June 2011


shapeimage_1Reg Baker  tells me his ankle is healing well; he is getting round much easier now and indeed he hopes to be present at this meeting.

We have missed Roger Davies recently, owing to his wife’s illness, but Lawrence Painting is recovering after his operation, so let’s hope they will soon be back with us.

Chairman Andrew Banfield says his Mystery Tour on August 9th is attracting many and we shall meet the coach at the Tudor Rose at 9.00 a.m.  He has organised a great day out at a time of the year when our holidaying grandchildren can be invited to come along.  Lunch will be a feature to fill their little tummies (and ours, of course).  Proceeds will be sent to our charity for the year, the Royal Marsden Cancer hospital.

shapeimage_2In the matter of paying for such outings, we have some £200 left after our Lotteries grant for us to use how we like for members.

Jim Mulvey reminds us of the Ladies’ Luncheon, that we should be sure to book our places before August 31st.  Yes, the luncheon is not until October 20th, but booking the numbers is needed well before that by the Coulsdon Manor hotel.

Our Club’s early history is to be discussed at today’s meeting, with our first Chairman being honoured in a manner that will be explained by Dennis Evans.  He told me about it – or some of what he will tell today – on the phone the other day and I can’t remember it all. Now, thanks to a bunch of thieving copper stealers I am without telephone or email connection for the next few days.  I can see BT working to replace the copper on Farthing Downs as I write, but in the meanwhile Dennis and others I would have liked to contact for Club news are beyond getatability. (The word doesn’t exist, according to Microsoft, but you know what I mean).

One other historical matter arose at our May luncheon: the matter of our annual subscription.  It has been £10 for the last 43 years, so we were either too embarrassed to charge less then or we should consider raising it to something more in line with present costs, as our meals have in recent months.  Should it be £10 still, or £15 or even £20?

That’s it for this month.  Damn all copper thieves.


shapeimage_3Helene Gillard came to tell us about the SSAFA, not the Soldiers, Sailors & Air Forces Association, but the Soldiers, Sailors & Airforce Families Association.  It was started as the Soldiers & Sailors Association in 1885, long before there was an airforce to bother about, but soon the Association, guided by the then-Princess Alexandra of Wales, took upon itself to include assistance to forces’ families, scattered wherever the men were serving the Empire; their services were first called on in Egypt.

Their first nurses, called the Alexandra Nurses, served in Ireland in 1892. An appeal in 1899 raised £1.2 million (about £33 million now) allowed them to open hospitals in Devonport and Portsmouth for sailors, together with a relief fund for their families.  This was needed in 1915 when an outbreak of measles here meant families wanting relief.  It was 1919 when ‘Families’ was added to the name, needed most for demobbed servicemen’s folk since the men could not get work in the depression then.

With World War II on the horizon, in 1938 an emergency plan was started for thousands of families of newly-called up servicemen.  During the war the SSAFA was stretched by bombed-out families and a children’s home was set up in Cheshire, later joined by eleven more across the country, one of which was struck by a doodlebug.

In 1956 families in the Suez area were evacuated and in 1982 over two hundred families were brought home from the Falkland Islands.

These days, families are largely looked after by Government, but the SSAFA still does its bit for Forces families, with advice and assistance to any of the ten million-or-so needing to be helped, especially those of the bereaved; they have some 500 salaried case workers along with 800 volunteers;  they own a residential care home in the Isle of Wight and the Royal Home in Wimbledon is run by them for the Officers’ ladies.

In short, a proud history for the SSAFA which is based on compassion, given to us by an excellent historian.

shapeimage_5Today;David Brown on Concorde

July 7th:Peter Jones takes us on A Walk on the Wild Side

August 4th:Glenda Law tells us about Street Furniture, something

which raises hackles with many folk.

September 1st: Barbara Stevens gives light unto us chaps, telling us of

                          Journalism after the menopause.

A puzzle

By Dennis Evans

Complete the following short story by filling in the missing words denoted by ???.  ALL the answers are musical instruments; NO instrument is repeated.  Twenty instruments are hidden.  Offer answers to Dennis.

On a sunny day in Spring Joe and his wife Mary set sail from a town in    ???    on a ship of the     ???    line.

They were welcomed aboard by the Bosun’s     ??? .  The noise was enough to deafen their ear     ??? .

They followed the    ???    on the direction signs to find their cabin which was lovely: on the dressing table was a vase of purple    ???    and daffodils with large ??? .

“This is much better than the    ???    we stayed in last night” said Joe, “there is even a    ???    toothpaste in the bathroom.”

Mary changed into a    ???     pleated skirt and they both went to the bar for cocktails.  “I’m so dry that if I don’t get a     ???     I shall die of thirst, in fact make that a     ???     “, Joe said to the barman.

Joe decided to sit on a high stool, but Mary having short legs thought she would    ???     one.  Joe lit his     ???    . “It is a pity there isn’t a smoking ???”    said Mary, “if there was you might save some money.”  “Oh, Mary”, said Joe, “please don’t     ???    on about me smoking; come on, I’ll buy you an ice cream.”

“OK” said Mary,  “I think I’ll have a     ???.”     “I’m going to have a wafer” said Joe.

As they sat on the balcony that night sipping Champagne from crystal     ???, Mary said ”    ???     would have enjoyed this trip, I bet.”  “Yes she would ” said Joe.

Then the    ???     sounded and they went into dinner.

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