August 2023

There is no lunch meeting in August.

July: Vice Chairman, Andrew Carver (in the Chair), welcomed 19 members and guest speaker, Simon Waterfield.

Update on Members: Tony Farrell is back in hospital making slow progress with movement. The next phase is Neuro Rehab. Cyril Ranasinghe has pelvis problems and is waiting for an operation. Dave Garner is quite unwell with memory etc. Patricia Mills (Peter’s wife) had a bad fall – back at home (no broken bones). John Pendleton home after 4 months in hospital using walking frame and has pacemaker. Martyn Pyle suffering from long covid. Ian Cullen in care home, not always lucid. Owen Kelly still undergoing treatment following biopsy.

Please complete Emergency Contact Form if you have not already.


Westerham Brewery Tour 27th July – much enjoyed by all.
Trip to Wimbledon & Museum September. Theatre trip later in year.
ProbusQuiz 24th Nov: contact:,T:01737554449.

Lunch changes by 10.30am the prior Tuesday to T: 020 8660 6063. Member News to Welfare Sec., Bill Ainsworth T: 020 8660 0399. Please email with articles/news for the Newsletter.

Speaker: 7th September: Peter Stammers ‘What you may not Know About Operation Chastise’.

Gerrald (Gerry) Thompson: 1937–2023
by his daughter Sarah

Gerrard “Gerry” Oldham Thompson peacefully passed away on 3rd July 2023 in Sutton, England. He was 85. During his courageous battle with medical issues in recent years, he never lost his sense of humour. Gerry’s resolute personality remained strong until the end.

Gerry is survived by his son Christopher (Vancouver, CA) and daughter Sarah (Tucson, USA). He was a proud grandfather to Thea, James, Ross and Sean. He is also survived by his former wife, Angela (Cape Town, ZA). He was preceded in death by his sister, Pamela.

Gerry was born on 13th October 1937 to Cyril Alexander Thompson and Phyllis Beryl Gerrard, Crosby, Lancashire. He was later schooled in Whitley Bay and Newcastle. He studied Civil Engineering and Polymer Technology and subsequently worked for Dunlop for many years. His adventure for life steered him and his family to South Africa in 1979 where many family holidays were spent exploring game parks and mountains. Later work assignments for the World Bank afforded him the opportunity to travel Sri Lanka and Cuba. In 2011 Gerry returned to the country of his birth.

Gerry had a passion for sailing, and he later enjoyed playing golf during his retirement. He inherited his love for art from his mother; he also loved opera and ballet, and was a passionate animal-lover. He was a member of various community organisations in both South Africa and England.

Gerry had been a member of Probus in South Africa, and sought to join a club (ours) in England. He joined in January 2012 and became a much-loved member of Coulsdon Probus which he reciprocated. He was Chairman in 2014 and 2017 and gave several talks to us including one on his collection of English pewter. Gerry will be much missed.

July Speaker: Simon Waterfield — The Tolpuddle Martyrs

Simon dressed as a man from the 1830’s in an agricultural context as would have been in Dorset at that time. He took the part of George Loveless a prominent member of a group of six farm workers transported to Australia for what the court found to be an illegal oath, which substantiated the friendly society/union formed to combat falling wages. Prior to the trial George and Mr. Frampton had met to discuss falling wages. The meeting provided that if all the other landowners agreed there could be an improved offer, but no agreement was reached.

Unions were legal and the local Landowners including James Frampton for whom some of

them worked struggled to find any illegality to prosecute them with. Finally, the Secret Oaths Act was used although it was originally passed to deal with the Spithead Mutinies. The six were convicted by a jury consisting of landowners and tradesmen and sentenced to transportation for six years in 1834. The proceedings were well supported by the established Church of England which was anti Wesleyan. The local Church of England vicar receiving support from Frampton. On his own behalf, Simon had been preaching as a Wesleyan.

On arrival in Australia, they lived a life akin to slavery as unpaid agricultural workers.

