December 2014

Editorial – Ian Payne

I’m on another diet, that’s the third this year
I’m not allowed nice things to eat, not even any beer
I have to eat lettuce and yoghurt, but they don’t fill me up
I dream of cakes and crisps and chips and hot chocolate in my cup
Day in day out I weigh myself – my diets doing no good
I’m feeling tired and crotchety – I just want some food!
I’m feeling weak and miserable, I’m right down in the dumps
But I can’t stop my diet until I’ve got rid of my lumps
Why do the media imply we can’t be happy if we are fat
I was happy being plump so why can’t I stay like that
But I’ll carry on with diet until I realize
That I’m beautiful just being me, no matter what my size

Club news
Membership is now 44. In November there were 35 members present plus our speaker and two guests – we hope that they will join us. £38.16 collected for the Chairman’s Charity and £33 for the Amenity Fund (raffle). An additional raffle for 30 bottles of bubbly went for £100. Jim Mulvey reported the website is up to date – it has pictures from our events and links to World Probus. Phil Munson has re-engaged Barbara Stevens (74) for our September 2015 lunch – don’t expect her dress code to match the Downe Dames calendar.

We reported the sad death of Alan Horwell last month – an obituary is on the back page. Probus was well represented at Alan’s service. 
Lionel Downton is out of hospital but still on medication. Malcolm Guest is still under the weather. Ian Scales spent a week in hospital under heart observation. We expect both Malcolm and Ian to be with us in January.
Please advise news of members to almoner,, tel: 01737 202243. Attendance: please notify Andrew Kellard, tel: 01737 554055.

In Memoriam

Alan Horwell 1925–2014. Alan was the youngest of a family of five. When war broke out he was a 14½ year old schoolboy. Not wishing to be evacuated, he persuaded his father, Alex, to let him get a job and he became an office boy in an estate agent which fortuitously included a large architectural drawing office. Alan was given training as an architectural draughtsman.

Changing practices gave Alan experience of aircraft production buildings and then factory extensions and canteens but then the war caught up and he was drafted into the army and trained as a sapper and technical draftsman. After Alan’s 2½ years in the army, which included a close encounter with a V1 flying bomb in Belgium, he was released to assist in the post war building programme. He decided to enrol on a 3 nights a week, 7 year Chartered Architect course.

On a trip with army pals to the Isle of Man he met Nancy. They were married in 1952 – Alan designed and built their house in Coulsdon Road. Alan qualified in 1957, and Nigel and Karen arrived in 1961 and 1965. Alan changed practices twice more designing the swimming baths at Morden Park and had a part in the design of the BBC White City Studio.

Alan was devoted to Nancy and the children and their activities. He was a quiet man but could get passionate over an important football match. He was passionate over technology but he was never comfortable with new devices like the mobile phone or the DVD player. The family much appreciate the many condolences from friends including many from Probus remembering Alan as kind, gracious and a true gentleman.

Outings and Events
Coulsdon Probus Quiz: A big thank you to Dennis who masterminded the quiz with his usual aplomb. This year we played in pairs. Scores out of 144 were: Roger & Christine Udall, 85 – nice of Christine to spend her birthday with us (they won yet again even without their other half of Roger & Anne Brunton); Brian & Lorna Blakeney, 78; Andrew Banfield & Jenny, 71; four other pairs were close behind. Thanks to ALL who supported the Quiz and to June Wilson and her daughter Anita, who kindly acted as tea ladies. We’ll include some of the more interesting questions in next month’s Newsletter.

Today: Christmas with the Reverend Malcolm Newman
Christmas lunch today is traditional fare at £22.00
January 8th: Jim Barnes: Water supply in the 21st Century
February 5th: Ian Payne: Decimalisation
March 5th: Chairman’s Charity: Macmillan Support Group

Nick is a Volunteer Guide at Bletchley Park serving both museums: The Mansion which was the house with its 55 acres of land and the Code Breaking activities during WW2.

MansionRecognising that war was likely, The Mansion was bought in 1937 for the Government Code and Cypher School which had previously been in London. Bletchley was an ideal location being within 50 miles and under one hour from London. Also the train from Oxford to Cambridge went through Bletchley which enabled recruitment of the best minds.

The Mansion had been built as a new farm house in 1870. In 1883 it was bought locally by a well-travelled family who wanted to incorporate some of what they had seen. During their tenure there were seventeen extensions. The Mansion has been restored to its best and incorporates wood panelling, multi-coloured marble, library and a ballroom with ornate ceiling.

p02c498kNick next took us on to the breaking of the German Enigma Code. The Admiralty and Army code-breakers came together in the new Cypher Group. The Germans were known to be using the Enigma machine which had been commercially available before the war. It had a keyboard – ten cables to cross connect the letters and five rotors through which the conversion passed – the cables and rotors were set to the day’s settings. The Enigma was a reciprocal rotary encoder – type in the plain text (letter by letter) and out comes the encrypted letter – type in the encrypted letter and out comes the plain text.

alan_turingInitially messages took six to eight weeks to break and remember the settings were being changed every day. Then thanks to ‘computers’ such as Colossus, code was broken in six to eight days and then six to eight hours. Colossus was based on Alan Turing’s pre-war theoretical work on programmable machines.

The Queen unveiled a memorial at Bletchley Park in July 2011. Since then a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £4.6m has allowed the rebuilding of Colossus and restoration of many wartime huts. This month, a new film ‘The Imitation Game’ has been released about Alan Turing and Enigma.

As Time Passes By: Reg Baker
Early Times – Part 3a (part i) – Cold Callers and Other Visitors

Most readers will be familiar with cold callers, having faced them and suffered their many vicissitudes either on the doorstep, or falling prey to nuisance callers by telephone or other modern means. However during the 1930’s, household phones were few and far between, only the fortunate having either sole access to a line or to a shared line, the latter often giving rise to irritation or friction between subscribers; electronic mail existing, at best, in the realms of fantasy, comics and science fiction. Cold callers were thereby often obliged to resort to personal appearance on the doorstep. The modus operandi in those times was virtually identical to that of today. Having gained the attention of a member of a household, the caller would then embark upon a spiel aimed to assure his ‘victim’ that the purpose of his call was perfectly legitimate, and not to sell any product or ‘service’; following which came long persuasive rhetoric, albeit in an oblique manner, to do just that!

In the period leading up to World War 2, examples of cold callers would be gypsies, sometimes referred to as tinkers, and salesmen for insurance or household goods, especially that of brushes. Gypsies would be trading mainly wooden ‘dolly’ cloths pegs and sprigs of heather for good luck. If the householder crossed the gypsy’s palm with silver then the transaction was sealed with a blessing for good luck. If, on the other hand the householder declined to make a purchase, the result was not quite so favourable.

Returning to salesmen, one classic example would be the promotion of vacuum cleaners, and as Wales was the home of ‘Hoover’, would most probably have been one of their models, especially the iconic Hoover Junior. By way of demonstration the salesman would alarm the housewife by deliberately spilling, probably specially prepared, dust, fluff, and ashes onto her treasured carpet, and then proceeded, hopefully, to convince the lady of the house how easy and efficient it was to clear up and dispose of the mess; encouraging the watcher to purchase the product and benefit from marvels of modern technology.. This scenario, being vulnerable to mishap, rapidly became the butt of many comedy sketches in music halls, pantomimes, film and radio. The term ‘Hoover’ for decades became the generic term for all cleaners of this type and make, together with associated activities.

Seasonal visitors and callers included colourful characters in the form of onion sellers and . . .
to be continued

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