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JULY 2021 OPEN MEETINGS (via Zoom)
On 21 July Bernard Lockett, a trustee of the Gilbert & Sullivan Festival, gave us an enlightening talk on the personalities of and influences on Gilbert and Sullivan, and their 25-year collaboration which resulted in 14 musical productions. Gilbert’s clever lyrics highlighted the social issues of the time, while Sullivan’s music softened the critical messages contained in the lyrics. Their popularity was immense, and Bernard Lockett’s knowledge of G&S gave us a wonderful insight into their work. You can watch the talk by visiting our YouTube channel. The excerpts included in the talk may be found at the gsopera.tv website.
On 2 July Alex Wheatle ("the Brixton Bard") talked about his childhood in Shirley Oaks children’s home where he was bullied by both staff and other kids. He learned to read at an early age and later when he was imprisoned for his involvement in the Brixton riots he continued his education through the HMP Brixton library. He spoke calmly and with humour of the humiliations and racism he encountered in his travels around the world, speaking in schools and universities. Modestly, he didn’t mention his award of an MBE in 2008 for his services to literature. There were many questions from the audience, who found his talk inspiring. Alex kindly gave permission for us to record and share his talk on Friday 2 July. You can watch it by visiting our YouTube channel.
JUNE 2021 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Ian Gunn spoke to us on Monday 21 June on the topic of organised crime, under the heading “From Sicily to the Sopranos and beyond”. This was drawn from his many years of experience as a prison governor, working in Scottish prisons with many types of offender. A recording of his talk is available to members - the link is in the July Newsletter.
MAY 2021 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Sophie Wellings kindly gave permission for us to record and share her talk - you can watch it by visiting our YouTube channel.
Sophie Wellings, CEO of Link Age Southwark has previously worked for the Third Age Trust, the parent body of the u3a so is very well placed to discuss possible links with our two organisations.
Link Age Southwark is an organisation aimed at offering practical help to older residents in the borough to enable them to stay healthy and happy in their own homes. It developed after a merger with Southwark churches and the Dulwich Helpline. As yet, adjacent boroughs do not have a similar organisation, a point which was emphasised in discussion.
Link Age offers a one to one befriending service, exercise classes, parties, assistance with shopping, transport to medical and dental appointments, podiatry, otherwise known as happy feet and many other options. It is a dementia friendly organisation and offers support both to sufferers and their carers. A friendly newsletter is circulated 5 times a year. The service users are mainly those aged over 60 who live alone. There are 450 volunteers who support the organisation and at present around 550 service users. Some of the activities have had to go online during the pandemic, and others have had to be modified. Link Age will shortly have a weekly help and information desk in the Tessa Jowell Health Centre at which u3a information could be available.
u3a members who would like to either volunteer or to investigate support for themselves or a friend or relative can contact Sophie on Sophie@linkagesouthwark.org.
APRIL 2021 2nd OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Barry Linton, a u3a member at Thorpe Bay, gave us a very informative and thought-provoking talk on Staying safe online. Sadly, the talk could not be recorded, but important points to emerge included constant vigilance and suspicion of any unexpected email or text messages. Do not open any unusual attachments, or click on any links unless you are certain that the message has come from a valid source. Be aware that WhatsApp groups are also currently being targeted. The need to have really complex passwords and keep them in a safe place distant from the computer was emphasised. For example, passwords that require a capital, numeral and special character – the most common choice is to create a password which starts with a capital, ends with the number 1 and is followed by an exclamation mark! If this resonates with you then perhaps you should create a new password.
All material should be regularly backed up and kept in a safe place, again distant from the computer. Bank cards and passports also should be stored in RFID protective sleeves to prevent contactless skimming and ATMs should be carefully checked before use to ensure they’ve not been tampered with by criminals. Facebook users should consider using security settings that only allow access to their friends. The website haveibeenpwned.com can be used to check if your email has been in a data breach. Remember your email account is your weak spot – many of your other online accounts (shopping, banking etc) will send a reset password email to your default email account – so it needs to have a very secure password.
Barry is a regular u3a speaker, if you missed the talk you may be able to hear him on a regional or national event publicised in Third Age Matters. Please also see the Fraud alerts page on the Thorpe Bay u3a site.
APRIL 2021 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Jenny Mitchell kindly gave permission for us to record and share her talk - you can watch it by visiting our YouTube channel.
Jenny Mitchell’s interactive poetry session on Friday 16 April wasn’t just good – it was brilliant. By sheer coincidence it was the launch date of this prize-winning poet’s newest collection, Map of a Plantation. Jenny’s major interest as a writer is in examining the legacy of British transatlantic enslavement and opening up dialogue about this emotive history. This certainly happened after each beautiful and moving poem, with wide discussion of the relationship between slaves and slave owners in Jamaica. Neil Abrahams created superb slides, so we could read the poems at the same time as Jenny read aloud. There were slightly fewer viewers than usual, partly, I suspect, because this was our first week with more freedom to go out in the sun, but also because so many people were taught poetry badly at school. At least two people’s views were changed by Jenny’s presentation. Map of a Plantation, and her earlier collection Her Lost Language, should be available from all local bookshops.
