May 2014


_71502906_union-like-(2)In September the Coulsdon Debating Society will debate ‘England will be better off without Scotland’. I thought it might be interesting to ponder nomenclature pending Scottish independence.

The terms ‘British Isles’ and ‘Great Britain’ (‘Great’  to distinguish it from ‘Lesser Britain’ being Brittany) are purely geographical – but what about ‘United Kingdom’. Personally, I would be delighted to live in England again – I get annoyed every time a drop-down menu forces me to give my address as ‘Coulsdon, UK’ – but what about Wales and N.I.?

_71518678_flaginstitute_unitedbritain(3)How about the United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland? But the UK is the union of England and Scotland, not Wales and N.I. which are a principality and province respectively. No doubt we would remove St. Andrew’s cross from the flag and find space for a Welsh dragon, but would it be the ‘Union Flag’? Best answers will be printed in the next issue. Also, what do we call the British Overseas Territories and should they belong equally to England and Scotland?

April Guest Speaker: Harry the Wheelbarrow Man

DSC_0195Harry Townsend had been assistant curator at Kew Gardens and a keen rugby player and coach but his life was shattered when he lost his wife to melanoma. In 2004 Harry decided to walk the 800 miles from one end of the North Island of New Zealand to the other with a wheelbarrow named George, collecting donations for the fight against melanoma [book: Harry the Wheelbarrow Man]. Harry was supported along the way by Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs and rugby clubs. Harry chose New Zealand because it has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world. He’s also climbed Kilimanjaro, trekked the Grand Canyon, walked the Pilgrim Trail to Santiago de Compostela [book: The Slowest Pilgrim] and continues relentlessly to raise funds for melanoma (

IMGHarry’s talk was an entertaining and humorous travelogue from Wellington through many charming and quaint towns and villages up to the tip of North Island. Harry and George were welcomed everywhere, met local dignitaries and entered people’s hearts wherever they went. Highlights included painted walls (if you’ve got a spare wall, put a mural on it), designer toilets, ostrich farm, swimming with guppies, the Waipu Highland Games, the welly boot capital of the world, the chainsaw capital of the world and finishing at the 90 mile beach at Cape Reinga.

Club News

The April newsletter reported the sad loss of Peter Babler whom we remembered at the start of our meeting. An obituary will be published in the ‘ECRA Review’ and on

Our new chairman, Gerrard Thompson (Gerry) confidently steered us through his first meeting. 35 members present plus speaker. £38.84 was collected for the Chairman’s Charity and £32 from the amenity raffle.

We were pleased to welcome back Peter Mills and Laurie Painting after illness. Ken Carter is not quite ready to return. Please advise news of members to almoner, tel: 01737 202243. Please remember to let Andrew Kellard know if you can’t attend a meeting (01737 554055).

Reg Baker distributed the updated membership list. Please let him know of any changes.

Outings and Events

Tchaikovsky Gala, 10th May. One ticket left. Coach leaves Tudor Rose 4.30 pm. Concert tickets allotted on the coach. Reg Baker (020 8660 6662).

Cruise Wey/Arun Canal, 20th May. Peter Coombes* (07941 234945).

Ashdown Forest Coach Tour Thursday 12th June: £41. Plus country house tour, lunch/teas. We need more takers. Contact Jim Mulvey (01737 555974).

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

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Thursday 10th July: full.

Last Night of the Proms, Fairfield Halls, 27th September: £18 tickets available (usually £20) from Hugh Roberts (tel: 01737 202243).

Ladies Lunch, Thursday 16th October at Coulsdon Manor: Diarise

Coulsdon Probus Quiz, Thursday 20th November evening: Diarise

Today:Pamela Goodall: Cycling around the world

June 5th:Dr Ron Cox: How the railways altered Britain

July 3rd:Bob Ogley: Biggin on the bump

August 7th:Talk by a Chelsea Pensioner to commemorate start of WW1

As Time Passes Byby Reg Baker

Part I – Early Times

By no means an original title; however the writer has adopted this theme as it is almost immediately recognisable as setting a backcloth to what follows. Some members may even be sufficiently interested to speculatively browse through their own memories and perhaps find comparative or opposing situations. Having passed so far along the path of life’s travail and strife, it becomes almost natural to reminisce over times past and inevitably draw comparisons between events then and corresponding current day situations, and set these down in a series of articles. Some of the comparisons will show hardly any changes with time, whilst others will bear no relation whatever to each other, indicating a quantum change with time. Some changes will be welcomed, others giving rise to regret. The main objective is to subjectively appraise comparisons, not on a regional, national, or even wider basis, but rather as they affected my family, neighbours, local establishments and other local community activities.

Foremost amongst my earliest childhood memories are those of roaming and exploring the local countryside, streams, woods and landmarks with my young sister, during long, hot, seemingly endless summer days under cloudless skies. No doubt this recollection may have become somewhat embellished with time, but needs to be compared with descriptions of summers now being described as ‘two fine days and a thunderstorm’! (climate change?). In hindsight, a significant factor of these rambles was that of complete freedom to explore on our own without an adult or fear of coming to any harm or distress; a complete contradiction to corresponding situations these days (Our parents had none of today’s child safety concerns; of the connotations, anxieties, or stress, where today’s parents warn their offspring as how to best avoid the hazards and risks that exist today;. In addition they are very fearful of them using social networks). In fact we had little or no worries apart from ‘what’s for tea mum’.

Despite quite difficult times arising from the continuing 1920’s depression, dole queues, shortage of jobs and resulting general shortage of money there was always food on the table albeit simple fare – breakfast cereal, bread and jam, a slice of cake (home baked of course!) and cup of tea; or Welsh rarebit (sometimes spoken of as Welsh rabbit ) known today as cheese-on-toast. Or there could be a bowl of soup, again homemade, by boiling up lamb or beef bones (from earlier meals or purchased quite cheaply from the local butcher) with vegetables (from the garden) and any other leftovers. Nothing was wasted!  These days food wastage has become a major national concern running into millions of tons each year.  Take-a-ways as we know them today did not exist – except for the good old fish and chips (always on a Friday) which have survived the tribulations of war, depressions, boom and bust economies; but have never really tasted the same since they stopped being served in newspaper!; and also hot faggotts and peas in a gravy sauce, where a member of the family could pop around to the local shop with a household jug, into which the required number of portions were added.

On late reflection, the writer believes that it was monetary restraints upon availability combined with household economies that unwittingly bestowed, upon those of my generation, an invaluable lifetime benefit, but more about this another time.

to be continued . . .

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