Monthly meetings articles

Monthly meeting articles

Meeting reports - April - July 2022

Bobbie Darbyshire - April

Bobbie won the 2008 fiction prize at the National Academy of Writing and the New Delta review Creative Nonfiction Prize 2010. She has worked as a barmaid, mushroom picker, film extra, maths coach, cabinet minister's private secretary, care assistant and volunteer adult literacy teacher as well as in social research and government policy. Her talk was lively, interesting and full of inspiring quotes from other authors, such as 'We should be continually jumping off cliffs and developing wings on the way down' - Kurt Vonnegut.

Jane Glennie - May

Jane is an actress and historian with 30 years of experience bringing history to life in museums, theatres, heritage sites and u3a meeting venues! Her talks are stand alone theatrical performances using original and replica objects and costumes to illustrate the talks.

At our meeting she appeared dressed as Catherine Dickens and described her happy married life to the great writer and the terrible way it ended. Jane conveyed the injustice of his treatment of his wife and the genuine sadness of Catherine. It was an outstanding performance and very moving.

Martin Lloyd - June

Passports, Assassins, Traitors and Spies was the title of the talk at June's monthly meeting The speaker, Martin Lloyd, had worked for the HM Immigration Service for 24 years. He now appears on television and gives talks on the radio and to groups. He told stories of how three passports have played their influential role in the course of history: an attempted assassination which altered the regulations for issuing passports; the capture of a spy which caused a worldwide modification to the design of the document and for one person the passport itself which turned into a killer.

Andrew Negus - July

By popular demand, Andrew Negus came back to us for a 4th time to tell us about his travels in the Far East. The talk was as full of anecdotes and humour as ever and included some adventures such as meeting some Komodo dragons but avoiding being eaten by them! In addition he saw the largest Buddhist temple in the world - the Lotus on the Lake, built in 800 AD. He visited the live volcano Mount Bromo and was offered boiled eggs from a volcanic pool. While he was in Java he was warned not to put any valuables in his trouser pockets because thieves would come and slash the trouser leg just below the pocket, remove your wallet and you wouldn't feel anything until you noticed blood trickling down your leg! Andrew Negus found a way round this by putting a row of safety pins below the pocket. He was not robbed!
He returned to the UK via Australia where he camped in the bush and saw the Gloucestershire Lookout Tree, used for spotting forest fires and with strong pieces of wood driven into the trunk so that people could ascend.

He crossed the desert from Perth to Adelaide on the Nullabar train which is the longest straight railway in the world and his wine box was confiscated, much to his annoyance. What a memorable trip!

Maggi Bridgman

John Pitman - A life on the stage

Our November speaker was a lifelong amateur performer on the stage and an author of several novels. He was a very entertaining raconteur and kept us smiling throughout his talk.

He told us how a rabbit which had been shot dead and stuffed was used in the first play which he took part in. For many years before he took to the stage properly, he competed in ballroom dancing competitions, achieving bronze, silver and gold medals. He then joined the Winchester formation dance team but his dance career was cut short by meeting his wife to be, getting married and having two children!

In 1982 he started appearing in Pantomime and was a success as The dame. He also ventured to play Buttons in Cinderella.

We learned that amateurs are permitted to sing selections of songs from up to date musicals but are not allowed to perform them. John's daughter also takes part in the shows now.

A lot of his performances took place in Otterbourne Village Hall. Unfortunately, in recent times, He has found it increasingly difficult to remember his lines so has decided that it is time to leave the stage.

At the end of the talk he encouraged his audience to join him in singing such songs as 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do' and 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles', and the singing wasn't bad!

Maggi Bridgman

Owls about town

Andy Kendall, who runs 'Owls About Town' with his wife, Zsi, in Selsey brought several of his owls to our November meeting and it proved to be a fascinating afternoon. The owls all looked interested in what was going on and various people were allowed to hold the smaller owls, which caused much excitement.

Catherine Britton

Andy was invalided out of the army and unfortunately became homeless. He lived alone in a rural setting and began to adopt rescued owls. Often they had been bought as presents for children who were unable to care for them and they were in need of a new home. Andy developed an affinity with them. He met his wife and they started the business, 'Owls About Town'. They attend many venues and events, such as Residential homes, charity events, schools, birthday parties and team building sessions. They also run individual experiences and attend fĂȘtes and fairs. Good animal welfare is very important to them - they are all fed on a healthy diet and they travel in purpose built boxes. It is an original way of ensuring that the owls are well cared for while members of the public experience interaction with these wonderful creatures.

Maggi Bridgman

Photos by Hannelore Hone