August’s Monthly Meeting

8pm, 17th August

Good evening members of U3A Todmorden!

104 members (including six new members) and seven visitors attended our Members’ meeting at the Central Methodist Church this afternoon.

Because our Chairman was unexpectedly unable to attend, I (Jean A Pearson) volunteered to be your Chairman for the afternoon having been given Ernie’s typed notes to read out – and I stuck to the letter – well, almost! It was a pleasure to be in the Chair for this session.

In the absence of Gail Allaby (Groups Co-ordinator) I provided the following information from her – (a) she has found a new venue for our Special Interest Groups to use in the snug room at the Hare and Hounds, Burnley Road, Todmorden. The room is free, but members will be expected to buy a drink. There is a large car park. (b) The Mah Jong Group has moved from Wetherspoons and this week played at the Queen and next week the meeting will be from 3 pm – 5 pm at the Hare and Hounds. (c) The French Improvers’ Group has moved its meetings to Thursdays only. (d) Mike Hickling, who runs a bridge group at Walsden Cricket Club (Todmorden Bridge Club), has offered to teach U3A Tod members the rudiments of the game. More information will follow about days and times and insurance cover.

Ernie reports that the Inclusiveness Group, led by Doug Simpson, has produced a first draft of their suggestions – a few tweaks are needed before it is published.

Keith Coates and his team have produced a draft copy of the ‘History of U3A Todmorden’ in plenty of time for our 10th anniversary celebrations next May. The report is about 32 pages long so it is very comprehensive and we hope to have it published professionally.

A few members have not yet paid their subs and they will not be allowed to attend any Special Interest Group or members’ meetings from now on.

Our October meeting will be called ‘Don’t Chuck It, Check it’, presented by Sheila Antrobus who is a valuer and auctioneer. She will be inviting members to bring along small objects – and Ernie stresses SMALL – for valuing – a sort of Antiques Road Show. We expect this to be a very popular meeting so it will be strictly limited numbers and only those members who produce their membership cards will be given entrance. Forewarned is forearmed!

Membership cards which have not been collected today from Dinah Kenworthy (Membership Secretary) will be posted out by the end of September.

The Speaker at next month’s meeting (Thursday, 21st September, 2017) is Christine Griffiths, who is the Minister at the Central Methodist Church, and her subject will be ‘Facing the Inevitable’. Ernie says don’t let this title put you off! If you don’t know Christine, look out for a 64 year old with either pink or purple hair and driving a huge purple Mercedes soft top vehicle – she is not the usual Methodist Minister!

Mary Findon (Craft Group Convenor) gave an illuminating five-minute Showcase about our Craft Group and there was a display of some of their work prior to the meeting. The Group members sound to be full of enthusiasm and I was struck by the wide range of activities they’ve been involved in and, perhaps more importantly, the way in which they all care for and share with each other. Thank you Mary for your presentation.

Our Speaker-Finder – Peter Carrigan – introduced our guest speaker – Dr Mary Holmes – the title of her talk being ‘Four years, Eight Histories and a Dog’. Her dynamic presentation gave us her reflections about her involvement in and admiration for The Royal Shakespeare Company and some of the history of its Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. We all found it a spell-binding talk and many questions were asked along the way. Peter thanked Mary for her talk.

Best wishes – Jean

July’s Monthly Meeting

Greetings to all members. We had 111 members, four visitors and four new members present at our AGM and I welcome the members who joined on the day. The committee hope you enjoy your time with U3A Todmorden.

The AGM ran smoothly and thanks to the whole committee for their help. Marion Kershaw read the minutes of the AGM 2016, which were accepted by the membership.

Bill Griffiths gave the Financial Report, that we are in a sound and healthy position. The membership also accepted the report, which was signed and dated.

Bill Griffiths is leaving his post as Treasurer. There being no other nominations Emily Watnick was returned as Treasurer.

There were two vacancies on the committee; there being no other nominations Anne Foster and Peter Carrigan were returned to the committee.

We now have just over 500 members registered, but expect to lose several, who have not yet paid their subscriptions. There are 40 special interest groups.

The good news is that, thanks to the hard work of Emily, we now have in our bank account £445.03 returned to us from HMRC for Gift Aid. I would ask all members to consider completing a Gift Aid form, if they pay tax. By claiming back about £3 per person, we can try to maintain the £15 membership fee; held for the last eight years; and purchase new equipment. Our oldest computer needs replacing; it is eight years old and runs on Vista, which is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Keith Coates is heading the Research Project and has found that there are 22 fully paid up members, whose names never appear as attending the monthly or special interest meetings.

On Tuesday, Doug Simpson gave the committee a very comprehensive report on the issues surrounding members with hearing, mobility or sight problems. It was thought-provoking. We are on the right lines but work has to be done to make improvements. When the final report is given to the committee, it will be shared with convenors and interested parties.

Now for several appeals. U3A is a self-help organisation, so we always require volunteers for all aspects of our groups.

The team that looks after the sound and vision equipment would like some additional help. I gave full details last month. If any member has experience, or would like to be trained how to use the mixer desk, please contact either Peter Gibson or myself. Our contact details are on the website. At the end of the meeting two members came forward with offers of help. So thanks to them.

We have asked regularly about helpers for the tea/coffee rota. Many members say they will help out, if required, but when asked to commit to a particular date, they seem to fade away. If you can help please contact me.

To remind all members. At the beginning of September, we will post out all membership cards to those who have paid their subscriptions, but not collected them. Once a reasonable time has elapsed, members may be asked to produce current cards for entrance to monthly or special interest groups. Our Research Group found about 20 people attending groups, who were not U3A Todmorden members; this situation has mainly been resolved.

Finally. We have produced newsletters reasonable frequently, to try and keep all members up to date with our activities. However, this year, those who normally put this item together have been extremely busy on projects. If any member would like to help to assemble a two-sided, simple, short newsletter, please get in touch with me. We have the processes to gather information; we require members who can bring this together, so it can be put into a “desk top publishing” program. We will then print them. At the end of the meeting a member offered to help, and for that I am grateful. But we can always use more help to lighten the workload.

Gail gave her monthly report about group activities. Full information will be on the website.

Jean Pearson spoke about her Art group, why it started, and showed an example of work she had completed.

One of the convenors for the Lunch Club has had to withdraw and Jean Pearson has volunteered to forward details of the forthcoming meetings. Jean announced the date of the Christmas lunch. As before it will be at Stubbing Wharf and details of the date and menu are available. Book early this is always a popular event.

Alison Greenwood spoke about the forthcoming weekend devoted to the life of Geoff Love and the book launch in early September. Details are available from the Information Centre.

Gill Radford, our Vice-Chair introduced our guest speaker, Geoff Tansey and his presentation: Food: Wars or Peace? This was a challenging talk about fair, healthy, and sustainable food systems. Food systems correspond to what people want. But is what they want realistic, will it be so in the future? The number of people working in agriculture is staggering; about 2.5 billion, world wide, ranging from farmers, traders, workers, processors, manufacturers, wholesaler, caterers; before the product reaches us, the consumers. There is a battle for consumers by manufacturers and a few massive companies have a great deal of control. The seed industry, for example, has only three major producers. There are many threats to agriculture; climate, competition over resources, global militarisation, systems not fit for purpose. Geoff suggested that increased productivity is not necessarily the complete answer; that we already have sufficient food production for our needs. He asked in the future will we be able to consume what we want, rather than require. He suggested that we all need to act together; individuals, governments, communities, corporations, for the benefit of us all. There are some goals, the most important to end hunger by 2030. If societies do not have sufficient food, they will move.

I remind members that the next U3A Todmorden monthly meeting will be on 17 August: our speaker will be Dr Mary Holmes and her subject ”Four years, eight histories and a dog”. Your committee look forward to meeting you.

Ernie Rogan Chairman.

Bernard Lockett and Neil Smith enthral U3A Todmorden

by Anthony Peter.

May and June have been musical months for U3A Todmorden. In May, members enjoyed the return of Bernard Lockett whose talk focused on the political and social satire of Gilbert and Sullivan.

It’s hard to imagine Gilbert and Sullivan as anything other than pillars of the establishment, but Bernard Lockett showed us that their brilliance lies in the way the bite of Gilbert’s satire gains acceptability through the softening effect of Sullivan’s music.

Nevertheless, Bernard proposed that since G&S performances were attended by all classes of society, one can imagine the lower classes in the gallery enjoying a laugh at the expense of the socially elevated in the stalls.

Such laughter would, for example, have come at the expense of Parliament (‘Iolanthe’), the Law (‘Trial by Jury’) or corruption in government (‘The Mikado’).

The practice of offering high office to unsuitable men is highlighted by ‘the ruler of the Queen’s Navy’ in ‘HMS Pinafore’. This opera spotlights the fact that the stationery magnate, W.H. Smith, a man of no marine experience, had been shoehorned into the Admiralty as its First Sea Lord. (Bernard pointedly observed that there are today 42 Admirals in the Royal Navy even though it does not have that many ships.)

Gilbert’s social commentary is often acute. ‘Princess Ida’ advocates the role of women in society to clear up the mess that men – who ‘at best are but a monkey shaved’ – have made of it. It makes the case for university education and votes for women.

And in ‘Utopia Limited’, one critic has observed that ‘English prudery, English conversation, English company promoting, the English party system, the English War Office and Admiralty, the County Council, and the English Cabinet’ are all taken to task.

Once again, Bernard’s talk was illustrated with DVD excerpts from the operas which were highly entertaining and reminded us that although the operas are considered ‘light’, they offer substantial challenges to the singers.

Neil Smith in June, by contrast, offered us musical entertainment of a delightfully different and varied kind. Neil’s reputation as an international guitarist is among the highest, and together with his skill and musicality in styles ranging through classical, rock and jazz, he has clearly enjoyed a rich, rewarding and, occasionally, bizarre life.

These unusual experiences include being Molotov-cocktailed in Belfast, a performance for Blair and Clinton that was interrupted several times by an argument among their aides, avoiding a honey trap in a Moscow hotel, being bodyguarded by a Greek national hero, ‘Tassos’, and just missing the chance to go to Hamburg as a fill-in guitarist for The Beatles.

Neil has played for people such as Elizabeth Taylor, The Queen Mother, the Red Army in Transylvania, and General Sheikh Mahtoum III. His performances around the world at embassies are innumerable and include an encounter with an embassy 007 who quizzed him on the USSR and Arabia.

This wonderfully varied anecdotal talk was punctuated by lovely short excerpts on the guitar – Greek dance music, Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto, the March of King Brian Boru and others. Neil’s talk was well balanced, delightfully engaging and a tribute to good musicianship.

Our homegrown showcase speakers have been Alan Fowler (Social History) and Nigel Plant (Photography).

Alan’s knowledge and expertise are prodigious, and his group’s main focus is on the history of 20th century northern textile towns. They make use of autobiographies and Mass Observation documents. They have a current ambition to study Todmorden local papers from 1918 as a turning point in the town’s manufacturing life.

