Bill Brinkley. How he has dodged Chairmanship for so long remains a mystery. Typical of the man, he has spent years as a member doing Useful Things (e.g. Secretary). His high position now and later will not allow him to stop his other valuable support to our Club.

New Chairman Brian, bowed down by the weight of his Chain of Office, summarised the year ahead as being one when we must encourage lots of new members and also ‘get back’ those who are still around but never come to meetings. One of the latter who should be present this month is Archie Shepherd and very welcome he is too.

And so the second oldest Probus Club in the world reaches into another year of life and service to our community. The members named above are there for their work with our Club, but many more of our number are active in other community work. Watch these pages for a list, one day. Meanwhile, tell me what you know. Success of a different kind to report: Tom Nevin sent an reply to a questionnaire in a recent Probus Magazine, probably more to while away a rainy afternoon than with any serious object in mind. His efforts were rewarded with a runner-up prize comprising payment for a whole year of his car insurance. Well done, Tom; it’s nice to know that real people actually win these things.



They’re all around us, making life look and sound better.

Gregor Brinkley reports on his hobby of Birds.

May 1st:

Mike Carrigan tells us about Sweatmarks in Swaziland. Mike worked as a fingerprint expert with the Home Office for years and has spent time in Swaziland too.

Bali – an island balanced by a mountain
From an article by Christina Egan

shapeimage_2-2In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, the Jewish villagers ask the Rabbi if there is a blessing for a new sewing machine, so he makes one up and mumbles away. In Bali there certainly is one, as there is for a car or a computer. There, everything is sacred, be it human, an animal, a place or a thing. For instance trees used for building are placated with offerings before they are felled and brought back to life with another ceremony after construction is completed.

On Bali, religion permeates daily life, even shaping the layout of a village, at the centre of which there is a holy tree and in the centre of the whole island a sacred mountain range to which all houses are orientated. The family homes are seen in terms of the human body, with the house shrine and the holy mountains each corresponding to the head. Modem business buildings follow the ancient rules and three daily prayers are generally observed.

According to Balinese mythology, the island was once rocking on the ocean, so the gods placed Mount Agung on it for stability and to guarantee peace and harmony thereon. This anchor seems to have worked: to this day violent and sexual crime is virtually unknown and even prostitution and pickpocketing exist only in tourist areas, carried out by foreigners to the island.

Belief in harmony is manifested in the traditional process of decision-making: All male married members of the community assemble and discuss the issues until 100-percent consent is achieved. This archaic democracy, which is to be found in many other indigenous societies, would be a bit lengthy to imitate in our fast world at any level, but it is certainly worth keeping in mind.

The Balinese believe in the parallel and corresponding existence of two worlds: the seen and the unseen, as indeed do Christians as averred in the Creed. We may have our sacred and beautiful holy places like cathedrals, but does it affect our daily lives? In Bali, it does, on their roads and in their homes.

The most exciting things on Bali seem to be the religious festivities, which include music and dance, puppet plays and drama, mixing mythology, tragedy, comedy and romance into one concept. We seem to approach it by secularisation, searching for our spiritual roots.

The traditional Balinese opera is attended by thousands of people, in fact whole communities. Are they obliged to go, as was the case in ancient Athens, or are they just thrilled to be there? The performances can last from late at night to sunrise which, with the mixed concepts involved makes it sound like a summer solstice show in Shakespeare’s Globe united with worship at a cathedral.

Produced and edited monthly by Ian Scales (01737 553704)
for The Coulsdon Probus Club.
Edition No 76.

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