March 2014


Station 3The Coulsdon Bourne flows again. Here it is below the down platform at Coulsdon South Station and a little further along some gardens in Reddown Road are two feet under. We used to believe that the Bourne rising foretold disaster but its now frequent appearances are not Coulsdon delimited but portend worldwide cataclysm as global warming takes hold.

droppedImageIn Purley, the Caterham Bourne has caused the closure of the A22 between Purley and Whyteleafe. Firemen and Council workers have been desperate to protect the Kenley Water Works and to reduce the level of the balancing pond at Purley Oaks. Excess water has been pumped into the Tesco underpass at Purley Cross. The diverted traffic has overloaded the road systems to the east of the Brighton Road and Old/East Coulsdon residents’ normal rat-runs through Hartley Down/Old Lodge Lane or Burcott Road/Higher Drive have become choked. We’ve been using the west side and navigating the Woodcote and Beddington environs to get to Purley and Croydon.

imagesNot so far away, the Wey and Mole have overflowed and at the other end of Surrey we sympathise with the plight of those in the Thames Valley. Further afield, the news has been full of the problems of the Somerset Levels and the damage to Brunel’s beautiful railway at Dawlish. This last is particularly poignant to us as our son was married there where his wife was raised and her mother and grandmother still live.

Returning to ‘global warming’, some of you will say ‘that’s not proven’ but let me just quote two facts: the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 0.03% as quoted in my school text book to 0.04% today; arctic temperatures have risen 2°C since the 1970s, leading to a 40 per cent dip in the minimum summer ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean.

Michael Carrigan, Felons and their fingerprints

Michael was never a policeman but he trained at Scotland Yard as a fingerprint expert and then in forensics. He worked in Johannesburg and Swaziland before returning to England.

Fingerprints consist of lines, ridges and furrows and are on the hands and feet of humans and apes but no other animals. Apparently, apes developed ridges to improve touch and to enable them to grip wet branches. In 1905 Scotland Yard started a file and search method – prior to then there had been no systematic method of searching fingerprints. There are six patterns and ten digits and a formula for ordering them. Searches can be very fast but a partial one-finger print is difficult and requires a computer search of critical points.

Of course the criminal world didn’t like fingerprints and that included Alphonse Capone of Chicago prohibition fame. Capone always gave a false name but his fingerprints gave him away, so in 1928 he employed a plastic surgeon to remove them – they looked like the surface of the moon with no detail at all. There was a snag, however, he was the only man in the world without fingerprints. The plastic surgeon was never seen again – did he end up encased in concrete at the bottom of a lake? But as evidenced by photographs Capone’s fingerprints grew back within five years because the surgeon had only scraped the skin and not the bone.

Inking the fingers actually inks the ridges which can then be transferred to paper as a fingerprint. The nervous criminal’s sweat pores are on the ridges and not the furrows and it is the sweat that transfers to the glass he touches. Brush on fine powder (aluminium), shake off excess and lift off with a sticky tape. It looks like a bicycle chain because the sweat breaks up the ridges. The white line across the image is a crease which didn’t get inked.

Michael told us the story of Declan O’Sullivan a burglar from age 16 to 63. He was fine until he finally got caught and had his fingerprints taken and then all his 113 past misdemeanours caught up with him. He used to take trips from London to towns in the home counties – burgle along one side of the track, then burgle back to the station on the other. He hid his swag in a local graveyard and went back for it the following day. He was arrested again and again. In 1968 the judge called him a ‘blot on the escutcheon of humanity’ and every policeman diarised the date of his release. You’ll never guess how he died – crossing the railway at High Wycombe.


IMG_5279Today:AGM: Reg Baker talks about his Chairman’s Charity and will present a cheque. All posts fall vacant: current holders are (some reluctantly) willing to stand again if necessary.

April 3rd:Harry the Wheelbarrow Man by Harry Townsend

May 1st:Pamela Goodall: Cycling around the world

Annual Open Meeting – Partners welcome

Club News

February: 37 members plus speaker; Chairman’s charity £40.12; amenity raffle £35.00. Please remember to let Andrew K. know if you can’t attend a meeting (01737 554055).

Speakers: booked to December – Chelsea Pensioner in August (WWI).

Transport: Please contact Graham Fox to volunteer as a PACE driver.

Membership: 48 – please approach friends especially the younger ones.

Financial: Members to confirm at AGM increase in annual subscription to £30 (previously £20); lunches no change at £15 but to automatically rise in line with sports club charges. Reserves have fallen by £400.

Peter Babler is short of breath and energy and can’t walk very far.
Alan Horwell has heart trouble. He has a 24 hour live-in carer. Alan would welcome visitors – as would all our absent members.

Alfred Levy continues to have to care for his wife.

Peter Mills epileptic attacks are getting progressively more frequent.
He is under the care of Shirley Oaks hospital.

Don Wilkinson was welcomed back – he belies his 95 years.

Ken Carter is also with us again.

Outings and Events

Soroptimist Inter-Club Supper 13th March 2014 ‘Celebrating Women’s Achievements’ – £29. Contact / 020 8668 2681

Tchaikovsky Gala, RAH 10th May 2014. May have to be cancelled or converted to ‘own travel’ due to low numbers. Reg Baker (020 8660 6662).

Ashdown Forest Coach Tour Thursday 12th June: £41. Jim Mulvey

Old Coulsdon Fair, Saturday 5th July: Support Probus stall. Jim Mulvey

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Thursday 10th July: coach-meal-theatre. £62.50 (cheaper than the tickets alone). Jim Mulvey (01737 555974)

Coulsdon Probus Quiz, Thursday 20th November evening:

Unusual Questions from our November Quiz

by Dennis Evans

The December Newsletter reported on and announced the winners of our annual quiz on 14th November. Here are a few of the unusual questions.

1.From what is the name of the area of London called Soho derived? A = a hunting cry when hunting hare. If hunting stags you would cry tally-ho.

2.From what did the pop-group “Spandau Ballet” get their name? A = the twitching of Nazi war criminals feet as they were hung in Spandau prison.

3.What song from the film “The Bodyguard” and sang by Whitney Houston is the most requested tune at British funerals? A = “I will always love you”.

4.What Olympic sport did Mao Zedong declare the national sport of China?

A = table tennis (pinpang qiu) from 1988. This was a diplomatic breakthrough: it improved relations between the USA and China.

5.William 1st Prince of Orange had what type of food grown as a tribute?

A = orange carrots (carrots were normally originally white or purple).

6.In what country did the terms “Left Wing & Right Wing” for political parties originate? A = France. (In Louis XVI court there were three Estates:

1st Estate the Catholic Clergy; 2nd Nobility; 3rd Bourgeoisie / Peasants.

At a meeting of the Estates General in 1789, the year of the French Revolution, Louis XVI sat in the middle, having the Nobility on his right and the Bourgeoisie on his left.)

7.How many bodies of British soldiers who died in the First World War were exhumed in 1920 before a final unknown soldier was selected to be placed in Westminster Abbey? A = four. (One body of a British soldier was taken from each of four battlefields, Somme / Ypres / Marne / Passchendaele. A blindfolded army officer was asked to point at one of them, that one being taken from France for burial in Westminster Abbey.)

8.What common breakfast food was invented and produced after the Siege of Vienna to celebrate the defeat of the Ottomans? A = crescent-shaped croissants. (The Syrian Rebels banned the production of croissants recently, as they considered it an insult to Islam.)

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