Nigel is an experienced photographer with 20 years’ experience of clubs at national and international level. Sometimes the group runs sessions on camera technique (filters, tripods, range, shutter speed etc.), but generally bases sessions on looking at members’ photographs. They also mount their own occasional exhibitions in the Information Centre, and organise outings.

Other News and Information

The AGM takes place at the next meeting on 20th July.

Members are reminded again that subs should be paid as soon as possible, with Gift Aid if possible. Convenors are reminded to check that those attending their meetings are paid up members.

Peter Gibson, our long-serving and much-valued Technical Officer, wishes to relinquish some of his responsibilities. Anyone with a technical or practical bent who is willing to help take over some of what Peter has been doing, should contact Peter directly.

Pam Lonsdale from Community Transport Calderdale addressed us in June and highlighted the range of services they offer. The service relies on volunteers to help with transport to hospital or shopping for those who through ill health or isolation need support. Contact details for CTC are 01422 845479 and their website is www.ctcalderdale.co.uk

Todmorden U3A’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, 20th July in the Central Methodist Church in Todmorden at 1.45. This meeting will our AGM, followed by a talk by Geoff Tansey titled ‘Food: Wars or Peace? Challenges and Opportunities in 21st Century’. Our contact details are (website) www.u3atod.org.uk, (email) enquiries@u3atod.org.uk, or (phone) 01706 812015.

June’s Monthly Meeting

Report of Members’ Meeting – Thursday June 15th

This is not the report of the Chairman, or even the Vice Chairman, as both are on holiday at present and so it fell to me to chair what was an exceptionally entertaining meeting.

There was a short talk by Pam Lonsdale of Community Transport Calderdale who explained the range of services which they offer for those who cannot access other transport because of ill health, isolation, or simply cannot afford it. This could be for a hospital appointment or shopping. They provide a home-from-hospital service in partnership with Age UK which not only provides transport from the hospital but ensures that necessary support is available at home.

The service relies on volunteers (as drivers, but also with administration and other tasks). If anyone wishes to contact them to volunteer or to find out about their services the telephone no. is 01422 845479. There is also a web site – www.ctcalderdale.co.uk.

There was also a short presentation by Nigel Plant, convenor, about the photography group. He emphasised that you don’t have to have expensive equipment to take part in the group, who will welcome new members. Anyone who is interested can contact Nigel by email at nigelonline@mac.com or by phone – 01422 845479.

Gail Allaby gave us the Groups Report as she has not been able yet to circulate it because of computer problems. She promised to circulate the report as soon as her computer was “out of hospital”.

Our main speaker was Neil Smith, whose talk was entitled “Have guitar will travel”. An appropriate title because his talk took us from Horwich and Mecca Dance Halls in Manchester to Italy, Las Vegas, Hollywood, Saudi Arabia, Northern Ireland, Greece, South America, the former USSR, and Glamis Castle in Scotland. These are just some of the many places he has played in his career as a professional guitarist. He told how he nearly played with the Beatles before they were famous, how he played for Elizabeth Taylor, and for the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday at Glamis Castle. He also spoke of the dangers of being a guitar player, having escaped being blown up and, on a separate occasion, nearly shot in Northern Ireland; and arrested in the USSR. His fascinating stories were all accompanied by his accomplished playing of pieces which were associated with each place.

It was a performance which was enjoyed by all.

AGM

The next meeting is on July 20th, which will be the AGM. There are vacancies for two committee members and for the post of Treasurer. Nomination papers will be circulated shortly if you wish to propose anyone for one of these positions.

The AGM will be followed by the normal meeting when the speaker will be Geoff Tansey whose subject will be “Food:Wars or Peace in the 21st century”

Regards
Keith Coates

May’s Monthly Meeting

Greetings to all members. We had over 100 members attending again and I welcome the six new members who joined. Our visitors included two members from the “about to be formed group” from Whitworth, Rochdale and the committee wishes them well.

I am pleased to report that we now have 494 members; just short of that magic 500. Last month over half the membership renewed their subscription and at Thursday’s meeting about another 30 paid by cash and cheque, so thanks to all for paying on time.

Emily Watnick, our Assistant Treasurer, has been working hard to persuade members to sign up for Gift Aid, and to date we have received from HMRC a total of £440. Hopefully there will be more to come.

The not-so-good news is that Jean Pearson has been working on the Research Project and by matching names to groups, has discovered that there are over 20 people who attend, but are not U3A Todmorden members. Convenors have been given details and asked to check, and we hope this situation will be resolved shortly.

As a result of this work, the committee has decided that, from September this year, members may be asked to produce their membership cards to attend group or members’ meetings. All members who have paid their subscriptions, but not collected their membership cards from members’ meetings, will receive them in the post in August.

I give advanced notice that the AGM will now take place at the July members’ meeting. There will be a vacancy for Treasurer and two vacancies for committee members. The calling notice and nomination papers will be published shortly.

The three projects are underway. Keith Coates has pages of information and statistics for the Research project. Many thanks to those members who have replied to the surveys. Doug Simpson is chairing the project for members with sight, hearing or mobility issues and has forwarded some of their comments. The 10th Anniversary group have met and are looking at various aspects of the celebrations.

This month I was pleased to be invited to attend the Novel Appreciation group, having first read the book, Dissolution, and took part in the review of the novel. It was most interesting and I thank Ant Peter and his group. I have had a few invitations to other groups, so if convenors wish to forward dates I will do my best to attend and join in proceedings.

I have been asked to remind members that there are still some places available on the Let’s Go trip to Eden Camp on 7th June. This promises to be an enlightening visit to a most well known attraction.

Finally Peter Gibson, our long-serving and long-suffering Technical Officer, wishes to hand over some, but not all, of his duties. Peter has been holding down at least four posts. In his own words “I would like the committee to seek several volunteers to join the team to set out and pack away the audio and visual equipment used at members’ meetings.”

Peter has also had the responsibility of keeping membership records. Our system is based on XL, but the committee think we should change to a more modern system, perhaps “in the cloud”.

One of Peter’s other jobs has been the trouble shooter: the computer won’t start/this has gone wrong/how do I book the equipment for next week/the digital lock will not open.

Any members who have worked in IT, have a love for computers and programs, are practical or can help in any way and want U3A Todmorden to continue and flourish please contact Peter, any committee member or me; all our details are on the website.

Peter has carried this burden for eight years and the fact that we are asking for multiple members to take over these roles indicates his commitment to U3A Todmorden and how hard he has worked. Over the years he has been Group Coordinator, Speaker Finder, Chairman and has held other posts.

Our speaker this month was Bernard Lockett and we were pleased to welcome him back. His subject this time was the Social and Political satire of Gilbert and Sullivan. Gilbert was concerned that 95% of the population lived in poverty. He talked about the corruption of the legal system. But Sullivan’s music took the edge off the satire. Members of the House of Lords “did nothing in particular, but did it well”. Many audience members could not hear the words clearly, but just enjoyed the music: fortunately, Bernard gave us numerous examples of the comments on society of their day compared with today. Disraeli gave W H Smith, who had never served in the Navy, the post of First Lord of the Admiralty, resulting in the song from HMS Pinafore “When I was a lad” “Stick close to your desks and one day you may be the Ruler of the Queens Navy”. Today known as “jobs for the boys”. As a reformer Gilbert wrote Princess Ida in 1883 and championed education and universities for women. He was truly ahead of his time. We look forward to Bernard’s next visit.

Next month neither Gill Radford, vice chair, nor I will be in attendance and the meeting, Thursday 15 June 2017, will be chaired by Keith Coates, who will introduce our speaker Neil Smith and his subject Have guitar: will travel.

Ernie Rogan Chairman

April’s Monthly Meeting

Andy Capp says: Don't stop me -- I'm off to pay my U3A Todmorden subscription!Greetings to all members. We had about 130 members attending, but only 88 signed in. It is a “Health and Safety” matter that members sign in for the meeting.

I make no apologies for repeating the cartoon, produced by Nick Littlewood and his publicity team, to remind all members that annual subscriptions are due. Members will be aware that my reports have contained many references to subscriptions. I am certain that the cartoon helped to bring this to the fore. In fact 117 members renewed last Thursday; 40% more than last year. This has resulted in having almost 25% of the membership paid up already. When the figures for those who pay by Bank Standing Order are added, on 1st May, we will have almost 50% of the membership renewed. A big thanks to all members who have already renewed, and thanks to the committee for all their hard work. We will be running a similar system, at the May members’ meeting, for those who wish to pay by cash or cheque. Members who wish to pay by Bank Standing Order can find all details on our website. It is not too late to Gift Aid subscriptions for this financial year.

Bill Griffiths, our Treasurer, reminds members that the old £5 note will no longer be legal tender next month.

Our 3 projects are underway. Gail and her team for the Impairment project meet for the first time next week. Any member who has hearing, sight or mobility issues, and who wishes to join, now is the time. The team planning the 10th Anniversary celebrations meets next week. Keith Coates has been leading the History and Research project, gathering statistics, information and preparing an introduction.

I would draw your attention to the excellent exhibition at the Todmorden Information Centre of images taken by Photography Group 1, led by Nigel Plant. There is an immediate impact of professionalism the way the photographs have been set out and labelled. I congratulate all involved. The exhibition is on until the end of the week.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the Art Appreciation group to see a presentation about knitting. Though sceptical originally, I really enjoyed the experience, and learned about the meaning of the various patterns on the garments: ropes, waves, fish, boats, sailors. The co-convenor has persuaded group members to join in a trial. Members choose a number, blindly. This corresponds to a subject, and they will have to research it and give a short presentation. This is part of the process of being a member of U3A; it’s not just sitting back and listening.

On to the meeting. Gail Allaby, our Group Coordinator, gave her report, which can be found on the website. It is interesting that a new group, Old English, about to start, will have an American convenor.

Jean Pearson spoke for 5 minutes about the Coffee Club, which meets socially regularly. There is no coordinator, no agenda, just a general chat. Details are on the website.

Gill Radford, our Vice Chair introduced our speaker Professor Derek Scott, for a return visit. Professor Scott spoke about the Eurovision Song Contest, which is now 60 years old. Although originally songs had to be in the country’s native language, now the contest bears no resemblance to the first years. Professor Scott gave so many examples of the various different types of songs and how they were performed. My favourite; a reggae number, “Let the sun shine into your heart”, which the singers performed wearing leder hosen. As previously, Professor Scott had us all laughing with his descriptions and treated us to many recorded highlights of the songs over the years. It was a sort of upmarket “Terry Wogan” type critical appraisal of Eurovision. I am certain we will all look forward to Professor Scott’s next visit.

We had special guests on Thursday: Josie and Peter Conway, both from Todmorden Choral Society. I thank them for allowing us the use of the piano, which the Society owns.

