June 2003


shapeimage_1-4Bill Brinkley dropped me a filler for the Newsletter, about matters of inevitability, tempus fugity and longevity in general. It appears he was standing on the 16th, when his golfing partner, drawing a deep sigh exclaimed that every three months was a bonus these days. Suspecting that it was something to do with the beating I was receiving, I sarcastically enquired whether he had had a big operation, or chemotherapy or something. “No”, he said, “I’ve just turned 86! “

It is truly remarkable how the recent extension of life expectancy has resulted in such fitness well past our biblical three-score years and ten, set at a time when very few actually achieved that great age. It was something to aim for then, not just another passing birthday as it is today and it was a matter of tremendous congratulation when one made it to the top.

What is even more remarkable is that these days we are still in full control of our faculties. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but that is what they are: exceptions. I read somewhere that as recently as 1951, the average life expectancy for a man was 41 years. This may have been foreshortened by the recent war, but probably not, since women had just the standard two extra years expected. Of course it was just an average, not a maximum, but all the same the equivalent figures today are more than thirty years older. It could have been the healthy food we learned to eat from those war-basic rationing days and have continued to enjoy. Certainly one wonders how the overly fat generation of youngsters of today will manage.

How has it affected society? Well, for a start Probus would be a bit thin on the ground. Various countries, our own included, would not be in a panic about how to fund old age pensions; the NHS would be a lot better off, too. On the other hand, by having us around and in a state of fitness, the world is a better, wiser place to live in.

… and forgetfulness.

We all have name tags in Probus and those wearing them upside down do so in case they forget their own names and need a quick reminder. But name-forgetting is just the first step, to be followed by forgetting faces, then forgetting to do up one’s zip, and finally forgetting to undo it when nature calls.


shapeimage_2-4At our May meeting Mike Carrigan told us about his time in Swaziland, officially teaching them about fingerprints and other forensic methods of identification, and then how he was in no hurry to return home because he found it all so fascinating, so he spent time getting to know the country.

“How very unlike the home life of our own dear Queen.” This thought is brought to mind by his telling us about the Swazi royal family, that when the old king appears to be dying, or even just might die of something as simple as a head cold, some ninety current princes of the royal blood get straight into their Mercedes cars and head up into the hills and out of the country, for it is ordained that only a prince absent from Swaziland can be chosen as the next monarch. Why? one wonders. Mnety? Sons? Oh, yes. Daughters? Lots, but they aren’t counted. Ninety(ish) wives, too. And he has time to run the country as well? The present king succeeded while still a 16 year old student at Sherborne School in Dorset.

There’s more to Swaziland than just a surfeit of royals: it is the gambling centre of southern Africa, this being an illegal pursuit in the RSA where the money is. Then there was the time when Swaziland was the arsenal for the ANC but after Mandela took over nobody could remember where all the arms had been hidden. Now there’s a trick the IRA might pull.

Don’t ever run over a cow. If you kill it you will have deprived the owner of the equivalent of half a wife, since she is valued at two cows. I wonder if there is a black market price for the prettier ones? [There was an official bride price in Mgeria fifly years ago, where I am told that the girls from the Rivers Province attracted twice the official figure of £9.-Ed. ] Quite a price, anyway, since the average income in Swaziland for a worker is £3 per week.

It takes a man like Mike to put over a fact-full talk in a manner that had us both laughing and serious by turns but all the time focusing our attention on what told us. No script, and basically he did it without benefit of slides, too. They were there but suffered a mixing up by being dropped, so when he did show them at the end, they just confirmed the mental pictures formed in our minds by Mike’s enthusiasm and his ability verbally to describe the tale he had to tell.



Lt.Col. Colin Fairclough spent more than 40 years as an officer in the Salvation Army, half of it with the Army’s family tracing service, during which time more than 70,000 people were successfully found and reunited with their families. Here’s how.

July 3rd:

Traidcraft and why it is necessary. Revd. George Young will tell us how and why we should help the Third World.

