May 2018

Business Meeting, 5th April 2018

Our new Chairman, Ian Payne, wecolmed the 29 members present plus our speaker Laurence Fisher. He was also pleased to announce that following the AGM, Roger Gourd volunteered as Vice Chairman and Andrew Jurenko as auditor. Alan Green has resigned as speaker secretary following progressive Parkinsons, however, Andrew Banfield has agreed to take over on a temporary basis. Members edorsed these appointments and also agreed to a further £200 for the Salvation Army (our previous chairman, GerryThompson’s charity). Ian’s charity for the year is the Retirement Centre,Old Coulsdon. Malcolm’s elevation means that we still have vacancies on the Committee including a replacement for Andrew Kellard as luncheon secretary. The Charity Collection raised £50.55 and the raffle £27.

The Almoner, Andrew Kellard reported that Gerry Thopson had fallen over running for a bus and broken his nose and that Ray Harris’s wife has died. Also absent were Alan Green, Arthur Trunchion (legs getting better), Hugh Roberts (cold and wife very ill) and Roger Davis (now walking on his own with two sticks). Dennis Evans reported a letter from Harry Cundell’sdaughter thanking us for a copy of the Newsletter.

The Committee will prepare a signature list in accordance with the new General Data Protection Regulations. Everyone will need to agree to the Club holding their personal details for club purposes only. Please contact our almoner, Andrew Kellard on 01737 554055, if you, your partner or another member is unwell. Andrew is also, very kindly (but reluctantly until a volunteer is found – very urgent) acting as luncheon secretary. Please notify by 10.30 am the prior Tuesday, if possible, if you can’t make the lunch.

We have just heard the sad news that Phil Munson has passed away. The funeral is on 10th May at 3 pm in the ‘Church of the Good Shepherd’,King’s Walk, (Shoreham Beach), Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex BN43 5LF.


Today: Dr Linda Makepeace: Poles Apart
June 7th: Peter Jones: A Year at Chartwell
July 5th: Richard Griffin: Protection Officer for the Royal FamilyAugust 2nd – Open Meeting: Mary Forlenza: Great Lovers


Laurence Fisher: Cane Hill Hospital, a Grand Tour of the Inside

Laurence’s interest is in derelict buildingswhen nature begins to take over. With his group of friends, Laurence goes into places without permission to capture pictures of decay. Most of the old psychiatric hospitals began to close as‘care in the community’ took over. Thegroup took photos of many old hospitals but Cane Hill was the master of them all.

Laurence’s talk was a guided tour of the inside of Cane Hill as it graduallydecayed over the period 1992 to 2013. At its height, it had 2216 beds and was two-tenths of a mile from side to side with a male side and a femaleside. All that’s left today is the water tower and the chapel. The administration block could have been saved but for a fire (one of many) two weeks before a planning meeting. Was the timing suspicious? They got in by digging a tunnel under a 121⁄2 foot fence which they then disguised.

Our tour continued showing dereliction, collapsed floors and staircases but also rooms just abandoned with patients files left as they were – also coffee cups, sugar pots, treatment lists at the end of beds, pyjamas, reading glasses and plates with cutlery ready. We saw the telephone exchange, stolen fireplaces, leylandii trees through the windows, the pharmacy with somemedication still in place and the dentist’s chair with a most extraordinary smell (we were told) in the dentistry.

In some corridors, brick had turned to mush and wood to cardboard. In the chapel (and what a chapel!), the roof was perfect but the pews had gone. Buddleias had moved into the kitchen and the main hall which was derelict. The huge laundry machines were in place – Laurence showed us a picture of himself and two friends inside a machine peering out through the round door widow. The asbestos clad pipes made it very dangerous and required face masks to be worn. In fact there was danger everywhere in the hospital.

Another dangerous pursuit was climbing up the water tower – the rungs had disappeared from one flight – but the view made it worth it. The corridors had skylights, some collapsed. The staff room had fauna and flora including ferns growing out of the linen. The bank had an old printer and sprocket- holed headed paper. Ivy helped hold in some windows. Recreation rooms had patients’ art – some very disturbing, knitting and sowing machines.

The architecture was as beautiful within as outside but bright pink or white/ green wallpaper was hanging down, floors collapsed with pools of absolutely still water. Other sights included mouldy mattresses, birthday cards, doors with broken glass, a slate-bed pool table on the 2nd floor with a grand piano beneath. Laurence finished by showing us some artefacts he’srescued – master keys, brick, light bulb and a fire precaution notice.