Our next members’ meeting will be 18 May. Our scheduled speaker has had to withdraw because of ill health. His place will be taken by Bernard Lockett, who last year delighted us with his presentation of the music of Gilbert and Sullivan. This time he will be speaking about the politics of G&S and the relevance today.

Your committee looks forward to seeing you.

Ernie Rogan, Chairman.

Professor Scott Scores a Euro-Hit

by Anthony Peter.

Thursday, 20th April saw the return of Professor Derek Scott of Leeds University to Todmorden U3A. Last year we were treated to Orientalism in music; this time we were nearer home, looking at that very peculiar Occidental phenomenon, The Eurovision Song Contest.

01aThe contest’s final will take place this year on May 13th in Kiev. Professor Scott opened with some musings on whether Brexit will affect voting patterns, and whether Russia, whose entry has been refused by Ukraine, will make a fuss. ‘It’s so unpolitical’ he said with jocular irony.

Indeed, this was a jocular talk, but, as one would expect from a professor of critical musicology, one that was underlain with some serious analysis and questioning. How often does a country’s indigenous music influence its entry? Has a European style developed? What are the key ingredients that are likely to ensure success?

Professor Scott thought that national styles were not significantly represented. Swiss singers do not yodel. In 1972, Luxembourg won with a French song sung by a Greek, and in 1978 they were represented by a Spanish duo singing in French. Many entries now are in English.

Perhaps this international blending is what Eurovision is all about. After all, the EU’s adopted motto is ‘Unity in Diversity’. However, in 1990 the Italian entry, ‘Insieme’, though sung in Italian, had a chorus of ‘Unite, unite Europe!’ sung in English at a time when the UK was agitating about the upcoming Maastricht Treaty!

But what are the characteristics of euro-pop? ‘Easy Listening’ is the predominant style – an urban entertainment representing ‘freshly-minted traditionalism’.

Popular songs are likely to fall into one of four categories:

  • ‘Enjoy Life’, featuring songs like ‘Congratulations’, ‘J’Aime la Vie’ or Germany’s 1987 entry ‘Let the Sun into Your Heart’. These songs invariably have a strong 2 or 4 beat rhythm.
  • Then there is the oddly named ‘Public Spaces for Leisuretime Pleasure’ category. Professor Scott mentioned such classics as ‘Cinéma’, the Swiss 1980 entry placed 4th, or Germany’s magnificent ‘Theater’ that was placed 2nd the same year. There is a particular European fondness for songs that hint of the fairground containing musical devices that suggest mechanical movement. ‘Puppet on a String’ and ‘Boom Bang-a-Bang’ are obvious examples, and that lesser known German entry in 1962, ‘Zwei Kleine Italiener’.
  • Category 3 might be described as ‘Quasi-Sacred, with Secular and Light Political Overtones’ such as Katrina and the Waves’ winning number ‘Love Shine a Light. The use of the tambourine and the gospel descanter are also popular elements in such songs.
  • And finally, the tremendous world of ‘Visceral Onomatopoeia’ which must include refrains ‘free from linguistic restraint’ such as ‘boum bang-a-boum’, its variation ‘boom-bang-a-bang ‘,‘ding a dong’, and perhaps the mother of them all ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ Finland’s bizarre 2006 winner.

Less notable was Spain’s ‘La La La’ which won in 1968 when Cliff Richard was pipped by General Franco’s bribed juries. (Remember, ‘It’s so unpolitical’!) Though the phenomenon of countries voting for each other can perhaps be explained by expat populations, which is why, for example, Germany often supports Turkey so strongly.

What else do composers of Eurowinners need to look out for? The obvious one is the AABA structure: catchy tune, repeat it, have a variation, then repeat it again. If that can include a key shift upwards to reinforce the emotional sincerity of the song, all well and good.

A happy tone, a party mood, a major key, a solo and a duet, a 2 or 4 beat rhythm, a tempo that is fast but not too fast, and a catchy refrain are other things to include.

To illustrate this, Professor Scott had written us his own Eurovision entry. With lyrics that probably categorised it as ‘Quasi-Sacred’, and illustrating ‘Unity in Diversity’, we listened enthusiastically to ‘Be Nice to Nice People (Be Rude to Rude People)’. Surely, we were thinking, this would have had a better chance than Jemini or Joe and Jake?

Ernie Rogan thanked Professor Scott for his illuminating and entertaining talk describing him as ‘an upmarket Terry Wogan’. Certainly, the 130 members attending enjoyed an afternoon full of Woganesque humour and intelligibly presented academic analysis. Perfect!

Our monthly Groups’ Showcase starred The Coffee Club convened by Jean Pearson.

Jean spoke about it as the brainchild of Ahmed Commis, and emphasised its value as an informal opportunity for a meeting of minds. Conversation is about learning and friendship, and embraces the international, the national and the parochial. The club’s strength is perhaps that it has no formal agenda, so every meeting is a surprise.

01bMeetings take place in the upper room of the Polished Knob opposite Todmorden Market on, usually, the first Monday of the month at 11.00.

Other News and Information
Ernie Rogan reported that he anticipates that, following his ‘pay-your-subscriptions-as- soon-as-possible-and-with-Gift-Aid-if-possible’ drive, 50% of subs will have been paid to date. If you want to pay by standing order, the form is here; if you want to pay at the May Members’ Meeting, that will be possible as well.

Ernie also reports that he is making his pastoral way, by invitation, round our groups. He visited Art Appreciation last month, and learned about knitting as an art. He is due to visit Novel Appreciation shortly. If convenors would like to welcome Ernie to their groups, just get in touch with him.

Gail reported that a new group for the study of Old English is about to get under way.

Remember that there is usually an opportunity at monthly meetings to book your place on a Let’s Go outing. Places usually go fast, so you need to get in there quickly. The recent trip to Chirk Castle was a lovely day out in the fresh air, ebullient wind, and modernised medieval buildings.

Todmorden U3A’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, 18th May in the Central Methodist Church in Todmorden at 1.45 which will feature the return of Bernard Lockett whose subject will be ‘The Social and Political Satire of Gilbert and Sullivan’. Our contact details are (website) www.u3atod.org.uk, (email) enquiries@u3atod.org.uk, or (phone) 01706 812015.

Old Flames and Steamy Memories

by Anthony Peter

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Granville Dobson was U3A Todmorden’s Guest Speaker at our March meeting, standing in at short notice for the indisposed Alan Hemsworth, whom we had hoped would reveal The Riddle of Humpty Dumpty’. It’s always a bit of a tall order to step in at the last minute, and Granville did us proud. If the title of his talk, ‘Old Flames’, had led us to expect a naughty excursion through the love-life of his youth, Granville soon disabused us of that misconception. The old flames he had in mind were the steam locomotives he serviced as boy and man, during his time as a fireman on the footplate.

Granville was 41 years with British Rail and gave us a quick resumé of the development of the railways in Yorkshire and Lancashire. He was an expert on the Low Moor Shed in Bradford. He gave us an enthusiastic run down on the achievements of railway engineer Sir William Stanier, whose engine designs brought LMS out of the doldrums and who restored the Low Moor Shed. He also reminded us of a few key railway dates: 1948 nationalisation; 1958 Low Moor shut to steam engines; 1959-1964 dieselisation at Low Moor; 1963 and 1965 The Beeching Reports; 1966 closure of branch lines all over Yorkshire; and 1967 – the closure of Low Moor Shed.

Granville had a lot to say about the bitterness between ASLEF and the NUR, and even more about Ernest Marples, then Minister of Transport, whose road-building interests just happened to coincide with Dr. Beeching’s recommendations for closing rail lines. Unsurprisingly, Mr Marples ended up living abroad. But Granville’s personal recollections were given equal weight in his talk. He described his affair with rail as ‘hot, dirty, uncomfortable, dangerous and wildly exciting’, especially as a fireman with one foot on the loco and one on the tender. In 1946 as a boy on a visit to London, he was invited into the cab of a Stanier Pacific locomotive called ‘City of St Albans’ and consequently, when he left grammar school, he felt called by the romance of rail rather than a white collar job. As a beginner he was on £5-17-00 a week. That earned him the privilege of cleaning out the fireboxes, chipping out razor-sharp ‘cabbages’ of clinker. He used a spanner as a hammer and at the end of the day he went home covered in red dust. There were no washing facilities at work.

When he was able to, he applied to be a fireman, was accepted, and worked his way up to mainline operations. He operated under many different drivers. One, Jack Crampton, had the reputation of burning more coal than any other driver in the region, but though incompetent was generous. Harold Leroy had an explosive temper and disliked graduate managers. Another colleague, who was a maniac when trying to make up lost time, once refashioned his false teeth by the heat of the firebox because they fitted badly, only to discover that they were his wife’s. Health and safety was different then, too. A badly bleeding finger was something to wrap up and put up with as you shovelled coal – no fun if you were on a line with 43 stops and the engine needed a constant supply of fresh steam.

This was an immensely enjoyable talk, and our appreciation was shown by Granville (who never had time to cook bacon and eggs on a shovel) selling all the copies of his book he had brought in case of interest from our members.

Monthly Group Showcase
A new feature for our U3A groups, this month it was the turn of Jazz Joy, and group convenor David Greenhough spoke about Jazz, the love of his life. David owns 20,000 vinyl jazz records, all a consequence of hearing Big Bill Broonzy at an impressionable age. For £2 a session, to cover room costs at the Fielden Centre, members can enjoy a couple of hours of unadulterated pleasure in the company of both jazz and the intensity of David’s measured, knowledgeable and humorous enthusiasm.

Ernie Rogan also urged us to pay our subs as soon as possible, and to consider seriously the advantage of doing so by standing order. And we were reminded that by Gift Aiding our subs, U3A can claim free money from HMRC. Finally, members will be pleased to know that several convenors have attended a First Aid course run by Don Buxton, a Yorkshire Ambulance responder, and are now more confident about handling a crisis should one occur.

Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, 20th April in the Central Methodist Church in Todmorden at 1.45 when our speaker will be Professor Derek Scott, whose subject will be ‘Eurovision Song Contest’. Our contact details are (website) www.u3atod.org.uk, (email) enquiries@u3atod.org.uk, or (phone) 01706 812015.

March’s Monthly Meeting

Members’ meeting report, Thursday 16 March 2017.

Greetings to all members. We had a good attendance of about 100 members.

Gail gave her group report, which can be found on the website.

Committee member Peter Gibson made an excellent suggestion, agreed by the committee, that convenors could have five minutes to promote their groups. The first to speak was David Greenhough, convenor of Jazz Joy. David has huge enthusiasm for his subject and a great commitment for his group. He lives in Bacup, does not have a car and so ‘commutes’ to his meetings by taxi. I hope that David’s dedication is rewarded by an increase in the attendance at Jazz Joy. Full details of meetings can be found on the website.