August 7th:

Kate Holdsworthy, a local Vet., tells us of her life looking after the health of our pets.

Club News

It would appear that Golf is back on our menu and an excellent thing too. Just because we have a somewhat high average age doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy sport such as golf and – still to be resurrected – bowls. The golf has been brought about by our joining with Purley Probus Club and, with another shared team, Sanderstead & Purley Oaks, plus Reigate and Caterham fielding a whole team each, which will make up the four necessary for a round of tournaments at local Courses.

Three matches have been scheduled:

Tuesday, June 17th:

at Coulsdon Court G

Thursday, August 21st:

at Reigate heath

Thursday, September 18:

Provisional date, venue possibly High Elms

Bill Brinkley will keep interested members informed of the details. There are Outings galore plamled over the next few summerish months too, thanks to Stan Rogers efforts and organisation.

Stan has adopted a transport system with which I thoroughly agree: Avoid hiring a coach whenever possible and either use public transport or shared cars instead. This allows so much more latitude to visits in the matter of not having to wait for (or panicking that one is missing) the coach out or home. It also allows one to miss a trip at the last moment without incurring payment for the empty coach seat and the cost, even by train, is no more than hiring a coach.

So, here’s what’s on offer:

Amberley: July 16th:

Industrial Museum. It is suggested you catch the 10 a.m. train from Coulsdon South and via a change at Horsham, arrive at Amberley 11.22 a.m.

Cost: Rail fare (bring your Freedom Pass): £11.00 return.

Or: If you have Rail Card + Freedom Pass: £7.25

Admission to Museum: For us Seniors: £5.20

Dorking: August 21st:

Denbies’ Wine Estate. Suggestion is that you travel by car and meet at Denbies’ at around 11 a.m.

Stan has leaflets with details of what there is to see (and taste – very good). He needs to know for sure if you are going, he has to tell Denbies’.

Cost: Suggested dual ticket, payable on arrival: £9.25 for our age group

Southend: September 28th:

via SS Waverley

But First: Friday June 27th Blue Anchor, Tadworth. A three-mile ramble in the Walton-on-the-Heath area for Members, Friends, Wives, Neighbours, everyone welcome. Not too hilly; wear stout shoes or walking boots. Start rambling at 10.30 a.m., or just arrive for lunch at around 12.30 in the pub.

New Vocabulary

The Washington Post holds a yearly contest in which readers are asked to submit alternative meanings to various words. The following list, supplied by Brian Blakeney, quotes some recent winners:


A person who is coughed upon.


Appalled over how much weight you have gained.


To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.


To attempt an explanation while drunk.




A condition in which you answer the door in your nightie


To walk with a lisp.


An olive-flavoured mouthwash.


Vehicle used to collect you after accident with a steamroller.


A rapidly receding hairline.


A humorous question in an exam paper.


The formal, dignified demeanour assumed by a proctologist* immediately before he examines you.


A Jamaican proctologist.


One who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.


The opening in the front of boxer shorts.


The belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.

*Well, your Editor didn’t know, so he looked it up in Webster’s US Dictionary:

“A medical practitioner specialising in the anus, rectum and sigmoid colon.”

Following Mike Carrigan’s excellent talk on Swaziland and by absurd coincidence the recent story about the New York Times journalist (called Blair – heh! heh!) who covered stories from the 49 States by staying at home and using the Internet and TV reports, Jim Mulvey adds a story from the Swozi Observer:

Radio Swaziland’s Iraq war reporter broadcast apparently ‘eye-witness’ accounts of the fighting by watching TV from a broom closet in the Swazi capital Mbabane. “We are in a state of shock”, declared the radio station’s spokesman. “We all thought he was in Baghdad watching the bombs falling. We even agreed to pay for his flak jacket and a WW II gas mask he said he had bought in Baghdad market. “

Produced and edited monthly by Ian Scales (01737 553704)
for The Coulsdon Probus Club.
Edition No 78.

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