August 2014

Editorial – Ian Payne

Is it time to talk about the weather again? It’s been hot and stormy and we love it. Do take pity on my son who’s in Kuwait for the next two years – it’s 110°F (43°C) there at the moment.

I’m short of copy again for the back page. Being summer, maybe some short stories or anecdotes from your holidays (see my New York story page 3) could be strung together to make a seasonal piece.


Today: Brian Cumming MBE .KCStG., a Chelsea Pensioner will give a talk to commemorate the start of WW1
September 4th: Glenda Law: Island Hopping
October 2nd: Christine Jarvis: The rag, tag, and bobtail years

Club News

Membership now stands at 47. There were 31 members plus our speaker in July. £34.18 was collected for the Chairman’s Charity and £29 for the Amenity Fund (raffle). A membership list update will be issued in October.
Laurie Painting has been admitted to Mayday with breathing difficulties.
Don Wilkinson has been in hospital as has Alan Horwell. David Holmes is having a hip operation. Please advise news of members to almoner,, tel: 01737 202243. Please remember to let Andrew Kellard know if you can’t attend a meeting: tel: 01737 554055.

Transport: Members endorsed the committee’s decision to give three months notice to PACE (Purley & Cousdon Clubs for the Elderly). This is due to reduced volunteer drivers and some concerns over car insurance.

Outings and Events

Ladies Lunch, Coulsdon Manor, Thursday 16th Oct: We are low on bookings.
Coulsdon Probus Quiz, Thursday 20th November evening: Diarise.
Our website (see back page) events section covers all our outings with write-ups and pictures (click on a picture to enlarge).

Guest Speaker: Bob Ogley
Biggin on the bump

Bob OgleyThis was Bob’s second visit to Coulsdon Probus. Previously, he talked about the V1 and V2 WW2 German rockets. As we ate our lunch we wondered what the title meant – was it about Biggin Hill or was ‘Biggin’ an unknown adventurer on the ‘Bump’ (wherever that might be)? It turned out to be the former.

Bob had edited a local Sevenoaks newspaper for many years. Then following the great storm of 1987, he wrote a book ‘In the wake of the hurricane’. He had to publish privately, but it reached the top ten, selling 265 thousand copies. He was shortly asked by the Commander of Biggin Hill to write a history of this most famous WW2 airfield and so, against advice, he left his paper to become an author. He agreed to donate the commission of this particular book to the RAF Benevolent Fund.

urlsa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&,dWhy ‘The Bump’? It’s what the pilots called it – ‘over the Channel, over the Weald, over the North Downs and there was that little hill (Biggin) or bump on which one had to land’. So Bob set off to interview pilots and anyone who had an interesting story to tell. Of course, stories get exaggerated over the years – many old boys’ stories became highly embellished and were quite untrue. A short anecdote, based on the (true) downing by the Home Guard of a Dornier at Biggin Hill, was of a lady asking “What plane were the Focke(r)s flying?”

urlsa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http3A2F2Fhauntedearthghostvideos.blogspot.com2F20132F092Fthe-ghosts-of-biggin-hill-ww2-raf.html&ei=fR5aVITVDYuhgwSkyYPYBA&bvm=bv.7867Bob went on to tell us some of the stories from his book ‘Biggin on the Bump’ all based on personal interviews and diaries. There was the one about the WAF, Elizabeth Mortimer, who braved the burning airfield to plant flags next to all the unexploded bombs. Then the pilot who took a Spitfire to fetch his girlfriend for a party – he sat on her lap!

urlsa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw& Biggin Hill pilots were decorated, 453 aircraft lost and by 1943, 990 aircraft shot down. The BBC’s Gilbert Harding reported on a sweepstake for the pilot to shoot down the 1000th. The prize was shared by French and Canadian pilots who simultaneously downed two Focke-Wulf (Wölfe). The celebrations in Grosvenor House went on late into the night, the honour of the pilots and WAFs being rescued by fleets of London Cabbies. At the 50th anniversary in 1990, pilots from all over the world gathered at Mote Park, Maidstone, ferried from their hotels by the sons and grandsons of those same London Cabbies. Biggin Hill airfield closed in 1992.

Your Editor in America
We were mostly in Washington DC with our grandchildren, but on the way back we spent a few days in New York and visited Ellens Stardust Diner on Broadway. We’ve all heard of would-be stars ending up as waiters, but here the waiters sing and dance waiting to be spotted and hoping for an audition. And yes, it’s the real waiters and waitresses who take it in turns in-between serving.

Old Coulsdon Fair 5th July 2014
Old Coulsdon FairA big thank you to Jim Mulvey for running our stand and to all those who supported Jim. To Shouts of “Spin the Wheel and win a bottle of wine for £1” and “Play Your Cards Right” Probus was collecting for our Chairman’s Charity, Macmillan Support Group – and, of course, getting our club better known. I noticed that our shove-ha’penny game has gone decimal!

Early Times – Part 2 – Shopping & Waste Management

urlsa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&,dIn Part 1 (Newsletter, May 2014), reference was made to wastage – food wastage – and methods adopted by housewives to minimise or even eliminate heedless or extravagant behaviour. Since those days a separate crippling form of waste has come about, i.e. packaging and commodity waste, the development of which may, very broadly, be traced as follows.

urlsa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http3A2F2Fwww.comberhistory.com2Fchsphoto3.htm&ei=TyFaVNrjOsHRgwTepYLYAQ&bvm=bv.78677474,dDuring the 1930’s domestic shopping was mostly carried out on a daily basis with the traditional, much used shopping bag or basket, to the fore. This routine was mainly the outcome of refrigerators not being in universal use, reliance often being placed upon cold slabs in pantries, meat safes, and devices which cooled by evaporation, a situation which, in the main, persisted until the 1950’s. During that time many goods were delivered to local shops in bulk. Notable examples of this being dairy products such as butter; biscuits in large tins; and sweets displayed in long rows of colourful mouth-watering arrays of large glass jars. Most orders were dispensed by weight, scales being an essential accessory of almost all retail business. For dairy products such as butter, the retailer, having cut and weighed the required amount from a bulk supply, this was then patted into the required shape using a pair of wooden paddles, these often being impressed with the name or logo of the dairy or shop, (was this the origin of the expression ”a pat of butter”?). Biscuits, having been delivered in large tins, inevitably resulted in many breakages to the delight of young children, as it was possible to purchase a bag of broken biscuits, even including some of those of the more succulent varieties, for a few old pennies or even less. Today, apart from surviving, traditional butcher’s and greengrocer’s shops, weighing scales have virtually disappeared from retail business, mainly due to pre-packaging.

Most, if not all orders were passed to the customer single wrapped in either greaseproof paper or in paper bags, all of which were considered to be ‘compostable’. Consequently total household wastage was of low volume, (mainly ash from open coal fires,), collected as weekly household rubbish and, apart from use of ash in some building products’, was consigned to landfill by the Local Authority without a second thought. The era of the supermarket with its combined food and multi packaging wastage, amounting to many millions of tonnes each year, had yet to arrive, together with environmental damage, landfill tax, controversy over disposal by incinerator and recycling – but all that is yet another tale to be told!

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