June 2012


What a wonderful weekend!

   With the exception of the wet weather that caused a problem, the last four days thanking HM the Queen for her sixty glorious years of leading our country have been an eye-opener: how can an 86-year-old spend so much time thanking us for thanking her, spending up to six hours on her feet, smiling as she meant it?

   Most Probeans will have memories of the Coronation in 1953, squinting at it on a 9-inch television set; can it be that we have members who actually went up to London to see it in 3D?  Your Editor recalls it because he had just got engaged to his sweetheart, marrying her some two months later, so it was a happy time for him, too.

But who could have expected  that, sixty years later we would be thanking her for her continuous service to the nation?  The millions who have turned out in London and the more tens of millions who have watched it all over the world, know that we are blessed with her service to us, keeping the twelve Prime Ministers she has had so far in touch with reality, telling them what happened last time they did something as ridiculous as they are now intending.

That is the superb advantage we have over nations that elect their Heads every four years or whatever: continuity and experience.  She is above politics, she can make sense of the continuous changes that time brings and do it in a way that offends nobody.  Let us hope that she has educated her successor in a way that will satisfy us just as much.

   In all of this she has been supported by Prince Philip and it is sad that he is suffering from ill health right now.  ‘Phil the Greek’, we called him long ago, but he has proved our implication wrong.

Elizabeth the Second?  No, Elizabeth the Glorious, who rules over Great Britain, the Commonwealth and, would that they could they arrange it, much of the World.  God save our Gracious Queen.


   One of the pleasures of Probus meetings is when we get a real professional speaker to give us some insight into a business that automatically interests us, simply because it reminds us of our childhood or indeed our own wishes that we had done something similar.

   One such occasion, arranged as always by Phil Munson who was still recovering from his fall at home, was at our Ladies’ meeting in May last month when we welcomed Jack Devlin, a leading magician and indeed President of the Magic Circle, presiding over some 1,450 magician members.  You don’t get to be President without being able to justify your abilities to ‘do’ magic by deceiving the eyes of the beholders and Jack has done that to an enormous public over the years, at the Palladium and on TV amongst many other places.  He has travelled the world showing his brilliance with tricks, but never revealing just how they are done.

   How do you become a member of the Magic Circle?  Jack started an interest in ‘tricks’ (his word for them) while still a schoolboy during the War with such as (he demonstrated) the coin in the bottle, knotting handkerchiefs and the anti-gravity spoon, but they don’t justify membership: that only comes after a hard exam before three judges and thirty or forty other magician members.  That’s just the start of Membership, with a Higher Examination  much later to become a Member of the Inner Magic Circle.

   A sense of humour goes with his act, vividly shown at our meeting when he persuaded our Chairman Ian Payne to wear a saucepan on his head and then got Ian’s wife Pauline to do the same.

   Excellent entertainment at a rather special meeting with the ladies present.


Today:   We were to have had a talk on the Titanic by David Brown, but sadly David has injured his back and cannot come.  In his place we have

Alan Barwick      to give us a talk on Henfield.

July 5th:       Explore the Internet with Jim Mulvey, our Webmaster.

August 16th:      Bob Ogley reminds us of Doodlebugs & Rockets.

September 6th:  Glenda Law tells us of the Florida Everglades.

Club News

   Could it be our strange bout of weather mucking about from winter to summer to winter again, that has caused what appears to be an abundance of illness amongst our members?  Every other email seems to tell us of someone else who will not be able to attend our meeting today.

   Alan Horwell was taken ill and sent to Mayday by ambulance, where a stent was inserted close to his heart to open up a blocked artery.  He is now at home recovering.

   Andrew Kellard is being looked after by Marsden with prostate troubles and seems to be going on well under the care of beautiful nurses.

   Dudley Coates will not be coming today due to his ulcer problems.

   Peter Babler’s wife Marguerite’s illness will cause him, too, to miss today’s meeting.

   Your Editor spent a day and a night in Mayday (Croydon University hospital – daft name since there is no university in Croydon, unless the old Poly has been upgraded from ‘college) following an operation on his bladder; sounds just like the trouble the Duke of Edinburgh is currently in hospital for.  I am a lot better now, though, fingers crossed.

   Jim Mulvey’s Theatre Group’s wonderful evening to see Top Hat on June 21st. is now fully booked up, so you’ve missed you chance there.

   It may seem a long time ahead, but the is also the Ladies’ Lunch ahead, too, on October 18th, when we make a fuss about them.  This will be held at Coulsdon Manor Hotel, 12.30 for 1.00 pm.  Judging by the excellence of last month’s meeting when they were present, the October extra meeting is well worth attending, so fill in the form Jim sent you, along with your cheque for £27 per person.

   While on the subject of Jim’ activities, though not strictly Probus matters, Jim will be giving a talk on Coulsdon history at the Old Coulsdon Centre at 2.15 pm on June 15th; his display of photographs dating back up to a hundred years are excellent, so it should be well worth anyone whose interest in local history needs more information.  Anyone can attend.  Donations to the Centre will be welcomed.

   Two days after our next meeting, on July 9th, will be the best local fair of the lot:  Old Coulsdon Fair in Grange Park, when our Club will again have its stand, this year with an additional tombola which needs us to supply winning presents, so if you have a suitable item at home that you don’t need any more, let Jim have it in time.  Even if you don’t have anything, come to the fair anyhow and enjoy an afternoon’s outing.

The last Diamond Jubilee

It was 1897 and Queen Victoria had reigned for 60 years so the nation celebrated a date that had they had never known in the history of England.  Even the little farming village of Old Coulsdon held a party, though it seems Squire Byron was away, probably in Norway for the salmon fishing in June.  The several hundred villagers turned to Walter Stride, an international business man as well as a local Parish Councillor and Churchwarden who lived in The Grange next to St. John’s Church.  His front garden stretched out across what is now Canon’s Hill and covered the whole of Grange Park as we know it today.  You can still see the track of his curved drive across the Park when there has been dry weather and the grass has turned brown.

   Mr. Stride called on the local wives to make the cakes for the children and sent out invitations to a party for each and every one.  The afternoon must have stood out in their memories.

   So much for the children of Old Coulsdon, but what of the rest?  Well, up to that time Coulsdon Parish had covered a much bigger area than now, then including Kenley and Purley, so it was no doubt the Rector of St. John’s that organised a tea and sports programme on the Kenley cricket ground for young and old.  There were tea and sports, a parade by the Church Lads’ Brigade, bonfires and fireworks, especially welcomed, no doubt, by the children who had the day off and didn’t have to face the several miles walk to and from the only school in the Parish on Bradmore Green.

   A Chestnut tree was planted outside the school on Tollers Lane in memory of the Jubilee and is still there; so is the memorial plaque in St. John’s Church.

… But now?

   The inhabitants from 115 years ago would barely believe how their tiny village has changed: not the few hundred inhabitants of then, nor the sight of children walking miles to the only school; 25,000 inhabitants spread over the old farm fields, pubs up the hill, buses to Croydon, running water and shops there, too.

   There are street parties galore, but garden parties on the steeper roads;  St.John’s Church in Old Coulsdon is showing – live on a large screen – the Queen’s service from St. Paul’s on the Tuesday and there will be a giant picnic once again for everyone in Grange Park.  The Mayor of Croydon will be planting an oak tree to match the chestnut tree put there for Victoria.

   Remembering her Coronation, let us hope that Her Majesty’s attraction for wet weather  holds off.

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