July 2017

Club News

We have to report that our Chairman, Gerry Thompson, was involved in a bad car accident last month which left him very shaken though physically ok. But he’s feeling much better now and plans to be back in the chair on Thursday.

June’s meeting was attended by 37 members who raised £33.20 for the Chariman’s charity. The raffle raised £31. Members signed a birthday card for Reg Baker’s 87th Birthday. Phil Munson is back home after his falls and hospital stays – contrary to the scam email many received, Phil is not in the Ukraine and does not need £600 to get home.

If you, your partner or another member is unwell, please contact our almoner: hughroberts67@aol.com, 01737 202243.
Monthly meeting attendance, please contact Andrew Kellard on 01737 554055.

 Outings and Events

Midsomer Murder Country: 20th June – a splendid time was had by all.  The day started with tea and coffee in the George Hotel, the scene for 4 murders in the TV series.  We then crossed the road for a tour of the Abbey opposite before returning to the George for lunch.  After lunch we embarked on a tour of the Midsomer Murders locations before boarding our boat for a cruise on the Thames to Goring Lock.

When we arrived at Goring Lock we discovered that this was the home of George Michael and where he died.  Outside the house was tributes to George from fans from all over the world.

Orpheus Centre Bletchingley (for young disabled artists): Tuesday 11th July.

Ladies Lunch: 19th October – please diarise. An entertainer has been booked. Contact: Please phone Jim on 01737 555974 or email jim@mulvey.uk.net

Quiz: Our annual quiz will be on 16th November – a special fund-raising event inviting other Probuses is being considered – watch this space.

50th Anniversary Year 2018

The committee will report following their latest meeting. We are planning a bumper presence at the Old Coulsdon fair for our 50th anniversary in 2018.


Today: John Halligan: The Lord Mayor of London August 3rd: Glenda Law: Wildlife of the Seychelles September 7th: Rupert Mathews: Women at War October 5th: National Trust: Peter Jones

Editorial – Ian Payne

Under ‘Club News’, I’ve recorded the scam email sent in Phil Munson’s name. I don’t suppose any one of us sent off £600 but surely Phil’s system was compromised and his address book stolen. I’ve had recent phishing emails: Sky – your registration is incomplete, please register now; BT Mail – important information about your BT email account. If you’re in doubt about the authenticity of an email, then don’t ‘click here’. Sometimes hovering above where they want you to click will show the URL at the bottom of the screen – if it doesn’t look right then ignore. Or you can phone your supplier to check if it’s genuine.

Headline news last month included BA’s worldwide systems loss due to power failure. This didn’t ring true. I used to run a large computer network and we had Universal Power Supply (UPS), a system that switches in if there is a sudden power surge or power is lost, we had mirrored servers whereby data is stored in real time in two different places and our data centre had two power supplies from two different utilities. These systems prevent downtime – where were BA?

Then there was the case of the NHS being hit by ‘ransomware’. Apparently they were using an old version of Windows and/or they hadn’t installed the latest update from Microsoft. What puzzles me is that nobody blames Microsoft for all the holes in their systems. If a patch (update) can prevent unauthorised access why wasn’t that patch in the software originally. I suspect their software is only tested for what it’s meant to do, not for what it might do if an unexpected input is encountered. I have a 1983 Collins Gem ‘Basic Facts – Computers’. Definition: ‘Bug: A mistake in a program or an error in the working of the computer. (An unidentified extra facility).’

‘ R A T I O N I N G ’ by Reg Baker
Part 2(ii) – Overcoming the Challenges of World War Two (cont.)

The previous instalment of this series (q.v. newsletter March 2017) identified some of the challenges and deprivations arising from hostilities, together with their impact upon the lifestyle of virtually every household, and others, in Great Britain, due to the implementation of a system of rationing for the availability of food and other commodities. This theme continues. In particular, one constraint upon the housewife/shopper was the legal requirement for consumers to be registered with specific retailers/suppliers, thereby not allowing the option for consumers to shop around for certain rationed foodstuffs. However, this system did minimise time-wasting and/or abortive queuing and this, combined with government controlled prices, keeping costs down, resulted in the system of rationing being hailed by all and sundry for its fairness and degree of protection. (For more information on this refer to a later instalment).

Backtracking a little for the moment, with regard to sources and availability of foodstuffs, some respite for the shopper/housewife came about in 1941 by the introduction of an additional and more flexible system of rationing that allowed the consumer to buy certain goods at any shop where they were available. A points system with special ration books, allocating 16 points per head per month; which could be used, initially, for the purchase of tinned meats (including Spam), fish and beans: but later extended to include biscuits, tinned fruit, pasta, porridge, oats, dried fruits, rice and pulses, items of clothing, foot ware, and head ware: with an increased allowance of points. The latter items proved to be a challenge to brides-to-be who had to beg, borrow, and/or cajole family and friends to donate or lend sufficient points to get even the bare essentials of a wedding outfit including accessories. During 1948, there was easing of the nuptial situation by some items of clothing being taken off ration, whilst the coupon value of others was reduced.

Despite food restrictions and some lack of availability, every housewife, through necessity, became inventive in applying ingenuity to make meagre rations go further and to avoid monotony of the daily diet, and also became something of a conjuror to produce the proverbial (and sometimes actual) rabbit out of the hat for Sunday lunch: saving vegetable water and meat bones to make soup with the aid of an Oxo cube, in baking to eke out the sugar ration, (sugar later becoming as rare as hens’ teeth), by using dates and raisins as sweeteners in puddings, and also making cakes such as gingerbread, date fingers, and the like, that required little or no sugar; and making maximum use of ‘left-overs’. The Ministry of Food published a recipe for an eggless Christmas pudding; Food manufacturer McDougall supplied a recipe for the eggless family cake using saccharine. Other food manufacturers also provided ‘economy’ recipes using their products as appropriate. One popular creamy dessert, junket, was obtained by thickening milk using rennet and adding flavouring/sweetener.

Most of the above restrictions and other conditions did not primarily or directly concern the writer: as a nine year old child, my main interest being that there would be food upon the table (some preferred it on a plate!) at mealtimes – which there always was – however modest, albeit a few slices bread and jam together with a mug of tea, all that provided being readily and rapidly consumed. The one exception to this was that sometimes the family Sunday lunch consisted of tripe and onions (considered by some as a delicacy even to this day!) with vegetables. The sight of pieces of a ruminant’s rubbery stomach lining, honeycombed or plain, floating in a milky-white watery liquid was, to me, somewhat revolting: being unattractive in both appearance and taste. Consequently very little was eaten by me apart from a few accompaniments. (There was also the battle of the chocolate blancmange, but that’s another story!). Nevertheless, I have no lasting memory of going hungry during periods of food rationing. Appetite yes, hunger no! Additionally, probably as result of collective action combined with the culinary skills and economies on the part of the housewife, there also appeared to be a reasonable amount of ‘goodies’ available for the celebration of Festivals and family anniversaries.

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