March 2020

Business Meeting 6th February 2020

Chairman, Roger Gourd, reported the sad death of our member Brian Thomas on 2nd February. A short silence was observed and sincere condolences offered to his wife Nancy. 25 members were present and our speaker Nick Cook.

Brian Thomas

Brian was a family man, hugely practical and competent with many hobbies and interests – DIY, carpentry, car mechanics, decorating (up a high ladder not so long ago), gardening, French, renaissance and medieval music (played clarinet). All used to support his family and grandchildren. Brian was a senior Civil Servant, did his National Service in Hong Kong, married Nancy in 1956 – they enjoyed travelling particularly after retirement. Brian was an enthusiastic supporter of Coulsdon Probus which he joined in 2005. Brian died of blood cancer and kidney failure after a long period of dialysis. We send our best wishes to Nancy, Paul and Alan and their families.

Almoner, Andrew Kellard, reported on our Companion Members, Lionel Downton, Roger Davies and Tony Simpson – also Hugh Roberts (bone trouble). Gerry Thompson (broken tibia) is out of hospital and we hope to see him soon.

Items from the Committee

  1. Motion from Committee on subsidising outings: Carried 20 for, 5 against. The motion seeks to define when it is appropriate for outings to be subsidised from the Amenity Fund. See minutes of meeting for full details.
  2. All fees (annual, lunches) unchanged. The accounts are currently stable.
  3. Committee wishes to support a Ladies Lunch (Ian Payne to run) and Quiz (Ian Payne and Dennis Evans to run) this year.
  4. Chairman’s Charity: MacMillan Cancer Support raised £1074.

Luncheons: Please notify Andrew Kellard by 10.30 am the prior Tuesday if you are not able to attend. Also, if you, your partner or another member is unwell please contact Andrew (as Almoner) on 01737 554055.

Outings: Planned for June 18th – coach outing. More details soon from Andrew Banfield. 24 members (plus partners) showed an interest at this stage.

Membership: Reg Baker will issue a revised membership list after the AGM.


Today – Dennis Greenslade: Rallying for Macmillan ()
April 2nd – George Wildridge: London, Stranger Than Fiction
May 7th – Linda Duffield: Kenley (Aerodrome) Revival

Nick Cook: ‘Health and Safety Gone Mad’

Our On the 6th of February our guest speaker was Nick Cook, a former Health and Safety inspector. He outlined some of the recent headline issues which had surprised many of us when they appeared to needlessly challenge activities we had always thought of as quite acceptable and harmless. 

Probably the best example has been the “problem of conkers”, the age-old playground game with its various rituals and customs. I guess we have all enjoyed the pastime and the debates over whether the victor can inherit the score of the destroyed conker, whether certain types of hits, strings and hardening methods were allowable, (an excellent training ground for litigation lawyers. ed.)

Well a headmaster no doubt concerned about his duty of care arranged for goggles to be worn when indulging in this activity. This started a cascade of anxiety, children must not climb trees to seek conkers, indeed such trees themselves should be felled. Despite our former P.M. saying there was something seriously wrong with the spirit of H&S the genie got out of the bottle! Imaginations ran wild and marbles and leapfrog were thrown into the mix! These incidents tend to give the H&S people a bad image as perhaps a little petty although the above was not directly of their making.

On a more serious level we heard about the $2.7 million award made to a lady burnt by a take-away coffee. As always this was not quite what it seems. The facts actually related to a spillage of coffee over her legs with long term skin damage. Interestingly the temperature was said to be 15 degrees above the market average. Not quite as we probably imagined!

Going into history we learnt of the changing nature of a typical industrial disease, silicosis, a lung disease caused by the accumulation of silica particles in the airways. Cave dwellers knapped flint to make tools but probably did not get the levels of silica dust sufficient to kill them so perhaps Health and Safety would have allowed limited work bearing in mind they probably worked outside the cave entrance.

Times change and by the time of the musket being used on a large scale the flint makers suffered a severe life shortening respiratory illness known as Knapper’s Rot. This affected 75% of the work force – there was no H&S executive then. Things reached a peak in the Sheffield steel industry when two thirds of the grinding workers died before the age of thirty at one point in history. 

Current industrial threats occur in the manufacture of “stone washed jeans” and over use of “sitting jobs”.

In the latter part of his presentation Nick focused on the universal threat of Global warming which is a theme in itself! 

Thank you Nick.

