July 2004


shapeimage_1-5We’re surrounded by people in our lives, not just folk we know well, but people whose lives touch us to a greater or lesser extent as we go about the business of living our day-to-day existence. That’s not a profound statement – from me? – but something that occurred to me when Bill Brinkley popped round with news about our ‘Artist of the Month’ this time: Samantha Reardon painted ‘Lilacs’, the picture on display (and for sale at £25) despite suffering from migraine problems and having to get around on leg calipers and sticks, or in her wheelchair. She is bright and lively and loves the art she can study with The Bramley Hill Art Club that Bill helps. They all went to the Daily Mail’s ‘Not the Turner Exhibition’ last week, described by Bill as a superb display of good figurative art by both professionals and amateurs. They can only afford these outings through charity donations and if it results in folk like Samantha having some extra joy in their lives, then it is well worth giving.

One of the joys of retirement for me is the extended facility it gives to meet new people, usually at times when in an earlier existence I would have been earning a living. There’s you lot in Probus, of course; some I knew before joining but others I would never have met while working. Then there are the continuous visits to the shops in Coulsdon, usually to pick up one or two items I had forgotten to buy, when I chat to folk I would never have spoken to before, often learning tricks to brightening my life. My self-imposed two-hour stints of church-watching on Tuesday mornings puts me in contact with pre-school children at the monthly pram service; there’s hope for the next generation, knowing these infants, even if one of them at least thinks I am God (“because you are always here”), but that duty is done on a weekday, available to me now that I am retired.

   We have a lot to be thankful for, especially if our health remains, perhaps only if we keep our health, but then consider Samantha the artist. Making the best of our life, that’s what counts.

   That all came out as a bit of a sermon. I didn’t mean it to, but writing it has put me in a serious mood and I stand by it all.


shapeimage_2-4Another of the self-inflicted duties that come my way is to make notes while our speaker is on his feet so that a reasonably accurate resume can be reported here. It doesn’t always work, as exemplified now about when Dave Leney came to tell us about his career with first BOAC and later replacement British Airways. My notes are scrappy, to be polite about them, such was the fascinating story he had to tell.

Starting with his being a pilot flying Argonauts, Britannias and VC 10s in the 1950s, Dave rose through the ranks to finish as a Captain of the BA Concorde and Flight Manager (Technical) for all their the Concordes. The silly thing is that he doesn’t look old enough for that time-span; I speak from personal experience in that he probably flew me back from and to Nigeria in the ‘fifties and I was certainly not old enough then for such responsibilities.

In 1976 he was given the chance to be involved in the then-new Concorde which introduced a whole new concept of long-distance flight, enabling one to arrive in New York before taking off in London; at least according to the local clocks. Six cabin crew had only 2 1/2 hours to prepare, serve and wash up a meal to one hundred passengers who had paid the earth for the flight and who would not expect to be fobbed off with a quick snack.

Many passengers were VIPs, others were VSIPs – Very Self-Important People and had to treated as such, with visits to the flight deck offered to as many as could be accommodated and personal visits from the Captain at their seats during the flight being considered their right.

There were moments, though that made it worth the trouble, such as curvaceous film stars having their attention drawn to the weather radar screen, conveniently close to the floor so they had to lean forward to view it… There was the racist suggestion by a Royal, that they should exceed the banned supersonic speed, but only over France. Flying Her Majesty to the Bahamas was an honour that came his way.

Dave was polite – just – about the decision to scrap Concorde. Like so many of us, he feels it was an unnecessary step to take. Concorde had proved to be a giant leap forward in civil aviation; it had proved to be safe and reliable and its removal satisfied only the moaners who objected to its affect on the environment such as pollution (doubtful) and noise (satisfying to many).

Dave’s stories were told clearly and with a splendid sense of humour. It was a shame that our numbers were well down on the usual, partly due to the very hot and humid weather as well as vacations being taken before school holidays, but those who did make it were amply rewarded by hearing an excellent speaker with many great tales to tell.


The Comedy of Life: Nick Thomas, a freelance comedy writer, defines the oddities of living.

August 5th:

Richard Ratcliffe – after we have eaten – gives us the low-down on food additives, E-numbers and all that. They’re good for you.