A great effort from Emily Watnick bringing to the attention of members and the committee the subject of Gift Aid has resulted in 140 members signing up. This will result in U3A Todmorden receiving from HMRC about £500. I would ask all members to consider Gift Aid. Members who pay more than £3.75 per annum tax are eligible to sign for Gift Aid for U3A Todmorden. This will help retain the membership fee at £15 and/or help us to renew our equipment as required.

Next month the committee hope to begin a campaign to ask members to consider paying subscriptions by Standing Order Mandate. The form for year 2017/18 is already on the website (thanks are due to Peter Gibson and Andrew Teal), to ensure we are ready in plenty of time. If any members not on the net wish to have a SO, then please contact me and I will ensure that one is posted.

The Memory Day was well received by those attending and the feedback was good.

The Impairment Project will be led by Gail Allaby. Any member who has issues with sight, hearing, or mobility and who wishes to increase their enjoyment of membership of U3A Todmorden should contact Gail.

Keith Coates, our former Chairman, has produced a questionnaire for our History and Research project. We intend this to be published by March 2018, in time for our 10th anniversary. A sub-committee has been formed to organise the celebrations.

Our speaker Granville Dobson, came to our aid. Our booked speaker became ill on Tuesday and Granville agreed to give a presentation. My thanks to Peter Carrigan for his hard work in finding a speaker, and to Granville for stepping in at such short notice. Plans have been made should a similar situation occur.

Granville talked about his 41 years on the railway, focusing on his 15 years as a Fireman, on the footplate. His home base was Low Moor, near Bradford. In 1948 the rail network was nationalised and by 1964, except for excursions, all trains were diesel hauled. Granville started work, at 16, as a junior cleaner, which meant climbing into the fire box of steam engines. He never knew how hot the working environment would be. He had to clear the clinker from around the inner skin and this always resulted in a choking red dust forming, within minutes of starting work. The fire boxes were approximately 10ftx5ftx5ft. There were many tales of the trials and tribulations of working on the footplate and the characters with whom he worked and spoke about very fondly. He talked about a driver, whose false teeth did not fit correctly, so spent a quite while carving and moulding them into shape. Only to find they were actually his wife’s!

Finally, on Saturday 18 March, 14 convenors attended a First Aid Awareness course, receiving an overview of First Aid including resuscitation, presented by a Yorkshire Ambulance responder. I thank Anne Foster for arranging the course. I am certain that all who attended will feel a little more confident, should a situation arise.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 20 April, when Professor Derek Scott will talk about the Eurovision Song Contest. Members may recall Professor Scott giving a humorous presentation last year. Your committee look forward to seeing you.

Ernie Rogan Chairman.

February’s Monthly Meeting

Report of the Members’ meeting held on 16 February 2017

Greetings to all members. We had our best attendance ever with over 150 members at Central. In fact some were so eager they were, literally, banging on the doors.

Our Group convenor, Gail, is on a well deserved holiday, so I would ask all members to look at her on-line report.

There were two matters of concern. Doug, who has been the Convenor for the World Affairs group for many years, reported that unless a volunteer could be found to take over the running of the group, the February meeting would be the last one. At the eleventh hour, Peter Baron has stepped forward and I thank him.

As members were advised last month, there were no volunteers for making refreshments, so we were without our usual welcome cup of tea/coffee and biscuit. However, Alison has advised that several members had “signed up” and, hopefully there may now be just sufficient for the remainder of the year.

Emily Watnick, our Assistant Treasurer, has brought her valuable experience to remind our members to sign up for Gift Aid. In general, members who pay tax can sign a simple Gift Aid form. This allows U3A Todmorden to claim back £3 on top of every £15 subscription. 22 members signed the forms on Thursday and we now have a total of about 70 members. This means that we can already claim over £200 back from HMRC. This could result in the group retaining the subscription at the present level of £15, or helping purchase equipment in the future. Ideally, the committee would like all eligible members to sign for Gift Aid. The £200 we can reclaim now is equivalent to 14 new members joining; and we do not have to service them; no emails, correspondence, or postage.

Last year the committee had difficulty in collecting subscriptions. These are due from April, yet some members did not pay until September. This, I believe, is unfair for the rest of the membership. We will be, actively, encouraging members to pay by Direct Debit.

The Impairment project has only 6 members who wish to be involved. This project’s aim is to enhance the enjoyment of members who have issues with sight, hearing, or mobility by making suggestions for improvement. Before we go any further, if any member wishes to join in, please contact me.

2018 will be the 10th anniversary of U3A Todmorden and, to celebrate, Keith Coates, our former Chairman, will introduce a combined History and Research project. We would like to speak to the original 50 members, most of whom are not only still around, but active.

Our speaker this month was Maria Glot and her subject was Titus Salt and Saltaire. Maria was the first Tourist Officer of Bradford District and now runs the Saltaire Experience, also acting as a guide. Her presentation was “in character” as the wife of one of Titus Salt’s employees: “eight children and another on the way”. Titus Salt built Saltaire Mill and the surrounding town, to be away from the slums and pollution of Bradford. The housing he offered his workforce was better than anywhere else in the area. Rents were not cheap, but the houses had indoor toilets and running water.
There was a cost: hard work in the mills, long hours, six days a week. He was an excellent money maker, even utilising every waste product to advantage. He patented a machine which could turn alpaca fibres into cloth which was as soft as silk, but cheaper.
Opinions differ about him: Philanthropist or Tyrant; 150 years on, we are no wiser — he burned all his papers prior to his death.

Please look out for a full review of Maria’s presentation, by Ant Peters, with photographs from J Roger Howard, in Todmorden News, in the next four weeks.

Our next Members’ Meeting will be Thursday 16 March and our speaker will be Alan Hemsworth; his subject, the Riddle of Humpty Dumpty.

Your committee look forward to seeing you

Ernie Rogan Chairman.

January’s Monthly Meeting

Chairman’s report on the January 2017 Member’s meeting

Greetings to all members. Your committee hopes that this year will be an exciting one for all members, with our three projects.

Our Memory Day is now fully booked, with a small waiting list. There will be a full report in February.

The History and Research project will be launched, next month, by our former Chairman, Keith Coates. Keith will give full details at our February meeting.

This month we launch our “Impairment project”. We would like members with hearing, sight, and mobility issues, to form a working group. We would like the group to look at what they think we, as a committee, could try to do to improve their experience of U3A Todmorden; to look at possible solutions, costs, sourcing, and then advise committee so that we can, hopefully, put these benefits or improvements into place. I would ask any interested member to pass on their name to our Group Co-ordinator, Gail Allaby, at g.p.allaby@allaby-cook.co.uk. We are pleased that John Taylor, Chairman of the Blind Society and also Todmorden Talking Newspaper has agreed to offer his help.

We have received a card from Dementia Friendly Todmorden, thanking those members who knitted “twiddlemuffs”, which are now being donated to local Care Homes.

The Town Council is running a series of Workshops for the Todmorden Neighbourhood Plan: Future Key sites; Future of Housing; Local Infrastructure. Full details are in this week’s Todmorden News or can be obtained from the Town Council.

Some not so good news. We do not have any volunteers for refreshments for the next four months. Therefore, unless members step forward, there will not be any tea/coffee/biscuits at the start of our Members’ meetings until June. Any volunteers should pass their names to Alison Greenwood at ali.greenwood48@gmail.com.

Four new members joined this month and on behalf of the committee we welcome them.

Our guest speaker Alun Pugh gave an interesting presentation about his father Dei and his service in Bomber Command during WW2. Alun told members of his father’s determination to be a pilot, about his training in Canada, although being told initially that he was too tall. Alun read extracts from his father’s diaries, recounting the operations he carried out. In 1944, a day after completing his dinghy training and following a raid on Berlin, Dei had to ditch into the sea, with his crew, and regrettably several members drowned or died of exposure, leaving only two crew members alive. Although a serious subject, Alun managed to inject humour into his presentation.

To remind members, our next meeting will beon Thursday 16 February 2017, when Maria Glot will be speaking about Titus Salt and Saltaire.

Your committee looks forward to seeing to next month.

Ernie Rogan Chairman

December’s Monthly Meeting

Chairman’s report on the members’ meeting, 15 December 2016.

Greetings to all members. This report will be quite long; some light reading over the festive period.

My week started listening to Eric Midwinter, on You and Yours, talking about the growth of U3A. 35 years earlier the programme had championed U3A. Now we have 1001 groups and 384,000 members and still growing. I am proud to be a part of this excellent organisation.

There was a smaller than usual attendance at our Christmas meeting. We welcomed our Town Mayor, Cllr A H Greenwood, also a U3A Todmorden member, and his Mayoress.

In committee we have been challenged about welcoming new members. Gill Radford, our Vice Chair writes: “After volunteering to be the link person welcoming new members to U3A Tod’s monthly meetings, there were indeed four potential new members, to whom I managed to chat. They showed an interest in French Conversation, Art, Science and Philosophy, so please be prepared to make them welcome in your groups. I am certain they, in turn, will be able to make suggestions, with ideas from Oxfordshire, Cambridge and London.”

Our entertainment was provided by our quiz team, ably led by Myrna Beet, who provided a variety of questions; general knowledge, music, pictures. Many thanks to them for their hard work.

John Wallis gave us a short history of Variety and Music Hall, originally called Harmony Meetings, which started in the East End of London and were for males only. John then went on to talk about his favourite “daft humour”: mainly Northern. He spoke about George Formby, who made 22 films, and many other Northern comics. John told his favourite jokes and regaled us with his expertise on the tenor banjo, mandola and ukelele. Finally we joined John in traditional songs and ended with a good sing-a-long with Christmas Carols.

Next year we hope to offer members some projects. Firstly will be a Memory Day on 22 February and this is detailed below.

Early in the New Year we hope that Keith Coates, our former Chairman, will lead a research project. U3A Todmorden will be ten years old very shortly, and we would like to start a History of the Group. We will write to the members who joined first, the original steering committee and committee members, asking them for their memories. We will hope to build on this and find out about our membership and compare it with our local population. Keith will give details on his return from the USA.

Finally, we would like a working party formed by members who have impairments; hearing, sight and mobility. The committee would like them to look at what is required to improve their experience of U3A; to try and find possible solutions, and costs, and then advise committee to see if funds are available. There will be more details in the New Year.

I thank all committee members for their hard work this year and wish all members a Happy Christmas, a safe and healthy New Year, and that we can all meet again in 2017.

Ernie Rogan Chairman


Memory Day 22 February 2017

We have arranged for a Memory training day to be held at Central Methodist Church on Wednesday 22 February 2017, from 2.00pm to 4.00pm. The presenters will be two members of Heswall U3A.

The first 70 minutes will be details of how the brain works, followed by hints and tips of how to train the memory.

We will then have a short refreshment break and continue with a period of interaction and practice.

We can only have 20 members per session, so it will have to be on a first come basis. There will be a charge of £5 per person to cover expenses.

