February 2018: Our guest speaker at the February Probus ’83 lunch was John Bryant. John’s career started working on the British Rail ferries operating out of Dover and then latterly as Headteacher at a Primary School.
John’s talk began by introducing us to the Norwegian shipping line Hurtigruten which operates out of Bergen with a daily service up the Norwegian coast into the Arctic circle and round the north coast to the Russian border. The shipping line was established nearly 125 years ago and for nearly 100 of those years it was the primary means of mail communication for the 37 ports of call many of these being remote communities. Nowadays much of the mail service has been given over to airline services but the shipping route still continues to provide an important and significant mail service. John illustrated many of the ships that have served on the route.
John’s talk was amply illustrated with some excellent photographs, the last part of the talk showing us the principle ports of call and the scenery to be enjoyed en route. Bergen and Trondheim are particularly attractive towns and some time spent in these towns is very worthwhile.
January 2018: Our speaker, David Skillan, gave us an excellent illustrated talk on Lincoln at Gettysburg. So much has been written about the subject, and all attendees probably had some knowledge of what occurred, but David managed to weave an incisive series of facts into a wonderfully entertaining 30 minutes. A good sign of appreciation is the number of questions posed – and these came thick and fast.
December 2017: On December 7th well known speaker and harpist Margaret Wilson not only played some exquisite pieces, but entralled everyone present with a detailed insight into harp construction and the challenges of playing.
November 2017: On November 3rd: Club AGM
October 2017: On October 5th Phil Holt bravely combined two of his regular presentations at our request to give a talk: "Across the Lake: Donald Campbell and Bluebird". Donald Campbell followed in the footsteps of his father, Sir Malcolm Campbell, as a land and water speed record holder, becoming only man ever to break both records in a single year. Phil traced the record breaking careers of both father and son, both colourful characters, up to Donald's 300 mph mishap on Coniston Water in 1967. The 2001 successful search for Donald Campbell and Bluebird, undertaken with daughter Gina's permission, and the ongoing restoration of Bluebird for public display were then described.
September 2017: On September 7th gave a talk: "Naval Aviation Carriers and Aircraft 1945-2012".
August 2017: On August 3rd Andy Thomas gave a talk: "The English History of Freedom".
July 2017: On July 6th Dr Colin Summerhayes, Emeritus Associate of the University of Cambridge Scott Polar Research Institute, returned by popular demand to give a talk entitled: "Earth's Climate Evolution from Noah's Flood to Ice Cores". Dr Summerhayes traced the the history of the Earth's climate and how and why it had changed over thousands of years. Considering more recent history, he explained why global warming was believed to be a consequence of human activities, while examining alternative explanations.
June 2017: On June 1st Walter Happy recalled his RAF National Service experience, explaining why his NCOs called him "The Lazy Toad in Blue".
May 2017: May 3rd was one of our biannual ladies' invitation lunches which included a talk "Medieval Women" by Rupert Matthews.
April 2017: On April 6th Wilf Lower spoke about the "Lost Empires"; not the end of the British Raj or anything of that nature, but the rise and demise of the once popular "Empires" music halls. Wilf's father died when he was young and his mother became a theatrical landlady in the Medway towns to make ends meet. His mother's lodgers included many music hall comedians and others who subsequently became household names. The talk revealed much about what these people were really like and about the demands and realities of their profession.
March 2017: On March 2nd David Williams, returning by popular demand, gave us another of his excellent talks, this time on "Crimea: Then and Now". David knows the Crimea well, having been a regular visitor, and has good local contacts. He is also well versed in Russian history, distant and recent.
Members were treated to an overview of five centuries of Russian history with a particular focus on the Crimea. Apart from being very well researched and presented, this helped the listeners to better appreciate current and historical mind set, geopolitical sensitivities and recent actions.
The scope included such diverse topics as: Czars being murdered by their own sons and other Russian royal irregularities, Russian territorial expansion in the 19th and 20th centuries, a former nuclear submarine base in the Crimea, the Potemkin Steps and the Putin family.
February 2017: On February 2nd David Rose, local historian and prominent Guildford Dragon talked to members on the subject of the “Guildford War Years”. Guildford seems to have been a relatively safe place during the Second World War. Some people were killed and more injured but there seems to have been no targeted air raid. Bombs did fall but these were probably either jettisoned or “left over” and not wanted on the journey home.
January 2017: On January 4th Brad Ashton, a comedy writer, entertained members with a talk entitled: "The Job of a Laughtime". Brad started proceedings with a self mocking joke. He had tried his hand at telling jokes instead of writing them. The feedback was that, while some managed to be great comedians with lousy materials, he had managed that in reverse. Brad's listeners soon had good reason to doubt that. What followed was a remarkable flow of jokes, anecdotes and perceptive comments concerning anybody who was (or had been) anybody in the comedy business, often interacting with his audience.