Club News

We regret to report that Alan Rose died last month. Alan, 74, and a widower these past seven years, lived alone and fell, breaking his leg and hitting his head. There had been several attempts to replace both his hips recently, too, something always going wrong with the operations. The combination of replacements, leg breakage and head injuries appears to have brought on a stroke severe enough that he died. Alan had been one of the first residents to move into Howard Road and remained there for the rest of his life, helping to bring up his son and two daughters to whom we extend our sympathies. He worked in the textile business for many years, later turning to the wine trade, originally a hobby, which earned his living and spread his name, since he frequently visited groups like ourselves to talk on the subject. The funeral was held at St. Andrew’s church last Friday, when our Chairman Bill Brinkley, along with others represented our Club.

We must also report the death of Alan Rayon May 9th. No other details known.

Bryan Chilton was absent in June in hospital, but is now recovering from an infection in his stomach. He doubts he shall be at this meeting but will certainly make the next, he tells me cheerfully.

Dieter Mervitz showed up with his arm in plaster, having (uniquely?) fallen up the stairs at home and broken his wrist.

Tom Chapple is fed up being housebound, having had his driving licence suspended for medical reasons. We wish him well. Could we organise lifts?

Reg Baker regretfully informed us that the cost of our monthly luncheon will go up by £1 to £11, starting today due to increased charges needing to be met.

On June 22nd., a day that started wet, a coach load of Probeans and their ladies set off to visit Arundel castle, Cathedral and town on an outing organised by Ken Carter. The coach driver dropped them by the Cathedral – saving old legs the climb up the hill – and some active praying while in there cleared the skies, allowing a good look round the castle and the town later. The main reason for choosing Corpus Christi as the date of our visit was to admire the wonderful Carpet of Flowers laid down the central aisle of the cathedral, though this produced a crowd that meant queueing to see it. No matter, it was worth it and it was just a pity that it was too late for our coach party when the Clergy held the Corpus Christi Mass (they walk on the flowers!) and then proceeded down to the Castle, flowers everywhere. Jean Carter told me all about it – Ken was walking the dog when I called – and I also learned that Jean was rushed to Moorfields hospital with a detached retina Monday last week, something that will take weeks of TLC from Ken to cure.

Our Informal Ladies Lunch will be held at the Ramblers’ Rest on July 22nd. Details at today’s meeting.

by Dennis Evans

In my profession before I retired I managed the Business Services Team for one of the largest International Logistics Companies. We trained the staff to use the mainframes, desktops, laptops, printers, etc. correctly and safely, as well as in the use of the software we had written for our business, plus, of course, instruction in the use of those other vital essentials of the modern office, E-mail and the Internet.

We produced an in-house manual given to all staff on the care of these vital tools, along with a list of DOs and DON’Ts; for example:


Remember and keep secure your passwords.

Keep laptops out of sight in the car, preferably in the boot.

Sign off/switch off before leaving for the day or lunch.

Keep your computer and peripherals clean; cleaning materials available.


Drink or eat at the computer terminal.

Download pornographic or dubious pictures or text. (A sackable offence.)

Use offensive language, or conduct personal affairs on E-mail.

Load any unlicensed software, games or images to any system.

It is a fact that in most offices and trades now, many staff sit at a computer terminal all day. They rely on it for their job but however hard we tried, they did not always remember our manual, so we circulated a sarcastic note to remind them:

When you call us to have your computer moved, be sure to leave it buried under half a ton of postcards, baby pictures, stuffed animals, dried flowers, bowling trophies and children’s art. We don’t have a life and we find it deeply moving to catch a glimpse of yours.

Don’t learn the proper name for anything technical. We know exactly what you mean by “my thingy blew up.”

When you lose your car keys, send an E-mail to the entire group. The staff in New York like to keep abreast of what’s going on.

When an IT person tells you he will be there shortly, reply in a scathing tone of voice “And just how many weeks do you mean by shortly?” That motivates us.

If the mouse cable keeps knocking down the framed picture of your dog, lift the computer and stuff the cable underneath it. Mouse cables were designed to have 20kg of computer sitting on top of them.

If the space bar on your keyboard doesn’t work, blame it on the mail upgrade. Keyboards are actually very happy with half a pound of muffin crumbs and nail clippings in them, and love a drink of coffee or Coke.

When you receive a 30Mb (huge) movie file, send it to everyone as a mail attachment. We’ve got lots of disk space on the mail server.

When you need to change the toner cartridge in a printer, remember that Hewlett-Packard recommends this be performed by a professional engineer with a master’s science degree.

Feel perfectly free to say “I don’t know nothing about that computer crap.” We don’t mind at all hearing our area of professional expertise referred to as crap.

The Annual Ladies’ Luncheon will be at Coulsdon Manor hotel on October 28th.

Produced and edited monthly by Ian Scales (01737 553704)
for The Coulsdon Probus Club.
Edition No 91.

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