Members who are interested should contact me either by email: arlineandernie@tiscali.co.uk or telephone 01706812015.

If the event is successful and there is sufficient interest, we will try and arrange another session later in the year.

November’s Monthly Meeting

Chairman’s report of the members’ meeting, Thursday 17 November 2016.

The committee is grateful for so many members attending on what was, in the morning, promising to be a typical miserable winter’s day.

We welcomed committee members from U3A Littleborough and announced that we now have signed a reciprocal agreement. Members can attend interest groups at either U3A with the usual proviso; checking with the convenors that vacancies are available and paying the group fees. Contact can be made via the website: u3asites.org.uk/littleborough.

Our short talk was given by Daniel Jessop; Volunteer and Events Coordinator at Todmorden Town Hall. Daniel has spoken to U3A Todmorden previously, making a successful appeal for volunteer guides. This time Daniel talked about the new Todmorden Town Hall guidebook: “reasonably priced at £4.95 and published just in time for Christmas.” I may have paraphrased his words. All the research was undertaken by the Town Hall guides, spending many hours in libraries and searching files. The guidebook was actually put together by Emma Stafford, Senior Lecturer in Classics at Leeds University. Her story in itself is interesting. A member of Todmorden Choral Society, she spent so much time admiring the medallions on the ceiling, she sometimes almost forgot to sing.

Our main speaker was Alan Fowler, a member and convenor of the Social History group. His topic: The Cotton Factory Times cartoons, by Sam Fitton, of WW1. Or “What did you laugh at in the Great War Daddy?”.

In 1914, the immediate impact of the war was unemployment; followed by part time employment. In 1916 prices and wages doubled, with wages chasing prices. There was the difficulty of recruiting personnel, so many men having gone to join the Armed Forces. Women began to work in the Cotton Industry; for the first time in spinning. The “u-boat” menace led not only to a shortage of food, but also of cotton, the raw material. Egyptian cotton was available, but the industry relied mostly on cotton from the USA.

Alan explained all the symbolism within the cartoons; the nicknames of the Kaiser, those profiting from the war, and the social effect of paying the cost of the war. In 1914 the Cotton Factory Times consisted of 8 pages. By 1917 it was down to 4. Sam Fitton’s cartoons only appeared in the inside pages and so were stopped.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 15 December featuring our well known non alcoholic punch, a Christmas quiz designed by Myrna Beet, and entertainment provided by John Wallis. Your committee look forward to meeting you at this relaxed event.

Ernie Rogan Chairman

Masterclass on Gilbert and Sullivan

by Anthony Peter.

Though I am not knowledgeable enough to open this report with a Gilbert and Sullivan quotation, I am not so unappreciative of excellence as to fail to remark that Bernard Lockett’s presentation to Todmorden U3A on 20th October 2016 was delivered with masterfully engaging ease and enthusiasm. Bernard Lockett is a self-confessed ‘life-long enthusiast of G & S’, a fact corroborated by his involvement with the annual G & S festival that takes place in Harrogate.

It was the purpose of his afternoon to convey something of his own pleasure to us and to dispel a few myths surrounding the musical pairing that endured for 25 years. During this time they produced 14 shows which are, after Shakespeare, the most performed pieces of theatre in the world. How should this be? For Mr Lockett, it’s because both W.S.Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were experts in their own fields, and they did not interfere with each other’s areas of expertise. Moreover, Gilbert wrote meaningful words that satirised the foibles and vices of late Victorian society, but did so in a way that was humorous enough to engage rather than alienate an audience. And Sullivan, who had received some of his musical training from Rossini, a master of the comic opera, wrote music that was effervescent, emotive, tuneful, and therefore, crucially, popular.

There are, however, interesting differences between the two: Gilbert was born into the landed gentry and was wealthy; Sullivan, by contrast, was the son of an Irish immigrant labourer who played the trumpet. Gilbert was a conspicuously unsuccessful barrister who was well placed to observe how corrupt British Society was and how industry benefited a mere 5% of the British people. His observations of society fed into his ‘Bab Ballads’ (1869). Abandoning law, he went into theatre management and journalism and writing plays. Sullivan won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music and continued his studies in Leipzig. In 1867, he wrote the music for Francis Burnand’s ‘Cox and Box’, which Gilbert reviewed and liked. He approached Sullivan and together they produced ‘Thespis’ at the Gaiety Theatre in 1871. It ran for three weeks, but was acknowledged to be poor. Gilbert went back to his plays and Sullivan turned to church music in which he excelled. The impresario, Richard D’Oyly Carte, however, had spotted talent and in 1871 asked G&S to write a short piece for his light opera company. This was ‘Trial by Jury’ and it proved the success that ‘Thespis’ had not been. From then on, G&S and D’Oyly Carte established a succession of huge musical triumphs. They were writing and producing the ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’ of the day, and eventually they moved into the Savoy Theatre, built by D’Oyly Carte with electric lighting and, novelty of novelties, numbered seating.

Mr Lockett introduced us to three excerpts from filmed modern productions of ‘The Mikado’, ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ and ‘The Gondoliers’. He was adamant in pointing out the telling qualities of each: the mastery with which Sullivan’s music shifted the mood in ‘The Mikado’, the circumstances of ‘The Monarch of the Sea’ that satirised Disraeli’s appointment of the stationer W.H. Smith as 1st Lord of the Admiralty, and Sullivan’s capacity to write sentimental Victorian ballads as well as lively dances.

Although it is often said that G&S did not get on and that Sullivan in particular was frustrated by the limitations of the partnership, Mr Lockett suggested this was not the case. He quoted from their diaries in which they warmly expressed their gratitude to each other. Where G&S did differ, however, was over money. Gilbert was careful when it came to production expenses, whereas Sullivan was extravagant, and they came close to blows over the issue of a new carpet in the Savoy Theatre. And their knighthoods? Sullivan was dubbed in 1883 for services to music. But Gilbert, because of his lyrics, was not the darling of those with influence, and when he was knighted in 1907 it was for his services to the magistracy.

This was an excellent afternoon. A full house of 148 enjoyed many moments of laughter, and were most delightfully informed by a well practised presenter who will be vividly remembered by all.

Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, 17th November in the Central Methodist Church in Todmorden at 1.45 when our speaker will be our own member, Alan Fowler, whose subject will be ‘The Cotton Cartoons of the Great War’.

Our contact details are (website) www.u3atod.org.uk, (email) enquiries@u3atod.org.uk, or (phone) 01706 812015.

October’s Monthly Meeting

Chairman’s report of the Members’ meeting, 20 October 2016.

Greetings to all members.

What an afternoon. 148 members and visitors attended on a warm autumnal day. We had nine new members join U3A Todmorden.

Keith Coates, our previous chairman, gave the group report, Gail Allaby being on holiday.

This was followed by our main speaker, Bernard Lockett, and his talk on the Musical Theatre of Gilbert and Sullivan. And what a wonderful presentation he gave. It was full of facts, humour, anecdotes and interspersed with clips from various performances.

We learned about the lives of the duo. In 25 years they wrote 14 shows. Few other collaborations have been as productive. They were both equally important, Sullivan’s music complementing Gilbert’s words. Their first show, Thesbis, was a failure, but now G&S rank second only to Shakespeare for the total number of performances. In fact Mikado is the most played theatrical piece.

Arthur Sullivan also wrote hymns and received a knighthood for his services to music. Whereas W S Gilbert, who wrote the lyrics, so infuriated the “establishment” by his criticism that he was honoured only for his work as a Magistrate.

The vote of thanks was given by Peter Carrigan, our Speaker Finder, who has revealed the exciting list of speakers for the first six months of next year. The list will be published shortly.

Our speaker next month will be our own member and convenor of the Social History group, Alan Fowler. His subject will be the Cotton Cartoons of the Great War.

NB: The International G&S Festival will take place in Harrogate between 4 and 20 August 2017.

Found: A small blue zipped case containing a pen and 2 tuning forks!!! If the owner could drop me a note (joke) to arrange collection.

Ernie Rogan, Chairman.

September’s Monthly Meeting

Vice Chair’s report of the Members’ meeting, 15th September 2016.

Greetings to all members.

Two new members joined 87 other members and 11 visitors, on a warm day, for our September meeting. Gill Radford introduced herself as the new Vice Chair and fronted the meeting in Ernie’s absence.

Gail Allaby gave her groups report, which was followed by a promotion by Richard White for a meeting at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, 9th October, to discuss safety; a notion highlighted in the recent Brexit discussions of which people seemingly do not have a common view, hence the meeting to discuss.

Our main speaker, Steve Halliwell, followed. His subject: Moses Holden; Astronomer, Lecturer and Methodist Evangelist.

This was an informative and interesting account of the life and works of Moses Holden, born 1877, the son of a hand loom weaver who became Freeman of the Borough of Preston. A self-educated genius who learnt to read at Sunday School, he was determined to become an astronomer after listening as a child to stories by Jeremiah Horrox.

He founded in Preston The Institute for the Diffusion of Knowledge which, working closely with the Temperance Movement, followed the blueprint of The Mechanics Institutes which were springing up in the surrounding towns.

He was a non-ordained Methodist Minister who completed an 18 month evangelical tour of the Fylde, leading Sunday School and Bible Group classes. This allowed him to fine-tune his skills as a public speaker and in turn he became a lecturing astronomer, talking about the telescopes, microscopes, clocks and magic lanterns that he had made. Touring the northern towns he lectured to audiences demonstrating his mathematical genius. He produced a transparent Orrery, and ultimately wrote a Celestial Handbook and Almanac featuring charts of planets, stars and comets, including, of course, Halley’s.

Moses Holden is mentioned on the Founders’ stone at the University of Central Lancashire, an accolade which exemplifies his life’s work in Preston and the surrounding area.

After responding to questions from members, Steve Halliwell was pleased to make available signed copies of his book.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 20th October when our speaker will be Bernard Lockett and his subject: The musical theatre of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Gill Radford.

August’s Monthly Meeting

Chairman’s report members’ meeting 18 August 2016.

Greetings to all members.

Four new members joined 86 other members and 12 visitors, on a warm day, for our August meeting.

Some two dozen members have still not renewed their subscriptions, so at the end of this month they will no longer be members of U3A Todmorden and will not be able to attend any group activities or events.

Our Treasurer, Bill Griffiths, still requires an assistant. Would any interested member please contact Bill or myself; we will welcome any calls.

A plea from member Joan Bentley. Joan handed over a poetry book, in March this year, and cannot remember to whom she gave it; a small red hard backed book by Dr Fitzroy Gregory Joseph. If anyone has the book, please contact me.

Gail Allaby gave her group report, which was followed by our main speaker, Lesley Wood. Her subject: Chocolate – past, present and future.

