November 2017

Club News

At October’s meeting, Chairman, Gerry Thompson, welcomed back Arthur Truncheon and Alan Green. Later in the month we heard that Tony Simpson had a stroke. Fortuntely he was back home within a few days, with his family taking turns to stay to settle him in and welcome the various therapists and assessors and physios booked in to call.  He is doing very well, sounds in good spirits and currently has a slight weakness in his left leg. There were five birthdays in October. Alan Green reported that speakers are booked to May 2018. A Quiz entry form (16th November) was on every chair – it’s not too late to enter – see Ian. See page three for update from Ian Payne on the 2018 50th Anniversary clelbrations.33 members were present last month, The charity collection (Chairman’s Chairty this year: Salvation Army) raised £37. Having been prompted by the earlier committee, the Chairman thanked members for their generocity but suggested that members dig deeper into their pockets and perhaps raise the monthly contribution from £1 to £2. The raffle for the amenity fund raised £34.

If you, your partner or another member is unwell, please contact our almoner:, 01737 202243. Monthly meeting attendance, please contact Andrew Kellard on 01737 554055 by 10.30 am by the Tuesday.

Outings and Events

Ladies Lunch: 19th October – very much enjoyed by all – see page three.

American in Paris: Wed. 3rd January, Dominion Theatre + coach £44.25 p.p.

Contact: Please phone Jim on 01737 555974 or email
Quiz: Our annual quiz will be on 16th November – with fish and chip supper. Quizmaster Dennis Evans This is in support of our 50th Year Anniversary next year. Other probus clubs are sending teams, so it should be quite exciting.


Today: Neil Saddler: California Dreaming

December 7th: Christmas with Reverend Malcolm Newman

January 4th: Chris Chippendale:

February 1st: Jim Mulvey: Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital

Peter Jones: National Trust Properties of South East England

Peter has talked to us before about the National Trust and he reminded us of the three founders Octavia Hill, social reformer, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and Sir Robert Hunter of the Post Office who had recognised the need to preserve England’s heritage from its industrial past, its coastline and its country houses. The National Trust (NT) was registered as a not for profit company on 12th January 1895 and bought its first property, Alfreston Clergy House (a farm house) for £10 in 1896. In October, Peter took us through the NT properties of Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

Sussex: Peter mentioned twelve properties. I shall be selective.

Bateman’s – home of Rudyard Kipling, bequeathed by his widow.

Bodiam Castle – looks like one, but built as private home. The moat could be drained into the river. Kids can try on armour and shoot a longbow.

Lamb House, 1750 – home of Henry James.

Many properties in South England have glorious plantages, including Sheffield Park. Larger properties put on events – e.g. music and fireworks.

Severn Sisters SSSI – wonderful dawn view. Cliffs retreating up to 1m per year.

Petworth House – world-famous paintings, stunning Grindley Gibbons panels, Capability Brown landscape, kitchens, deer park etc.

Standen – family house, Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris interiors.

Surrey: Peter talked about ten properties, gardens and open spaces.

On the South Downs we have Box Hill and Leith Hill and in Guildford, moored barges on the River Wey. Nearby the Winkworth Arboretum.

Clandon Park – marble ceiling collapsed due to fire.

Hatchlands Park – Robert Adams features, collection of musical instruments.

Polesdon Lacy – grand regency house, parkland, royal house parties (of old).

Claremon Gardens – music on the terraces, Queen Victoria loved coming here.

Kent: another twelve properties.

White Cliffs of Dover and nearby the South Foreland Lighthouse – now redundant (GPS), first radio message sent to ship from here by Marconi.

Smallhythe Place – 15th century barn converted to a theatre.

Sissinghurst – Vita Sackville-West created the famous gardens.

Quebec House, Westerham was lived in by General Wolfe.

Chartwell – Sir Winston Churchill’s home gifted by friends who purchased it.

Knowle – Park / House, 365 rooms, tapestries and Louis XIV bed, deer park.

Peter told us about some of the acquisitions and who lived at each property. Many of the gardens suffered terribly in the storm of 1987, e.g. Emmets and Nymans. Of course, each property and garden has its own story to tell and there’s no substitute for visiting.

Editorial – Ian Payne

Ladies Lunch

Thank you to Jim for a very enjoyable lunch on 19th October. It was well attended, the food was of high quality and the singer, Debbie Jay, was much admired. I hear that the committee are thinking of bringing her back for our 50th Anniversary dinner next year.

50th Anniversary Year 2018

A committee meeting was held in October. Everything is progressing well and we’ve nearly spent all the Amenity Fund (as per instructions).

16th November 2017 at 7 pm: Our annual quiz – fish & chip supper, to support our 50th Anniversary events – £12 pp, contact Ian to enter (team or pair).

11th May 2018 at 7 pm: Celebration Dinner with Mayor of Croydon, special guests and entertainer. £35 per person. We will facilitate car sharing.

2nd August 2018: Open Meeting which will be our club’s 600th meeting.

17th October 2018: Celebration Lunch (3 courses) – Coach House Restaurant, Godstone. £5 reservation, otherwise free for members, wives and widows.

All outings and events in 2018 to be themed as part of our celebration year.

Colditz South Station – one size fits all

Network Rail’s plans for new footbridge (disabled access), demolition of taxi office, replacement bike shelters, relocation of waiting shelter at Coulsdon South Station

Why do all Network Rail’s footbridges have to have ‘stalag-like’ observation towers? At Coulsdon Town, the hideous view from the north spoils the approach to the town and hides the new attractive brick-worked entrance to the relief road. The obvious answer was to go down, not up – there is already a footbridge under the rail bridge which could have connected the two platforms.

While one appreciates the need for disabled access at Coulsdon South, why does it have to look like this? Perhaps, again, an underground solution may be possible which could perhaps give non-stepped access to Reddown Road.


‘Artificial Intelligence’ by Vincent Fosdike

I suppose we all wonder how it will affect our lives. There is no shortage of speculation from experts and journalists.

There seem to be two issues, the physical and the social. The projection of physical “progress” is fairly easy. Everything but everything can be done via sophisticated technology. I have tried to find an activity that has not been scheduled for intelligent automation, for example all forms of transport, domestic work including shopping and now surgery. I recently talked to a man who was told his operation (prostate removal) would be done robotically. He asked if he could “meet the surgeon”. He was shown the surgeon/robot and surprisingly did not feel there was any form of relationship! Did the encounter inspire confidence? No just a mild feeling of bemusement.

Well how did it go? Probably about seven out of ten as there was a bit of a post-op issue as a result of a slight imperfection in the robot governance system. But they are working on it so I’m sure this is comforting to him. Then against that, humans also make mistakes and so perhaps it was a somewhat average outcome.

Some Japanese care homes have robotic staff which are apparently well liked. They don’t get tired or bored and there is at least one hotel with no human staff!

My question is: What happens to Probus?

I imagine three future formats.

  1. We meet as usual but perhaps have robotic members of the committee if no members are willing to stand. To be known as partial automation, subject to manual override by membership voting.
  2. Those members who wish can send proxy robots who would of course have to be perfect replicas and sport our beloved tie. A new rule might be needed specifying that members must reveal their status if asked. Try this one if in doubt (see closing paragraph).


  1. The meetings are done “on line” (also possibly) participated in by robots who can report to their “masters” at any convenient time. Lunch would be delivered by Drones.

Personally I much prefer the current status complete with un-programmed spontaneity and normal companionship, a good bar and a good hot lunch! However, a word of caution I have heard that trials may be under way so be careful who you sit next to.

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