October 2003


shapeimage_1-8I suppose I had always assumed that a ‘hobby’ and a ‘hobby horse’ were connected, but in my mind only loosely in the manner of being obsessive about something that mattered to me but to few others. So I looked it up and indeed I was right, one being the subject itself and the other defining one’s enthusiasm for the subject. But there is more: One’s hobby is indeed defined as a favourite amusement or occupation, but a hobby horse, quite apart from being a wickerwork figure of a horse used in morris dancing, can also be a lustful person, a prostitute, or at least it was in the 17th century. So be careful how you use the word.

Since retiring, I have done what I have always wanted to do, though carrying on with the necessities of life as well, such as helping around the house and garden. I thought I might like to try cooking strange meals as a new interest, but my wife couldn’t see the point and her culinary abilities leave no gaps in my tastes or tummy.

Then I bought a personal computer and rediscovered my ability to write. I’m not taLking Harry Potter books and Charles Dickens must have done nothing else to have been able to string together so many acres of words – hand-written too. No, just the pleasure of passing on my thoughts and knowledge through the printed page. to be published by anyone who asked. Six different booklets have gone to press, several articles for the Bourne Society and then most satisfyingly being put in charge of their History of Coulsdon. My team of writers included several who were better historians than I shall ever be but their copy needed extensive editing and this took up much of my time and efforts, but best of all, I was given several chapters to produce of my own. To have my name on the front cover has been gratifying in the extreme, as was the request from the Society of PuWishers for my details, so I am now a recorded ‘author’. No, please, don’t tug your forelock when we meet.

History itself has proved a fascinating subject and an excellent hobby in itself, covering as it does such a wide range of interests over such a long time. I can combine my pleasure in model railways with my love of old maps, two past and continuing joys that have helped keep me offthe streets over the years.

Retirement is too good for us oldsters; I’m loving it.


shapeimage_2-8It wasn’t as frightening as we thought it might be; no members were seen to be creeping out quietly after Norma Sweeting had told us what our handwriting hid. Some of us came to sneer but all stayed to cheer. “Graphology? Another aid to interviewers? Did it really grub out the secrets of our innermost ways?”

Well, yes, actually. Norma had us convinced after a truly interesting explanation of the things to look for in our handwriting. We were invited to use a piece of paper and to write a few lines in our usual handwriting; it turned out that even the way we used the paper – portrait (upright) or landscape (sideways) was significant. If the former it showed we liked a structured life, well ordered, landscape implied that we needed room to live. Was the margin down the left side wide or narrow? Were the lines straight (self-control) or wobbly (fairly organised, but flexible)? How about occasional wide gaps between words: these showed where you were not sure of the facts, or even were ‘spinning’ the truth. Regular spacing implied comfort in either a crowd or alone, close spacing showed you liked being with people best but wide gaps pointed to a wish to be alone.

We were shown samples of different handwriting and asked to identify if the writer was left- or right-handed, male or female, old or young. Easy, I thought, but got nearly all of them wrong. Why the differences, anyway? As 7-year-olds we were all taught to write up-and-down-and-round-to-the-line, but as we applied our skills to life our script matched our personality.

So much more, we learned from a woman who had spent years studying the art. Norma is regularly used by Companies sifting the wheat from the chaff when hiring new staff; even the police have asked her to specify suspects entirely from their handwriting.

An interesting subject by a splendid speaker. And revealing to all of us.



Pauline Payne of the Coulsdon New Millennium Projects tells us what they have in mind and calls on our support.

November 6th:

John Chisholm introduces us to England through the eyes of the writer A R Quinton. Something very much out of the ordinary.

December 4th:

It’s the Christmas Special again! Different, though, with James the Magician, one of England’s finest comedy magicians.

Drivers wanted

Ray Harris asks for volunteers to fill gaps in our driving rota, taking ladies to their Club, be it the Wednesday, Thursday or Friday meetings. Once a month, set a day aside to help them – and meet some lovely people. Four-door cars only and maybe room for a wheelchair in the boot. Call Ray on 020-8668 1205.

Club News

We welcome back Charles Hancock with or without crutches after his hip replacement.

Dieter Merbitz, on the other hand, will be absent today, in the care of softhanded nurses following a long-planned operation. We wish him good luck, though I am sure ‘good medicine’ would be closer to the truth. (My daughter, the [locally] famous actor, always refuses mentions of ‘good luck’ before going on stage. Some old Thespian juju; she accepts our wishes when we tell her to ‘break a leg’. Odd).