This was an interesting and very detailed account of the history of chocolate to the present day. Chocolate beans are grown in an area only a few degrees north and south of the Equator. The trees take about 4 years to mature and are “pollinated” by biting midges. Traces of chocolate have been found in pots as old as 3000BC. In some cultures chocolate was used, specially, for betrothal and marriage ceremonies. Mayans used it as currency, perhaps leading to the expression “money grows on trees”? Originally chocolate was taken as a drink. 70% of all chocolate now originates in Africa and some three million tonnes are produced annually. The three types of beans are blended together to give the best taste. Cocoa butter is used to make milk chocolate which it took some 15 years to perfect. On the first evening of ITV, the biggest adverts were for chocolate products. Lesley told her audience that there is great concern about the amount of rain forest land being devastated for the growth of cocoa trees.

Our next meeting will be Thursday 15 September, when our speaker will be Steve Halliwell, and his subject: Moses Holden; Astronomer, Lecturer and Methodist Evangelist.

Ernie Rogan, Chairman.

July’s Monthly Meeting

Chairman’s report members’ meeting 21 July 2016.

Greetings to all members.

83 members and visitors decided not to top up on their Vitamin D and attended our July meeting.

The first few minutes were dealing with an EGM, at which Gill Radford was confirmed, unopposed, as Vice Chair for U3A Todmorden. The committee welcome Gill and look forward to her participation. Gill is a convenor for French and German and will, in September this year, become Mayor of Luddenden Village.

Our Treasurer, Bill Griffiths, still requires an assistant. Hopefully there is a U3A Todmorden member who has experience with financial matters and a little time to spare. Bill or I will welcome any calls.

Our subscriptions for 2016/17 were due on 1 May 2016. Some members have not yet renewed. In accordance with our constitution “the committee may and for good reason terminate the membership of any individual if annual membership is unpaid 3 months after the due date“. This would mean not being able to attend any U3A Todmorden groups or events. I urge all members who have not yet renewed to do so by 31 July 2016.

Our main speaker, David Gilman, gave a fascinating presentation about his trips in the last two years, during which he participated in building a house in Palestine and a community hall in Guatemala. David described how he and about 20 other volunteers acted as labourers to help build a duplex building in Palestine, which now houses five families and 20 children. In Guatemala the building was constructed by filling bags with earth, pounding them down and then securing using barbed wire. All volunteers had to pay to be part of the projects, run by the Amos Trust. A collection was taken at the end of the meeting and £89.06 raised.

Another of our members, Fyfe Sainsbury, followed with an impassioned plea on behalf of the Hebden Bridge Cinema. Flooded in December, the building soon reopened and has been refurbished to a high standard. However, since the floods, attendances have been down. The Cinema is an asset to the local community and features opera, ballet and live shows. Fyfe hopes that the publicity will help swell the audiences.

Jean Pearson, our former Chair, gave the Groups report, Gail not being able to attend.

Our next meeting will be Thursday 18 August, when our speaker Lesley Woods will give a talk on Chocolate – past, present and future.

Ernie Rogan, Chairman.

June’s Monthly Meeting

Greetings. The AGM was organised excellently by Keith Coates, the outgoing Chairman, and Marion Kershaw was returned as Secretary, Dinah Kenworthy as Membership Secretary, and Ernie Rogan became Chairman, there being no other nominations.

So, I am privileged to be the 7th Chairman of U3A Todmorden. Keith has written some words about his 2 years in office. These are attached. Keith has steered a straight course for us the last couple of years and the thanks of the committee go to him for his sterling work. Our membership now totals over 460. Fortunately Keith has agreed to to remain as a co-opted member of the committee, so we will not lose his expertise and experience.
Leaving the committee are Margaret Gunnill, our former Membership Secretary, Liz Hurst, who has been helping our Treasurer, and Jean Pearson, a long time committee member, former Vice Chair and Chair. We will miss their valuable contributions.

We now have a vacancy for Vice Chair and a nomination form and details are attached (for return by July 7th).

Our speaker today, Dr Frank Nicholson gave us a fascinating and detailed presentation into the difficulties of mining ore in Canada. The permafrost causes great problems, as does working in temperatures of minus 15 and below. Dr Nicholson described the growth of the town of Schefferville, around which were huge deposits of iron ore. At its height over 12 million tonnes of ore were mined every year.

On behalf of the committee, thanks to all members for their participation this year and we look forward to the new challenges ahead.

Our next members’ meeting will be on Thursday, 21 July, when David Gilman will be speaking about “Volunteer building projects in Guatemala and Palestine”. Prior to the Members’ Meeting an Emergency General Meeting will be held to elect a new Vice-Chair.

Ernie Rogan, Chairman

May’s Monthly Meeting

We had another well attended meeting this afternoon. There were about 130 present, including 4 visitors.

Our speaker was Gill Russell, who is the Chairman (the term they use rather than Chair) of the U3A North West Region Executive Committee. However, she wasn’t speaking to us about U3A, but about being “A Stranger in a Strange Land”, the strange land being Japan, where Gill and her family lived for 4 years and which she has recently revisited. It was a fascinating and informative talk which emphasised the juxtaposition of traditional culture and the ultra-modern in Japan with many illustrations.

The talk was very well received and clearly captured the imagination of many which was, perhaps, demonstrated by several members speaking to Gill afterwards about the best way to arrange visits to Japan.

gill u3a

World Affairs Group Special Meeting – EU Presentation

The World Affairs group are holding a special meeting on Wednesday June 8th at 2.00 pm  at Roomfield Baptist Church, Halifax Road, which is open to all members. There will be a charge of £1 to cover room hire.

The aim is  to inform and educate members about the EU and the UK in advance of the forthcoming referendum on UK membership of the EU. There will be no speeches for or against leaving and no vote.

There will be a series of short presentations by members of the World Affairs Group on a number of topics. The topics are still being developed and the provisional list below may change.

  • How EU institutions work and where the money goes
  • The political economy of the EU
  • Agriculture and fisheries
  • The development of common standards for the single market
  • What have we got for our EU membership?
  • The future for young people in the EU and the UK
  • The UK and its place in the world

After each topic presentation there will be a short opportunity for questions, but not for speeches expressing opinions. The presenters do not guarantee to answer the questions, as they may not know the answers.

Annual General Meeting

The next meeting on Thursday June 16th is the AGM. Notice of the AGM and Agenda are linked here . It will start at 2.00 pm and will be followed by the usual monthly meeting with a guest speaker who will be Dr. Frank Nicholson. He will be speaking about “Living in the Canadian Sub-Arctic”.

Committee Vacancies

One of the items at the AGM will be election of Officers and Members of the Committee. This year there are three vacancies for : Chairman : Secretary : one Committee Member. If you are interested in any of these positions, or you wish to nominate another member, this Nomination Form has to be returned to the Secretary by June 2nd.

Regards,

Keith Coates

April’s Monthly Meeting

On yet another glorious day 125 members and visitors were willing to forgo their gardening duties to attend our April meeting. 80 members renewed their subscriptions and I would like to thank committee members and volunteers for their hard work in the efficient collection of funds.

After last month’s appeal, we have a volunteer for the post of Membership Secretary, but we still have a vacancy for a committee member.
Following our AGM in 2017, Peter Gibson will be relinquishing his position of Database Controller and Technical Officer so, we will need an experienced computer expert to take over these duties. It could take some time to understand the complexities of this post, so we are looking for a volunteer now.

Short Talk

Sarah Pennie made an appeal on behalf of the Friends of Centre Vale Park who are hoping to secure funding, from the Lottery, for improvements to the park. Regrettably repairs to the bandstand will not be part of this funding. Hopefully Sarah will return to update members on progress.

Main Speaker

Jane Shepherd gave us a most amusing insight into her life. She developed polio at 5 months, yet hers is a tale of positivity. Staying awake at a breakfast meeting became her break into broadcasting. Jane has worked at the World Service, Radio 5, Woman’s Hour and also television presenting. Her anecdotes, asides and self deprecating humour brought many laughs from members. Jane now attends many Benefit Tribunals and supports disabled people whenever possible.

Our next members’ meeting will be 19 May at Central Methodist at 2.00pm when our speaker will be Gill Russell and her subject will be “Stranger in a Strange Land”.

Your committee thank you for your attendance and look forward to meeting you next month.

Our Chairman, Keith Coates, is on holiday: this report compiled by Ernie Rogan, Vice Chairman.

March’s Monthly Meeting

Greetings to all.

On a glorious St Patrick’s day 102 members and 10 visitors attended our March meeting. U3A Todmorden has now reached the milestone figure of 500 members, in just eight years of activity. However, to sustain this growth, we will require to fill two vacancies on the committee at our forthcoming AGM: a potential Vice Chair and the post of Membership Secretary. Margaret Gunnill has to resign because of a medical condition. All members interested in these positions, supporting and maintaining U3A Todmorden, should contact any committee member.

AgeUK

Pam Booth and Ruth Goldthorpe gave a presentation about this organisation and made an appeal for new Trustees to join.

Short Talk

We had a fascinating talk by Hamish Willis about the benefits of cross country walking. Using poles, in the correct manner, after some training, participants would enjoy a better posture, be more active and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Gail Allaby will, for our April members’ meeting, commence a list for members who may be interested in taking up this activity. This list will then be passed on to Hamish. This group would not be part of U3A Todmorden.

Main Speaker

Penny Dean OBE gave a memorable, humorous, positive and uplifting presentation about her life. Penny was born with dwarfism into a tall family: all her siblings are over 6ft. Her mother always encouraged her to be positive and told her she could be whatever she wanted to be. Penny said she met some discrimination at Secondary school, just in her formative years. Visiting a circus, Penny met Arthur, also a dwarf, who was appearing as a clown. Encouraged by her sister, Penny began to write to Arthur and then met him whenever the circus appeared close by. The relationship took its course and Penny and Arthur were married when still quite young. Their first child died at birth, but they have been able to continue and now have three children; two daughters who have excellent careers, and a son: Penny’s description of him raised many laughs.

23 years ago Penny and Arthur started a charity: the Dwarf Sports Association. The Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds is a patron of their charity. Two years ago Penny and Arthur received OBEs from Prince Charles. Penny’s comments were that they were probably the only persons to whom Prince Charles had to bow!! The photograph explained everything.

Despite all the humour Penny described problems associated with dwarfism. The most upsetting, to the audience, were the descriptions of families who have rejected infants, because they have been born as dwarfs. However, Penny has been able to arrange adoption of 15 of these babies into families of both small and normal size.

At the end of the presentation, members were left with the positivity of Penny’s attitude to life and that, perhaps, we should all examine our prejudices.

News Letter

This will be published in May, so Jean Pearson and Christine Richmond are ready to receive snippets of information about any group or matters of interest to all members. I would encourage all convenors and indeed all members to contact Jean at 01706813933 or pearson382@btinternet.com.

The committee thank everyone for their attendance and look forward to seeing even more members at our next meeting, which will be on Thursday 21 April at Central Methodist Church at 2.00pm, when our speaker will be Jane Shepherd and her subject will be “My life as a cabbage – from Polio to TV presenting and beyond”.