Bar Room Reminiscences – 6: Air Training Corps

As a lad, with my father’s help and encouragement, I got into building and flying model aircraft, so it was probably inevitable when I went to secondary school that I would join the Air Training Corps Squadron based at the school. Along with the badly fitting uniforms, there was more drill involved than one would have liked, but there were compensations such as air experience flights, gliding and ‘22 rifle’ shooting in the range in the school roof until it was banned after some idiot put a shot through the ceiling below. There were also summer camps at RAF stations. Some events from a week at RAF Ternhill in Staffordshire come to mind in particular. We had not been there more than a day or two before the station’s RSM (or RAF equivalent), decided he was not too impressed by our drill around the station. He had us out on his drill square, sorted us in height order and proceeded to march us up and down until he was satisfied or probably could stand it no longer.

It was the era of the cold war and we were given a lecture about atomic radiation, Geiger counters etcetera. Our lecturer, an NCO based at the station, took a radioactive metallic sample out of his trouser pocket and placed it by the Geiger counter he was demonstrating to us – the machine went berserk. He did not put the sample back in his pocket. We took part in ‘303 rifle’ shooting practice at the station’s butts one day – I swear my ears have never been the same since. I fire left handed which puts the ears a bit too close to the breech on a normal right handed bolt action rifle. My mate Jim had to remove his spectacles so as not to risk them being damaged during the recoil – this was not good. There was concern that Jim’s target remained pristine, then someone noticed puffs of pulverised masonry from high up on the safety brick wall behind the targets every time he fired his rifle.

Some of us got to see Stoke City play at home on the Saturday afternoon. Others got hopelessly lost on an orientation exercise in the Staffordshire countryside. My highlight was an air experience flight in a piston engine Provost Trainer. If you ever see one these days, it will most likely be in a museum. Happy days.

Annual General Meeting Agenda 5th March 2020

  1. Chairman’s Charity. Talk by Dennis Greenslade. Presentation of cheque.
  2. Minutes of previous AGM 7th March 2019 and Matters Arising.
  3. Treasurer’s Report,
  4. Chairman’s Report,
  5. Secretary’s Report.
  6. Election of Committee and Officers. Nominations, including self-nominations, for the following posts: Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Luncheon Secretary, Speakers Secretary, Outings Secretary, Almoner, Membership Secretary, Committee Member, Newsletter Editor, Webmaster, Auditor. Election by show of hands.
  7. Installation of new Chairman.
  8. Presentation to Past Chairman.
  9. Chairman announces his Charity for the year.

(Scams Galore): Don’t let your anxiety make you an easy victim

Mike Southwell known to us all for his sterling work in handling our finances has kindly allowed me to pass on some warnings re scams which may be tried upon us. The list can’t be exhaustive, and neither can any suggested countermeasures. But it may just save you some grief if it alerts you at a vulnerable moment. So here we go.

  1. The fake call from your bank, local police or other apparently reputable sources. This uses anxiety creating false information to get you to reveal passwords, pins etc etc. We know genuine callers will never ask for your security information. So probably best just to hang up. If you want to check the source, don’t use the line they called you on, as they often have control of it to further the fake. Other defences of course include an actual visit to your bank if practical. If in doubt don’t follow their lead, it pays to be cynical. I have discovered that impersonating the HMRC is common with the bait being that they want to give you a tax repayment!  They even use a temporary phone number that is only one digit different and displayed on a phoney but convincing website (also short lived). 
  2. Would you believe a message by phone or e-mail that comes wholly out of the blue telling you of an inheritance with the proviso that you pay costs up front? No? Neither would I.
  3. Calls claiming that they have detected “suspicious activity” on your computer and seeming to act as your guardian angel are probably very ironic! The suspicious activity is FROM THEM!   They probably seek your unwitting permission to install malware on your computer for their very evil purposes especially if you bank online!
  4. The tempting invitation to participate in solving a fraud by transferring some of your funds to a plausible bank address is of course only an invitation to assist the caller in their plan to commit a fraud ON YOU! 
  5. Perhaps less common is the suggestion that you consider moving your pension fund. Of course, this must be left to a very well established independent financial advisor not a casual interloper probably “on the make” with hyped up deals and possibly a wholly fraudulent identity to go with their fraudulent bank transfer address.
  6. Even highly formalised transactions such as the sale of property handled by your regular professionals and instigated by yourself, can be HIGH-JACKED, BY SENDING YOU FAKE NOTICES OF CHANGED BANK ACCOUNT NUMBERS. You may well lose a huge amount of capital and have NO REDRESS in many instances. My own solicitors on all correspondence always say that their details have not changed.
  7. If you rent out a property what is to stop your tenants selling it by masquerading as you? By the time you find out they will be gone and so will your money! The Inland Revenue warned me of this growing scam and suggested I place a notice on the land register warning potential buyers to contact the owner at his home address. It is quick and easy to do and you get a copy of the updated L.R. Entry.

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