“How beautifully blue the sky, the glass is rising very high”, as W S Gilbert wrote to Sir Arthur Sullivan’s music well over a hundred years ago, that is if my memory still serves some sixty years since I took part in several of their operettas.
I introduce this page with the above for two reasons: first to boast that I can still remember some things from the past and secondly because as I type this on Monday morning the sun really is shining from a clear sky, though by the time this evening comes, when I shall be at the Coulsdon Debating Society monthly meeting the forecast is for heavy, wet stuff on a strong wind, so back to what is becoming normal in this season.
We really are getting fierce weather for this part of the world, something to do with the high winds that circle the Earth which seem at present to be driving all the hard stuff across our part of Europe. It just ain’t normal. Other parts of the globe are sticking to their normal climate as I found out looking up Lagos in Nigeria yesterday: a week of heavy, continuous rain day and night as they carry through their six-month wet season, due to end in a few weeks when the Harmattan wind blows cool, very dry, sunny-but-hazy atmosphere down from the Sahara. The weather men in Lagos can use a calendar to predict their forecasts, with no need for clever machinery.
So much for weather, but my memory??? It gets worse as the days go by and is beginning to really annoy me. It’s as well that I am giving up trying to write this monthly newsletter and can turn to Ian Payne. Ian has already improved the output with his clever ways of introducing photos and the like, so if his memory starts to fail – perish the thought – he can come across the road to me to see if I can still help.
Ladies Luncheon 2013
Our annual Ladies Luncheon was once again held in the Blenheim suite at Coulsdon Manor Hotel. About 60 members and ladies attended and once again we had a high quality meal and wonderful service from the hotel staff.
Our 2013 Chairman, Reg Baker, welcomed all to the Ladies Luncheon, our foremost annual occasion where the wives can meet old friends and make new ones. Reg also welcomed the wives of former members who are always welcome at all our social events.
In a departure from previous years, we had an entertainer. Amanda Goldthorpe-Hall told us about her singing career where she originally trained for opera at the Royal Academy of Music, but then fell in love with the music of West End theatre where she has performed many rôles. It was a fascinating story illustrated with songs. She started with ‘Oh my beloved father’ by Puccini, and then songs from a variety of shows. Her son Edward (available due to a teachers’ strike) operated the sound equipment. It was superb entertainment. Amanda still performs and is also a renowned singing teacher.
Andrew Banfield proposed the toast to the ladies and the reply was given by Lorna Blakeney, Brian’s wife. Our Chairman, Reg Baker gave the toast to Coulsdon Probus and outlined the events of the year. He then thanked the committee and all those with special responsibilities – secretary, treasurer, lunches, transport, outings, web-master, speakers and almoner and especially Jim Mulvey for his excellent organisation of this Ladies Luncheon.
But who had been left out? Reg proceeded to the dais
and called on Ian Scales (was he asleep? – no, not possible) to step forward for a special award to commemorate his two hundredth edition of the Newsletter. Ian was presented with a certificate and a specially inscribed decanter. Reg also thanked Ian Payne for volunteering to take over the Newsletter from January.
The afternoon concluded with ticket prizes and raffles for the table posies. A very enjoyable afternoon.
We had another excellent speaker last month with an excellent subject, the History and Humour of Fleet Street, told to us by Peter Durrantwho has spent 69 years associated with the Press and writing about it since then. Covering the period from the start of the 18th century to the 1980s, he told us of the many well-known names associated, the building of St. Bride’s church and such, before telling us joking tales of the past. Wonderful.
Today Ian Currie, our local weatherman. Great subject by a great expert.
December 5th:Rev. Malcolm Newman: Welcome back as always and this time about the strange laws of England.
January 2nd:Barbara Turner tells us of her experiences as a Game Maker at London 2012
February 6th:Michael Corrigan tells us of Felons & Fingerprints.
We regret to tell you that Roger Bennett died on October 9th of a heart attack. Sadly we were not advised of his funeral date and arrangements in time to attend. Our sympathies go to his family.
Alan Horwell has been spending recovery time with his son in Cornwall, following his ‘leaky heart’ troubles. We trust he is recovering well. We welcome our new member Malcolm Guest to the Club. We have no outings to report this month, but don’t forget Dennis Evans is organising a Quiz on November 14th. starting at 7 p.m., at the Old Coulsdon Centre as usual. These are always worthy of attending, so make a note in your diary. The cost for members and their guests is £3 per head which includes tea, coffee, soft drinks and biscuits. Bring your own alcohol if you wish. Jim Mulvey has updated the Tradesmen’s List: well worth getting a copy from him. It’s all on the updated website.
Our Club is dithering around the fifty members point again; why can’t we get more members? Other Probus Clubs even have a waiting list. Tell your retired friends and neighbours and invite them along for a lunch.We are rapidly approaching our AGM and still have nobody lined up to take over as Chairman then. A volunteer, please, to act as Vice C now!
Sixty Years Ago
By Roger Brunton
Or to be more precise sixty-one years ago, my Dad received a letter from HQ64 Group RAF informing that his son had been selected to undergo a course of flying training at the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club, seeking his consent. In the early post-war years The Air Force still needed large numbers of pilots and had set up a scheme to train some members of the cadet forces to private pilots’ licence standard. In anticipation of an increased demand for their services, the YAC had acquired a couple of very second-hand de Havilland Tiger Moths for what, even in those far-off days, was the modest sum of £30 each. Designed only thirty years after the Wright brothers first flight, the Tiger Moth was typical of its era, a biplane made of wood, fabric and wire and with open cockpits; it was regarded as a superb trainer and many thousands were built.
I had already got my place at university sorted out, so the course seemed a very pleasant way of filling the next few weeks and in mid August I began a series of lessons, usually up to forty five minutes in duration, involving basic flying techniques and in particular how to get down onto the ground again in one piece. Finally, on the 14th of September the great day came when my flying instructor climbed out of the front cockpit and said “You are ready to go” and I was off on my first solo circuit. All went well and I made a competent if slightly bumpy landing, but then panic set in for I was convinced I would hit something on the ground as I taxied back. The Tiger has no forward visibility whatsoever and has to be taxied in a zigzag fashion, not helped by the fact that it has no brakes and has to be turned by blipping the throttle to get adequate airflow over the rudder.
From then on things moved apace, lots more circuits and serious stuff like landing with a dead engine, or recovering from a stall or spin (always done from a very considerable height), but sometimes there was the blissful ‘general flying practice’ which simply meant taking the aircraft up for an hour or so and going wherever you fancied, navigating by following known roads or railways. Then two cross-country flights, taking the primitive navigational equipment to its extreme. So the exercise was carried out by setting a compass course adjusted for the anticipated wind speed and direction, plus a good deal of map reading..
These done, the Chief Flying Instructor signed off my log book and within a couple of weeks I received the coveted Private Pilot’s Licence (Flying Machines) which I still cherish to this day.