Keith Coates, our Chairman, is on holiday and this report was compiled by Ernie Rogan, Vice Chairman.

February’s Monthly Meeting

Dear Members,

We had another well attended meeting at Central Methodists on Thursday last, the 17th February; 122 members and 10 visitors were present. Five new members were recruited, bringing our total membership to 440.

Short Talk

The meeting started with a short presentation by Peter Gibson about Todmorden Talking Newspaper which provides an invaluable service for blind and partially sighted people. Peter is one of several U3A members who give their time to this service. Peter asked that anyone who knows a blind or partially sighted person who may benefit should draw their attention to this free service. He also pointed out that there are articles/features which may well be of interest to a wider audience. Further information and contact details can be found on this web site.

Main Speaker

The main speaker on Thursday was Professor Ian Barclay, who gave a fascinating talk about his experience of exploring the Ice Caves which were found high in the Pyrenees by the French explorer Norbert Casternet in 1926. Casternet explored the caves in detail in 1950 with his two daughters. It was extraordinary to see the “casual” clothing worn by Casternat and his daughters in the extreme conditions which they faced, and to hear of the risks they took in entering unknown caves. Ian’s expedition with his colleagues some 12 years later was in comparison well-equipped.

The presentation covered not only the exploration of the caves but also the geology of the Pyrenees (and an alternative explanation of how Hercules built the Pyrenees from rocks from the surrounding area).

Ian’s clear and entertaining presentation was enhanced by exceptional photographs and was greatly appreciated.

Science Group – Open Meeting

On Monday, March 21st the Science Group are holding a special meeting when Professor Katherine Morris, Manchester University, will be speaking about “Radio Active Waste”. The meeting, which is open to all U3A members, will be at Central Methodists, Todmorden, and will start at 10.00.am. There will be a charge of £1 to cover the cost of room hire.

U3A Todmorden Newsletter

The Newsletter which was published last November was well received by members and it has been decided to produce another one, to be circulated in May. Jean Pearson and Christine Richmond will again be responsible for the production. We hope that members will contribute items to the Newsletter. They may be items of information which may be of interest to the wider membership; others may wish to publish a poetic gem; or you may have comments on what U3A Tod is doing or not doing! If you have any such item of interest please contact Jean Pearson – 01706 813933 – email.

Tod in Bloom Appeal

The Todmorden in Bloom group is seeking volunteers for a community litter picking project which they are planning for March 20th to 22nd. Further details and contact information to follow.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is on Thursday March 17th, when Penny Dean will be speaking about her experience of being “Short in a Tall Person’s World”

Regards
Keith Coates

January’s Monthly Meeting

Dear Members

We got off to a good start with a full house for our first meeting of 2016.

There was a short talk from Daniel Jessop, Volunteer and Events Coordinator at Calderdale Council. Daniel,who has visited us before to talk about the development of the heritage centre at the Town Hall, invited members to take advantage of the opportunities to have a guided tour of the Town Hall and also asked if there are any members who are interested in volunteering as guides (there already U3A members involved in this role) or have memories of the Town Hall which they would like to share. For further information you can contact Daniel on 01706 548105 or 07912 891370 or visit the following web sites:

Visit Calderdale page on Todmorden Town Hall; Virtual Tour of Todmorden Town Hall

The main speaker was Professor Derek Scott, School of Music, Leeds University, whose subject was “Music and Orientalism”. This was a fascinating, informative and very entertaining presentation about the ways (sometimes bizarre ways) in which Western Music has attempted to portray or suggest “orientals”, which in effect meant anything foreign, whether from Spain, Turkey, Egypt, India, or China and Japan. His talk ranged over Mozart, Berlioz, Puccini (and many others including a recording of Rudolph Valentino) through to Chu Chin Chow, Miss Saigon, and, finally, the Pogues. His talk was illustrated not only with recordings, but by Professor Scott’s fine singing voice; and it was, I think, the first time that the grand piano has been used at one of our meetings.

I know from comments which I heard that the talk was much appreciated. Here are the musical scales to which Professor Scott referred in his talk.

Town Twinning Visit to Germany

The Town Twinning Association have some places available on their visit to Bramsche at the end of May and have asked if any U3A members would be interested in joining them on the visit. Details and contact information.

Regards
Keith Coates

December’s Monthly Meeting

Dear Members

On Thursday 17th December we had our last monthly meeting of 2015. It was, as all the year’s meetings have been, well attended.

Refreshments, including the much appreciated “non-alcoholic punch”, were provided by Alison Greenwood and her helpers. We must thank Alison not only for the refreshments on Thursday but for providing them throughout the year.

We must thank Myrna Beet and her team for organising the quiz, which was closely contested. So closely contested that four teams finished with the same score (after an objection to one answer, which was overruled). The winners were decided by the time honoured method of drawing lots.

Afterwards there was a presentation by Andrew Gill (The Lanternist). Andrew, who is a member of Burnley U3A, was making a return visit; he had been guest speaker nearly 3 years ago. He gave us another fascinating and amusing show of Victorian and Edwardian slides which was greatly enjoyed.

The next meeting is on Thursday, January 21st, when Professor Derek Scott will be speaking about “Music and Orientalism”.

I look forward to seeing you then.

In the meantime I trust that you have a Happy Christmas and New Year.

Kind Regards
Keith Coates

Monthly Meeting: Did I See Marilyn?

Last Thursday’s meeting was again well attended in spite of the appalling weather. Our speaker was Allan Stuttard whose subject was advertised as “From Tod to Korea and Back. National Service Remembered”. He caused me some consternation when he arrived and said that wasn’t the title of his talk – it was to be “Did I see Marilyn?”. However, despite the change of title, his talk was about his experiences as a young national serviceman who made his first trip abroad when he was sent to Korea towards the end of what he described as the “forgotten war” which claimed many British lives including two from Todmorden.

As he said, his 5 week “cruise” to Korea would cost a fortune now but a modern cruise liner is probably more comfortable than his troop ship. Alan’s humorous reflections on national service and his time in Korea and Hong Kong (we learned that his presence there on the border of Hong Kong prevented a Chinese invasion – possibly) were enjoyed and appreciated. He revealed that the answer to the question “Did I see Marilyn” was yes – he saw from the back of a huge audience of American soldiers – so far back that he couldn’t be certain that he had seen Marilyn Monroe until he saw a photograph that confirmed it was her.

Kind Regards
Keith Coates

Monthly Meeting: Shibden Hall

The meeting on October 15th was well attended with 127 present (126 members and one visitor). Our speaker, Pat Osborne, presented an illuminating insight into the history of Shibden Hall and particularly the life of its most ‘notorious’ owner, Anne Lister. The presentation was enlivened by Pat’s dry sense of humour. One interesting fact which emerged was the reason that homosexuality was illegal but not lesbianism in the nineteenth century. This was apparently because nobody was prepared to explain lesbianism to Queen Victoria. I suspect that members of the audience were inspired to learn more about Anne Lister with one inquiring about the availability of translations of her coded diaries.

Newsletter

Last month I told you about our U3A Tod Newsletter which will be issued in November. If you have any items for inclusion please contact Jean Pearson – 01706 813933 or by email to pearson382@btinternet.com.

Book Sales

You may have noticed that we did not have the usual sale of second hand books on Thursday. It has been decided that we should stop such sales. With the increasing numbers now attending the meetings we need to have more space for seats, and in any event there has been a major fall in the number of books purchased. Also there is an increasing problem of storing the books, which are accumulating. We will be disposing of the books by giving them to some Charity shops who do sell second hand books.

Report by Chairman Keith Coates

Monthly Meeting: Back Issues

Lynne Midwinter with Chairman Keith Coates
Lynne Midwinter with Chairman Keith Coates

Back Issues

The last meeting of U3A Todmorden involved members in more physical activity than is usual at its monthly meetings. They were encouraged by their guest speaker, Lynne Midwinter, to try out exercises as part of her talk on “Back Issues”, and joined in with enthusiasm.

Chartered Physiotherapist, Lynne, who specialises in the treatment of spinal problems, explained, with graphic illustrations, the structure of the muscular skeletal system and the range of problems which affect so many, not just the elderly.

She went on to emphasise that many of the problems can be prevented by regular exercise and demonstrated simple exercises which should be done on a daily basis to maintain flexibility. Even if a problem has already developed it doesn`t mean that exercise should be avoided – for most climbing stairs is a good thing –not something to be avoided.

The message was if you want to keep it – use it!

The talk clearly struck a chord, possibly a painful one, for many in the audience as was demonstrated by the many questions which it provoked.

U3A Todmorden – AGM

Lynne’s talk followed the Annual General Meeting of U3A (University of the Third Age) Todmorden on Thursday 18 June. The U3A has gone from strength to strength since it was started in 2008. In that first year there were about 40 members; the past year showed an increase from 370 to 415.

Over the year the U3A’s monthly meetings were regularly attended by more than 100 members. It now runs more than 30 interest groups covering a wide range of educational, recreational and social activities. Plans are already in place to add further groups. A new feature in the past year was a very successful short study course on the Magna Carta. It ‘s hoped that further short courses will be developed in the coming year.

Overall the message was – another very successful year.

If you are interested in finding out more, visit the web site u3atod.org.uk or come to a monthly meeting – third Thursday of every month, 1:30 for 2:00 at Central Methodists, Todmorden. Our next speaker on Thursday 16 July will be Geoff Budd on ‘North Korea today: Fact or Fantasy?’

Report by Chairman Keith Coates

India: extremes and contrasts

Speaker Sally Pulvertaft with Keith Coates
Speaker Sally Pulvertaft with Keith Coates

If members and guests attending the May Todmorden U3A general meeting expected Sally Pulvertuft’s talk on India – Extremes and Contrasts to be traveller’s tales accompanied by a plethora of photographs, they were soon disabused. There were a few photos but perhaps more displays were quotes on India from others than herself. Sally has been a businesswoman then latterly an educationalist. She first went to India as a 22 year-old, and was captivated, like so many before and since, from the very start.

There was nothing familiar about the place. It was such a profound experience that she did not visit again for another ten years through fear that any subsequent visit would never live up to that first, life-changing experience. It made her look at the world in a completely different way. This quote might have been written for that first visit. “India is exhausting – it hits all your five senses at once.” Everywhere, Sally said, was surrounded by colour; and much of that is seen in fabric. That, too, is everywhere, lived under and eaten under, as well as on the person. The other thing Sally thought amazing was the people, they too, were everywhere. On a train, hanging off the top; a motor bike going past with ten people hanging on it. And Indians were always smiling and open, ready to engage. She saw bodies carried in the street in the spirit of celebration, as in the Hindu tradition the deceased was moving on and there is an acceptance of this because there is a completely different underpinning of society.

The impact on her, Sally said, could be summed up by a quote of Keith Bellow’s: “There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colours, smells, tastes, and sounds. It was as if all my life I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolour.”

