January 2014


   David Cameron’s Big Society envisages an army of volunteers willing to champion every good cause and take power away from politicians and give it to people. Maybe small businesses can be established as social enterprises, co-operatives, mutuals or charities to undertake local programmes for the benefit of society but encouraging people to take an active role in their community belies the fact that we’re already doing it.

I’m sure that, like me, you all belong to several local groups who are desperate to find new blood for their committees – and many of you will have reluctantly accepted a position of responsibility. These may not be the organisations that contribute to the local economy as the Big Society envisages, but the likes of Probus or Bowls or Theatre are essential elements of the local community and deserve our participation.

So where did it start for me? The children’s school and scout group always needed a coat of paint or a fund-raising exercise. We seemed to be always organising jumble sales – what hard work – raffles, fairs, quiz nights and the like. It hasn’t stopped, but now it’s for our residents’ association or friends group or Probus – and how I love pitching those gazebos! – we’ve got three in the cellar with all the accoutrement from hot water dispensers to paper mugs.

And why couldn’t I say no to: Chair of School Governors, Chair Debating Society, Chair Probus [Italics: recently stepped down], Treasurer East Coulsdon Residents’ Association, Treasurer Friends of Farthing Downs, President Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society and, of course, my most recent acquisition – Newsletter Editor for Probus.

IMG_5017We were delighted that the Reverend Malcolm Newman was able to join us again this year. Unfortunately, due to a fall, his arm was in a sling and so he had to speak from memory. Malcolm’s talk was entitled “Parliament and the Strange Laws of England”. We started with Harold elected by the Witan, his victory over the Norwegians at Stamford Bridge and his death against the Normans at Battle (Hastings) ten days later. 1265 saw Simon de

Montfort’s Parliament opposing the supremacy of the King. But the dictatorship of the King ended with the Civil War in 1649. Our history lesson then proceeded via the Reform Acts (1832, 1867), the (Secret) Ballot Act 1870 and the Parliament Act 1913 limiting the Lords to three successive attempts to oppose a Commons Bill.

220px-Oliver_Cromwell_by_Samuel_CooperMalcolm next gave us an insight in to the history and workings of the Palace of Westminster (Parliament) – designed by Barry in 1836 after the boiler blew up the old one (succeeding where Guy Fawkes had failed), now employing 3200 people and having separate Commons and Lords bars. Under the clock tower (Big Ben) is the House of Commons Gaol – last used in 1917 when the Harwich West MP refused to apologise to the Speaker. We learnt about the roles of the Monarch, Black Rod and why the door is slammed in his face, the history of the Commons’ Sword Lines, the purposes of the three readings of each Bill, the whipping system and the Royal Assent which can still be refused on the grounds of ‘great damage’. The last monarch to do this was Queen Anne in 1707.

Following the story of a shout of “Neil” across the lobby in 1983 to attract the attention of Neil Kinnock (the then Labour leader) provoking 25 American tourists to kneel, Malcolm treated us to a whole array of strange Acts of Parliament which have never been repealed. Kicking Westminster Bridge (15 years hard labour in the colonies) – 1839: no taxi driver to leave his cab while on duty – postage stamp upside down (treason) – 1731: don’t talk to or feed creatures in the Royal Parks (death penalty) – no Scottish garb in the city of York (firing squad) – flying the Jolly Roger on the Thames (piracy) – press gang laws – don’t forget to practise your long bow each day on the village green – Cromwell banned Christmas cards, snowmen and mince pies (not repealed) – 1839 Met Police Act: not allowed (including the police) to work on Christmas Eve – and many more.

Malcolm was given a rousing applause and we look forward to seeing him again next year.


Today   Barbara Turner tells us of her experiences as a Games Maker at London 2012 Olympics.

February 6th: Michael Corrigan tells of Felons and their fingerprints.

March 6th: Reg Baker talks about his Chairman’s Charity Club News


At last, a Vice Chairman – we’re very pleased that Gerrard Thompson(Gerry) has kindly agreed to step into the breach. He’s an experienced chairman from his South African Probus days.

We were delighted to welcome back Alan Horwell. It was suggested that Alan attends with his carer – “no way” he said “Probus is a gentlemen’s club”. I’m sure other members will continue to bring him to meetings.

Alfred Levy was not able to attend as he is caring for his wife. Ken Carter fell down the stairs backwards. Not being able to drive, his wife brings him to meetings. We hope he recovers soon and we look forward to his return. Both Roger Udall and Don Wilkinson had hospital appointments and were unable to attend. We hope to see them in the near future. Peter Babler has had (another) fall and is somewhat under the weather. We hope he can make it next month.  Roger Davis had a nasty fall just before Christmas which left him in a lot of discomfort over the holiday.

Norman Cockcroft has found attending Probus very difficult recently and is unable to continue. He has joined a local Parkinson’s group where he feels more comfortable. We wish him all the best for the future.

Чайковский (Tchaikovsky) Gala Saturday 10th May 2014
Our Chairman, Reg Baker (020 8660 6662), has asked that I remind you to let him know (with cheque) by 31st January if you wish to come. The advance notice is because the Royal Albert Hall needs early payment in order to guarantee the seats which are currently reserved.

Donations to the Charity fund were £46. The raffle raised £55 to go to Rev. Malcolm Newman’s charity, the Samaritans.

Grumpy (Andrew K. – 01737 554055) reminds you to let him know if you can’t attend – otherwise he’ll charge you the full amount for non-attendance.

The Committee wished members and their families a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year

My Coin Collection by Ian Payne

As you can see from my editorial, I’m somewhat of a busy bee and that excludes the grandchildren. Nevertheless, I’ve found a bit of time in the last few weeks for my English Coin Collection and to update my catalogue – last updated in January 2011.

I started collecting at the age of ten – first just pennies and halfpennies then one of every coin in circulation of every year. Shopkeepers still wonder to this day why I check my change so carefully – well, there are still rarities to be found even in decimal coinage. Collecting pre-decimal coins spanning reigns from Victoria to the present was more fun. The size of the penny had remained constant since these were still in circulation. The very old pennies were very thin and the image very worn but one day the milkman, who knew about my collection, gave me an 1885 ‘old head’ penny in very fine condition. Other friends and relatives also contributed from time to time.

Housing the collection has always been important. Before decimalisation there were special folders available for each denomination but generally since 1971, I’ve had to invent my own storage. Without a good presentation and labelling, visitors can often lose interest – many of them are probably not interested in the first place. As for my sons, it was always “Oh no, not the coins again!”

toppicThe oldest coin in my collection is from Constantine’s reign. It’s a follis, minted in Rome 314-315 ad. The inscription says IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG short for Imperator Constantinus Pius Felix Augustus [Emperor Constantine: Pious, Happy and August (majestic)]. I found it in an old piano that we obtained for nothing and were repairing – replacing missing straps and hammers – for the boys to learn on. It’s part of my collection because it was legal tender in Provincia Britannia.

newpenceMy most valuable single coin (excluding special sets) is a 1983 2p with the words ‘NEW PENCE’. They used the previous year’s reverse on a few issues instead of the replacement ‘TWO PENCE’ – the latest catalogue gives it a value of £750. I’m not revealing whose coins I found it among for fear of a large claim.

twopenceUnfortunately in recent years, the Royal Mint has issued some commemorative coins in silver only which, in my opinion, ought to be medals and not legal tender coins with a value. Also, some years, the Mint issues a standard coin but only in a year set, without issuing any for circulation. Both these practices mean that my continuous coin collection is broken. I couldn’t break open a year set – that would be cheating.

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