February 2022

January 6th Lunch was cancelled due to the fast spreading of the Omicron version of Covid. We are pleased to be able to resume our monthly lunches this February.

The sad news was given in January’s newsletter of the passing away of Derek Bass and Peter Wilson. Derek’s cremation service was held in January attended by family. A Service to celebrate Derek’s Life, will be held at St John’s Church, Old Coulsdon, once the family in Switzerland are happier to travel. Peter’s funeral was held on 27th January and several of our members attended. A eulogy follows. We are sad to hear that Jean Carter (Ken’s widow) passed away in December.

Please notify lunch changes by 10.30am the prior Tuesday to secretary@coulsdonprobus.co.uk
Please notify Member News to Almoner, Andrew Kellard.

Please email vincent@fosdike.com with articles/news for the Newsletter

Peter James Wilson 1931 – 2021
Eulogy given by Peter’s grandson Ryan 

Peter was born in Warlingham where he lived for the whole of his life. He was the elder brother to Derek, Jean, Ann and Brenda. Peter’s schooling mainly took place during the war years and was often only part time. He left school at the age of 14, working as a vehicle mechanic until he was 18.

He then started compulsory National Service as a wireless operator with the Royal Signals. On completion of his National Service, he worked with his Father and Uncle in the family Furniture Removal business in Warlingham.  He went on to try various occupations before finally joining Croydon Fire Brigade where he enjoyed the camaraderie and friendship, both at work and socially, of his fellow firemen and he remained there until retirement. He was a member of the local Village Club and that is where he met June. After courting for 8 years, they were married at St Mary’s Church in Farleigh and enjoyed 59 happy years together.

Peter had been saving since starting work to buy a motorbike and eventually became the proud owner of a 500cc Matchless single, which he later replaced with an AJS 600cc twin. Peter and June covered thousands of miles touring, both in the UK and Europe, together with June’s sister Shirley and her boyfriend. Peter, June and Shirley have been the best of friends throughout their lives, sharing many interests and offering support and companionship through the good times and the tough times.    

On the arrival of his children, firstly Anita and then Stephen, Peter bought a Bedford van which he converted for camping. The family had great adventures in the “Van” and holidays were either spent touring around the UK and Europe or canal boating. 

Once retired he occupied himself assisting in the running of the local Boys Club, joining the Mudlarks Walking Group and becoming a member of Coulsdon Probus Club where he made some good friends. Peter and June loved going to jazz concerts and in Peter’s opinion Aker Bilk was the best clarinettist of all time.  He was a real family person enjoying the interests and activities of his children, encouraging them in whatever they wanted to do and was always willing to ferry Anita, Steve and their friends whenever they needed a lift. When Anita and Steve married, Peter welcomed their partners, Paul and Maxine* into the family. Peter was a wonderful grandad to Ryan, Lewis, Emily and Zack and was always interested in anything they did. In his later years Peter, June and Shirley spent most of their weekends standing on the side-line come rain or shine, supporting Emily and Zack in their football and Ryan and Lewis in their hockey. 

[*Maxine is Dennis Evans’ daughter]

Peter could turn his hand to anything and always either had a tool in his ‘infamous garage’ or words of advice to solve a problem. Family, friends and neighbours all knew Peter would be willing to give them his time and help.

Although suffering health issues, he never complained and just got on with life living it to the full.

We will miss Peter so much but count ourselves very fortunate to have had him in our lives for so many wonderful years.

Anyone for cards? by Vincent Fosdike

I suppose we all are, like it or not. In our house we seem to get about 60 Christmas cards which at second class rate would be £40 of stamps without the cost of the cards. So we can guess our outlay in reciprocating at perhaps £100, about four Probus lunches! Which gives the greater pleasure? 

These cards have a chequered history with the first known Christmas card which still exists being sent by Michael Maier to king James in 1611. Probably it was a bit of an investment rather than pure affection. Things really took off in the mid- Victorian era when Henry Cole assistant to Sir Rowland Hill of Post Office and Penny Black fame sent one of the early cards to his grandmother. This also still exists and fetched £20,000 when auctioned in Devises in 2001. Could we have suspected that these would soon became nice little earners for the Post Office?  Perhaps just a happy co-incidence like the inadvertent development of the “Post-it Note”.

Why has the card not been wholly supplanted by the electronic, instant pre-arranged list, which could even be put into an automatic dispatch system which we could forget entirely, just as the rich in the Middle Ages left trusts for prayers to be said for their souls both during life and after death. Of course we don’t know if these worked. If we did use auto-send cards today, I can’t help thinking that they might automatically be junked on arrival leaving neither party any the wiser!

There is a sort of halfway house in the form of accompanying “newsletters” placed with the card. We give limited attention to these where past experience has shown that they tend to chronicle the brilliance of children many of whom we have never met. They seem almost like an advertisement to buy shares in the family rather than warm hearted greetings to the recipient. I’ve never seen one that says little Johny has failed his GCSEs and Jane has chucked her place at Cambridge to go sprout harvesting. 

Then there are the perfectly sincere cards with brief handwritten messages but lacking a signature or just giving a first name. We have had a few of both types. The ‘first name only’ variety often have a very common name which is of no help in deciding who they are. Sometimes a post mark may do it, but these are now only by sorting centres which can cover very large areas. This leads us to frantically check our dispatch list at least to ensure we have not neglected anyone but does not solve the mystery, and our address book index is by surnames, so it is a slow trawl.

I recently heard of an experiment in America, where it is common to write the senders address on the envelope – a card is sent by the recipient to the sender giving a false name and return address on the back. This elicited a further return card in well over half the false dispatches. Not only did a reply come back but in future years the innocent victim continued to send cards for many years to a person they had never met! An extension to the experiment was done by picking “victims” at random from phone book addresses and sending stratified status cards. Some claimed to be from doctors and lawyers and others from less august persons. Christmas cards were received in response but those in reply to the fictious professional people continued to get cards back for more years into the future. 

This indicates the areas of stress that underly the custom and certainly indicates the way our social structure works. A name left off a list can mark the end of a long-term relationship or just a mis-written post code. What assumption should we make. There is more to a Christmas card than meets the eye.

Happy new year.    

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