Sally told her audience that she would talk about her travels – she has been going there for 35 years – but also raise questions, as part of her experience of India is that it always raised questions of herself, of our society and things we take for granted. She would also talk about education, the theme that has her keep going back. The first question that was raised in her mind on that first visit came from talking with a young woman. Both Sally and her travelling companion of about the same age had been divorced and talked with a young, well educated Indian woman about her arranged marriage. The young woman challenged them by remarking that the western marriage tradition didn’t work so well as they had both divorced at an early age whilst she was still married.

Sally’s work in education took her back there every few months over a ten year period. She worked with students and supported companies starting up and was able to see the growth of a superpower. She saw cities rising out of the ground; companies with a handful of staff which three months later would have a hundred, three more and they had an office block. Such was the rate of growth. The diversity of India can be summed up by the 120 official languages out of the 780 recognised languages that are spoken. The median age of there is 27, in China 37, in the UK 40. India has a young population as 65 per cent are under 35. This poses a big challenge for education and British universities are supporting the country in trying to build the necessary education infrastructure.

Sally has been working for the last 15 years trying to help build that infrastructure to meet this need. There are English speaking young people, highly educated in a high quality education system, for those that it can reach, who have a naturally external pluralist view and are entrepreneurs. These are the young people British young people are going to be competing with for jobs. The young in India are highly motivated as they see education as the way out of poverty.

Global Connections is a social enterprise organisation that Sally is involved with. It gives “gap years for oldies”, as Sally put it. One of their projects is the Toilet Museum, in the top ten of the weirdest in the world, according to Sally. It was set up by a man who has the mission to provide every home in India with a toilet. He looked at the lot of the Dalit – Untouchables, who had the task of dealing with human waste. He wanted to eliminate the need for that task and to help women who had to go into the fields in the evening if they had no toilet. This made them exposed and vulnerable. The museum shows the work of the project with various designs of toilets that can be used anywhere without the need for drainage and sewers. The waste can be recycled and used on the land for example. There are many examples of social enterprise across India applying practical ways to solve various social problems.

Sally moved on to education and spoke about a project that had increased mature women’s literacy by 25%. Sally thought that amazing but was pulled up short when told that it leaves 300 million women still illiterate. Her most satisfying work, she said, is with Professor Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University. Sally played a couple of minutes of a TED talk that Mitra gave outlining his work. He is most famous for “The Hole in the Wall”, which became the inspiration for Slumdog Millionaire.

Educating children in rural India is a problem as young teachers want to work in the city. Mitra conceived the idea of placing a computer in a whole in the wall rather like an ATM and just leaving it with a camera focussed on it. In three months, illiterate children had taught themselves how to use it and were learning English. Research showed that children learn quicker this way, outstripping children spending the same number of hours in front of a teacher.

The World Bank gave Mitra some money to set up a project to research the use teacherless schools in rural areas as a way of dealing with the lack of teachers. Mitra went on to develop the “School in the Cloud” for which he won $1m dollars TED prize. Mitra recruited retired teachers and other educational professionals to teach English to children in rural India by distance learning on the internet, using webcams. Sally said the project is always looking for more retired teachers to get involved. She said it could also be applied in the country, giving the teaching of apprentices as an example. For perspectives on other aspects of Indian life, Sally recommended a series of essays by Amartya Sen, “The Argumentative Indian”.

Sally’s talk included an amusing family anecdote of driving two tuk-tuks, and how one of her teenage sons adopted the Indian entrepreneurial spirit whilst there. And her talk was interspersed with reflections on the similarities as well as the differences between Britain and India, and what challenges we may expect in respect of our place in the world as we move further into the twenty-first century. Jean Pearson moved the vote of thanks and presented a token of appreciation at the end of a much appreciated talk.

The next general meeting of Todmorden U3A is at 1.30 pm on Thursday 18 June at Central Methodists, Todmorden. Lynne Midwinter of Physiotherapies will speak on Back Issues. Details of group meetings are on u3atod.org.uk or phone 01422 844713 or 01706 839176.

Report by John Bouttell
Picture by Gail Allaby

Chairman’s report June 2015

Today we had two meetings.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held before the normal general meeting. The Minutes of last year`s meeting were approved and the Annual Report and Accounts for 2014-15 were approved. It was reported that there had been another positive year with membership again increasing to 415. The financial position remains very healthy with another small increase in funds . As a result it had been possible to hold the membership fee at the same level for the sixth year. Barring any unforeseen events it should be possible to hold that position for at least another 2 years.

The Vice Chairman ,Jean Pearson ,had reached the end of her 2 year period in office and has stood down from that post. Jean has had made a invaluable contribution .As many of you will recall she was the Acting Chairman for 10 months ,following the untimely death of former Chairman ,David Cross. I am particularly grateful for the support which she has given to me. I trust that Jean will continue to play a major role in her capacity as a convenor and in helping to develop short courses, building on the success of the Magna Carta course which she organised. You may well have seen the references to that course in the recent issue of “Third Age Matters”.

Three other committee members also stood down; Andy Garner;Margaret Gunnill; and Gail Allaby.

The following were elected :

Ernie Rogan as Vice Chairman.

Gail Allaby ; Margaret Gunnill ;and Mary Devereux were elected to the vacant positions.

(I will circulate a full list of the new committee ,including co-opted members, with contact details in the next few days)

The AGM was closed at 2.13pm.

Following the  AGM we moved to the usual General Meeting. The speaker this week was well known to many members through her Physiotherapy Clinic based in Todmorden. Lynne Midwinter, a Chartered Physiotherapist with many years experience in the NHS  and in private practice talked about “Back issues” . This ranged over the various causes of back and other associated problems ;pointing out those most likely to affect our age group . She also outlined the steps which can be taken to help prevent or alleviate such problems. This included an element of audience participation in some exercises. It was an excellent, well illustrated, and humorous  presentation .

The next General Meeting is on Thursday July 16th when Geoff Budd will be speaking on “North Korea –Fact or Fantasy ”.

Kind Regards

Keith Coates

Summat a Nowt

Steve Murty, Peter Carrigan and Keith Coates
Steve Murty, Peter Carrigan and Keith Coates

Members of Todmorden U3A were presented with a different format when the main speaker was introduced at their April general meeting. Peter Carrigan, U3A’s speaker finder, interviewed Steve Murty about the history of Upper Calder Valley, a presentation entitled Summat a’ Nowt. This was at Steve’s request, as he felt more comfortable than facing his audience more directly. Did this mean that Peter had to draw him out? Not a bit of it, in fact, Peter needed to put but few questions, and then usually only to get Steve to give another angle on whatever aspect of life in Stubb he was focussing on.

For it was life in Stubb, the township in which he was born and raised, that Steve related to his audience. Customers of Steve’s motor business new to the area would ask him about the Calder Valley. At the same time, as a member of Hebden Bridge Local History Society – of which he is now Vice-President, Steve began to realise that there was a lot of local history which was held only in the minds of older people and was not being recorded. He set about recording the anecdotes he heard about the past from older people.

Steve’s own situation, living in one of the 17 cottages which comprised Stubb, in which his family had lived in for five generations, lent itself to the kind of research he wanted to do. Sixteen of the cottages were lived in by people in their old age. Those people had memories going back over a century. Some of Steve’s childhood memories aided him, too. When he had just started school he was diagnosed with suspected TB. This meant that although he did not go to school he was not confined to home. So he visited local artisans, farmers and neighbours and heard all sorts of tales of days gone by.

At that time, Steve said, Stubb was in a time warp as there had been no changes to the houses, still with the old ranges with a pot hanging above, rag rugs over flags, not a hint of modernisation. In the fifties, Steve’s parents were unmoved by visitors’ suggestions that they modernise by such steps as knocking out mullion windows and plywood boarding doors then painting over. Others did modernise in similar ways and later replaced wooden window frames with those made in pvc. The whole process, Steve wryly remarked, was largely reversed in later years by the comfortably off offcumdens who moved into the cottages and set about restoring “original features”.

The sinks and the larder were on the cooler, north side of each cottage. Each had a built in cupboard which served to store almost everything they owned when not in use. Floor level would have stored buckets, basins and mixing bowls. The shelf above took pans, kettle, flat iron, etc. Next would hold the cutlery tray and everything to be kept dry – sugar, salt, herbs and important papers. On upwards, the shelves held, crockery, linen, table cloths and any other possessions. All would be hidden from visitors behind panelled doors. Washing was always done on a Monday – protocol was strict – water would be boiled in a tub and a washboard used.

Steve revealed that through examining court records going back as far as 1307 and comparing the cases that his wife related to him in her role as a magistrate, the same kinds of offences committed remained the same over the years. Most of his audience were probably aware of the past existence of the gibbet in Halifax. Steve explained that cloth left hanging to dry was vulnerable to theft so the Halifax wool merchants instituted the gibbet as a deterrent. That was the reason for Halifax being a place to be delivered from in the lines: “From Hell, Hull and Halifax, the Good Lord deliver us.” In Hull’s case, Steve said, it was the risk of being press-ganged that was the reason for avoiding it.

Using his grandfather as an example, Steve illustrated how, despite working 12 hours a day, six days a week as a wheelwright, he found time to work a big garden, with all sorts of fruit and vegetables, and keep hens. His grandfather also played cricket and become a champion at billets. This was typical of the time. People educated themselves and Todmorden was home to a number of experts in botany, archaeology and other disciplines and exchanged papers with others, including academics.

With regard to social mores, Steve surprised no one when he said that years ago children received a clip round the ear, or perhaps the belt for more serious misdemeanours. If a woman received a male visitor in circumstances deemed inappropriate, the community would gather outside the door with pots and pans which would be beaten with increasing speed until the offending male was driven out and chased away. “Rough music” it was known as. The offender was only accepted back into the community if he made an honest woman of the lady concerned, or if he could not, then he was not accepted back at all. Steve observed that if the same practice continued today, there would be no peace and quiet in the valley!

When time forced Steve to bring his talk to a close, Peter referred to a number of aspects of Valley life that were not touched on. Material for a return visit, perhaps. Steve’s appreciative audience no doubt left with that hope in their minds. Some of them bought a copy of Steve’ book, Summat a’ Nowt, available at the meeting. Vice chairman Jean Pearson presented the gift token accompanied by warm applause.

The short talk was given by Daniel Jessop, Volunteer and Events Co-ordinator of Todmorden Town Hall Heritage Centre and Volunteer programme. A new Heritage Centre will be set up and volunteers trained to conduct tours of the Town Hall. The project will include research into the history of Todmorden and the Town Hall; mounting exhibitions, and oral history coffee mornings to encourage local people to share stories about the building’s rich heritage. Those interested in being involved can contact Daniel on 01706 548105; 07912 891370 or email daniel.jessop@calderdale.gov.uk Twitter @TodTownHall

Report by John Bouttell.