Fortunately they were not abandoned by agricultural and reforming elements of the community in England who succeeded in securing a pardon for all of them in 1836. By that time George had been freed and even asked his wife to join him so that they could acquire land and set up a farm, but due partly to communication problems and eventually her firm refusal George returned to England in 1837. The others also returned and were feted in London. Intriguingly, George even applied to Mr. Frampton for a job but was refused. Eventually with help from their supporters they all acquired a seven-year lease on land in Essex. However there was still hostility to them in Dorset and George did not want to take up the chance to buy the leased land. He felt much aggrieved by the actions of the church and wrote a pamphlet condemning their role in the affair. He did continue preaching as a Wesleyan in his own right.

The six may not have wanted to be landowners in England but an opportunity arose in Ontario where land was being effectively given away to encourage settlers to develop the country. Five took their chances and did well without opposition.

Sadly, James Hammett stayed in Tolpuddle on his return from Australia and died in the workhouse in 1891*. *Editor’s note.

Our appreciation goes to Mr Waterfield who must have felt the heat in his costume and gave his talk without notes or visual aids which manifested a good subject knowledge and engaging style of delivery.

‘In the beginning was the warning’ by Vincent Fosdike

We are all familiar with the various warnings contained in religious texts and what we should do to avoid the consequences of ignoring them. In parallel there are of course secular equivalents normally with a legal basis e.g. speed cameras. These really are a form of “passive aggression” representing the exercise of power by one group over another.

Not really a deep thought. But have you noticed that there is a sort of attempted hi jacking of this authority? There is an irritating tendency for the media to issue warnings at every turn, most especially with weather forecasts. Wind rain and sun all come with percentages of risks which are needed for our own good as we are deemed incapable of evaluating such phenomena before leaving the safety of our homes. Curiously the shipping forecast simply gives the figures and must assume that the fishermen will not need to be told when to put on their oilskins!

These types of warnings seem to aggrandise the givers, perhaps to raise their status to an old-style prophet. If challenged, they may reply that it is their social duty to protect the vulnerable which the neglect at the risk of damages claims. They generally do not issue disclaimers of liability which might do the trick.

On balance if you take any interest in warning notices you may come to the conclusion that they are merely put there at the behest of the public liability insurers as a first line of defence. In reality it is hard to find a product or service which is not replete with warnings and exclusions which give the impression that the situation is close to “take it or leave if you feel the risk is too great see the statistics sheet herewith”. Medicines tend to be a good example which can leave the patient going back to their doctor when they spot the all too common contra indication. Frequently the response is not to worry after waiting on the phone for half an hour!

The saturation of warnings has reached the point where a lot of people just say they don’t ever read the leaflet as they would never take medication or book a holiday if they did.

Possible Side Effects of Aspirin 300mg
Like all medicines, Aspirin 300mg can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.
Aspirin may cause allergic reactions and you must STOP taking this medicine and tell your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
• skin rashes or itching or wheezing or coughing or difficulty breathing.

When taking Aspirin 300mg, you may suffer some more serious side effects; STOP taking this medicine and tell your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following: 
• vomiting blood 
• blood in your urine 
• bruising with purple spots 
• coughing up blood (however small the amount)
• any swellings
• black stools
• reduction in red blood cells which can make the skin pale and cause weakness or breathlessness 
• kidney stones (which can cause severe stomach or back pains).

Aspirin may sometimes cause asthma or bronchospasm (narrowing of the airways that causes wheezing or difficulty breathing).
Aspirin may cause bleeding, and you must tell your doctor if you experience any unusual bleeding.

Other side effects of aspirin include: 
• nausea and vomiting 
• ringing in your ears 
• pain or discomfort in your stomach or lower chest after eating.
• liver problems with symptoms that may include a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice), dark yellow urine and fatigue.

Similar responses can be seen to motorway electronic warnings “oh that has been on for hours it is all clear now, you can see it is”. This of course is the Cry Wolf problem.
So is it now time to issue a community internet wide WARNING TO THE WARNERS?

Perhaps something to the effect that causing undue anxiety, depression, frustration and general gloom so as to render their excess warnings inherently hazardous in themselves both to those who read them and those who wilfully avoid them. Could this leave them liable claims for compensation as inherently dangerous to mental wellbeing? Somewhere there must be lawyer waiting to try it. Could there be a no win no fee deal on special offer this week?

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