Harry Cundell has had a rotten month of pain following his hip replacement, but tells me he has been a lot better this past week. He is going for a check-up next week when they will tell him to do the Lourdes thing and throw away his crutches -he hopes. Meanwhile he finds it ‘tiring’ walking with one leg off the ground Me, I’d find it impossible. He and his good lady hope to be at the Ladies Luncheon.

The Good ship Waverley sailed without benefit of advice from a dozen or so Probeans last Sunday (how on earth did she find her way without sound counsel in the matter of port and starboard?). Reason was, there was work being done on the Thames Barrier and her departure time was advanced to 0815 hrs. On a Sunday? Their office was efficient and told everyone immediately, so they are rebooked for the coming Sunday instead. Bet there’s a gale…

Stan Rogers’s next arranged outing is to the Royal Engineers Museum of Military Engineering in Chatham on November 13th. The probable travel arrangements will be for all to meet at London Bridge station at the WHSmith’s shop and then to travel to Chatham by train, where there are taxis to get to the Museum. Stan will be contacting those involved to tidy up all this before the day. Coach hire is out of the question on economic grounds; the taxi will only cost a quid or so each.

By the time you read this, I may have been drummed out of the Bourne Society. Truly scraping the bottom of the barrel, they have asked me to speak at the Forum meeting this month, the subject being “My Coulsdon”. Already I have had a telephone call from a member who was born, bred and lived here all her life until recently, asking on what grounds I, as an incomer, considered it to be “mine”. I could only say that I did not choose the title and promised her I would start the talk by-rena~ning it “Our Coulsdon”.

Still, it is important that the town I have called home for over half of my lifetime should hit a headline. It is in the throes of vast change and unless a careful hand guides the alterations, we could end up with a completely different look, such as has happened to Purley. Fifty years ago, Purley was a place to shop, entertain in and name with pride as ‘home’. Look at it now: hardly a shop to buy in, impossible to walk around for the continuous traffic and one very average pub to which they will be unable to deliver beer barrels when the streets have been reorganised.

Coulsdon still has a valid shopping centre (despite twenty-four shops now being takeaways), but the entertaining centre has gone with no plans to replace it.

I shall say it all tonight and hope the Planners are present, saving my skin.

Something to look Forward to…

Recently I was diagnosed with AAADD: Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how it manifests itself:

I need to wash my car. As I start towards the garage, I notice that there is mail on the hall table. I decide to go through the mail before washing the car. I put my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the kitchen bin and notice that it is full, so I decide to put the bills back on the table and empty the bin first.

But then I say to myself, since I’m going to be near the mailbox when I take out the trash anyway, I might as well pay the bills first. I take my cheque book off the table and see that there is only one cheque left. My new cheque book is in my study, so I go there to my desk where I find a bottle of Coke I had been drinking.

I’m about to look for the cheques, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that it doesn’t get knocked over, but it’s getting warm and I decide to put it in the fridge to keep it cold.

Heading towards the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the sideboard catches my eye – they need water. Putting down my Coke, I notice my reading glasses which I’ve been searching for all morning, so I decide to put them back on my desk, but first I must water the flowers.

I put the spectacles back on the sideboard, go to the kitchen and fill a jug with water when I suddenly spot the TV remote, someone had left it on the kitchen table. When we go to watch TV tonight we shall be looking for the remote, so I decide take it back to the sitting room where it belongs, but first I must water the flowers.

I splash some water on the flowers but most of it spills on the floor, so I put the remote back on the table, to get a towel to wipe up the spill. Then I head down the hall trying to remember why I’m going that way and what I was planning to do.

Now it’s the end of the day. The car isn’t washed, the bills aren’t paid and there is a warm bottle of Coke sitting on the sideboard. The flowers aren’t properly watered, there is still only one cheque in my cheque book, I can’t find the remote, I can’t find my glasses and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys.

I try to figure out why nothing got done today. I’m really baffled because I know I was busy all day long and now I’m really tired. I realise that this is a serious problem and I’ll try to get some help for it, so I plan what I’ll do tomorrow, perhaps call my doctor for advice, but first I must wash the car in the morning…

Found, if he remembers right, on the IInternet! by Brian Blakeney.

Produced and edited monthly by Ian Scales (01737 553704)
for The Coulsdon Probus Club.
Edition No 82.

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