Editorial – Ian Payne

We are still short on Committee members and we urgently need a Luncheons secretary. Existing Committee members are also looking tostand down next year. Please don’t let our club fail for want of a few volunteers. As for myself, I’m currently Chairman, Newsletter Editor and Chairman of the 50th Year Anniversary Committee and, of course, likemany of us, I’m on the Committee of several other local groups. Thank youagain to Vincent for saving the day with yet another super, enigmatic article for the Newsletter. There’s nothing in reserve – have you got something?

50th Anniversary Year 2018

Celebration Dinner: 11th May 2018 at 6.30 for 7 pm at the Coulsdon Manor Hotel: with the Mayor of Croydon, special guests, reception drink, entertainer and free raffle. We have a final total of 93 guests including groups from six other Probus clubs. Congratulations to Jim on organising what will be a superb event. If you need a lift please let us know and we will make it happen.

Old Coulsdon Fair: 7th July 2018: Andrew Banfield and Ian Payne are planning our stall. In addition to the usual Coulsdon Probus banners, we will have a photographic display of what we do and lots of brochures to give away.

600th Meeting: 2nd August 2018: This will be our annual Open Meetingwith guest speaker to tell us about ‘Great Lovers’.

Celebration Lunch: 17th October 2018: Coach House Restaurant, The Green, Godstone RH9 8DT – there is adequate parking at the Coach House Hotel and elsewhere in the village. Meal: 3 top courses, free for members plus partner or friend and widows (reservation £5 pp). Menu choices will be available August or September. Please car-share if needed.


‘The Usual Sir ?’ by Vincent Fosdike

Do you remember Douglas Adams book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to theGalaxy”, in which there is a reference to “The Cafe at the end of the Universe”?

Well in my little world the equivalent cafe in my local Planetary system of cafes is just ten earth minutes away in arthritis override on a good day. I find it always has a live show well worth the price of a coffee. Perhaps you would care to join me in a brief view of some of the regulars. Seated in my comfortable arm chair (other options are available) we await the arrival of the Dramatis Personae. I think Simone De Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre used to do this sort of thing in Paris to ease their creative processes. Our editor says they are not available so you’ll have to make do with my efforts.

Today we can speculate on one group and one individual group first. The leader always arrives about five to ten minutes before his two colleagues. He is tall well dressed for the cold weather in a long black coat and traditional black leather shoes. He carries something in the nature of a brief case from which he takes a clip board. He will dominate his group with a flow of confidently delivered information read with the aid of heavily framed spectacles and lenses of noticeable power. The voice is strong and emerges from a jaw screened by a neat demi-beard. Names, figures, dates melded with mildly sarcastic comments flow steadily to his colleagues whilst the regular order of drinks is brought to the table. The two other members of the group seem only to be bringers of information when required. When all is safely gathered in, decisions are handed down to the lesser men in black and duly noted. Then it is time to relax. This highly efficient meeting settles to its coffee and, about as long as it takes for it to be drunk and note books put away, three men in black rise as one and exit the building. Rapid efficient procedures have been followed. So what was it about? Perhaps building speculators as viewed in another cafe, local police officers, maybe even salesmen of medical equipment. No, the clue is in the words of the old hymn, “all is safely gathered in”, and I always thought those people usually wore sandals and dispensed blessings!

As they leave, a lone figure aged about thirty with a slightly faded back pack, aged mobile phone, but a high end pair of trainers, walks purposefully to the counter and speaks brightly and briefly to Monsieur Le Patron. She takes a seat and soon receives her order. As the steam rises from the coffee she consults the mobile. No messages are ever sent or dispatched. Sometimes the screen elicits a faint transitory smile. But it does not hold her attention for long, even the steam is still rising when the phone is replaced by a notebook, surely the real reason she comes here as she does every day. What is hidden in the two middle pages marked and gripped by a blue rubber band? She reads these same two pages every day and never any other ones.

Her face belies no emotion only concentration. How many words are there, mostly in tight black script but with some in red ink? How many times in twenty minutes will she re-read them? Are they clues to an unsolved murder, a sonnet from a loved one, a holographic will of the type often written by service personnel such as air crew before a sortie? Maybe even the answer to “life the universe and everything”, but that is already known to be 42 according to Mr. Adams so it would not take up two pages, no it can’t be that.

Finally she shuts the book and in doing so shows the ring finger of her left hand. There is an engagement ring and a wedding ring. Both are nearly worn out and clearly not hers originally. Did they come with the book?

I know she will get up and walk decisively and briskly to the door but will be back to read again tomorrow.


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