MARCH 2021 2nd OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
On Thursday 18th March, Paul Wood, author of the book London’s Street Trees (2nd edition 2020) and others including London Tree Walks, gave an illustrated talk at our open meeting about the wide range of interesting trees to be seen in London. Our district is fortunate in the number and range of trees, and Paul started with the Yoshino cherries in Winterbrook Road and nearby (recently at their best with masses of pink blossom). Others featured included a large London plane in Windrush Square, an unusual Amur maple in Railton Road near Herne Hill station, a peanut butter tree in Fawnbrake Road, and the Zelkova (Caucasian elm) on the junction of College Road and Dulwich Common, which somehow survives despite much cutting back. Paul also runs the website The Street Tree where you can learn more and buy copies of his books. D&D u3a have bought a copy of London’s Street Trees which can be borrowed by emailing the Chair
We are very sorry that, owing to Zoom not acting on our renewal of a licence for meetings of up to 500, numbers were capped at 100 and a small number of people were unable to join on Zoom. As Paul Wood is a professional speaker and there is normally a fee for his online talks the recording of the talk is only available to members.
MARCH 2021 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Gaye Illsley kindly gave permission for us to record and share her talk - you can watch it by visiting our YouTube channel.
NOTE: Gaye Illsley is associated with a commercial organisation which specialises in LPAs. D&D u3a does not wish to promote any particular provider of services. There are various guides to help you create your own LPAs free (other than the cost of registration), or you can employ a specialist agency of your choice, or you can employ a solicitor. As in all matters when making a purchase, it is important to shop around, weigh up your options and make the choice which best suits your circumstances.
At our Open meeting on Thursday 4th March, guest speaker Gaye Illsley, a member of Enfield u3a, gave a talk on the Lasting Power of Attorney. She drew on her personal experiences of setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for her family members, clarifying the complex process involved and the legal implications. Her talk was aimed at members who had not yet put in place a lasting power of Attorney or who had an older style Enduring Power of Attorney. She outlined recent changes in the LPA structure with the introduction of two parts - financial and health and welfare. She outlined the processes involved and the three options in completing an LPA. Click here for the presentation - LPA slides
FEBRUARY 2021 2nd OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Alan Blower kindly gave permission for us to record and share his talk - you can watch it by visiting our YouTube channel.
On Thursday 25 February Alan Blower of Merton u3a gave an excellent talk on royal parks and places in south London. Alan is a City of Westminster green badge guide, and is very well informed about the area. His talk was based on a 30-mile cycle ride starting at Wimbledon Common and wending through Richmond and Old Deer Parks to Kew. We then crossed the Thames to Syon Park and House, then along the towpath to Marble Hill House, Ham House and Orleans House. Once through Teddington we reached Bushy Park and Hampton Court Palace, and finished in Home Park. The talk, which was full of interesting history, was beautifully illustrated, and provided a base for several shorter bike rides and walks. Those who were not able to join the zoom talk can catch up with the recorded version. A very enjoyable talk.
FEBRUARY 2021 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Ian McInnes kindly gave permission for us to record and share his talk - you can watch it by visiting our YouTube channel.
We were grateful that Ian McInnes was able to step in at short notice and talk on blue plaques in south London, as our original speaker was unavailable due to family illness. Ian began by giving us an account of the variety of plaques, the commonest in our area being Southwark blue plaques, one of which is currently awarded annually, and the English heritage plaque organisation, started in 1867. Possible candidates for an English Heritage plaque cannot be considered until 20 years after their death.
Ian then divided local plaques into five walks, each walk starting from a local railway station. Sydenham is particularly well supplied with plaques, and three walks all starting from Sydenham Station were described where plaques can be viewed, recognising among others Ernest Shackleton, C S Forester and Enid Blyton. Other station starting points were Herne Hill (John Ruskin), Gipsy Hill (Marie Stopes) and East Dulwich (Boris Karloff). All interesting local walks – see BLUE PLAQUES WALKS page.
JANUARY 2021 2nd OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Dr Mel Ruben kindly gave permission for us to record and share her talk - you can watch it by visiting our YouTube channel.
On Wednesday 27 January our second open meeting talk of the month was given by Dr Mel Ruben, Head of Gifted and Talented, and world literature, at Bromsgrove School. Her title was “Haunted! The supernatural in art”, and Mel approached the subject with infectious enthusiasm which must be so attractive to her students. Mel made the point that the mysterious fears of our nature and the sense of “otherness” are part of the human condition, and gave us a wonderful quote from her daughter: “monsters help us understand the misunderstood”. She emphasised the role of folk tales and fairy tales in the ancient tradition passed on by word of mouth in a non-literate society, and cited novels, plays, cinema and ballet, giving examples of haunting and mysterious events.
A fascinating afternoon during which we were encouraged to “develop our legitimate
JANUARY 2021 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Geoff Pick kindly gave permission for us to record and share his talk - you can watch it (with subtitles) by scrolling to the bottom of this page OR visit our YouTube channel.
On Tuesday 12th January Geoff Pick guided a full complement of members through "John Keats, Hampstead and a Nightingale" the touching story of John Keat's short (1795-1821) hard life, the main characters who featured in it and the house in Hampstead where he occupied a room for two years. Views of the house, his artefacts, furniture and costume illustrated the story. The house has been restored, as far as possible, and now stands as a tribute to John Keats attracting visitors and poets from all over the world.
Also Rob (Shakespeare) sent me this updated link to what the house is doing around the bicentenary BICENTENARY
NOVEMBER 2020 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Peter Ruben kindly gave permission for us to record and share his talk 'A Short History of Revolutions and how they have shaped the Modern World' - you can watch it by scrolling to the bottom of this page.
On Tuesday November 17, over 90 members gathered on zoom to listen to Peter Ruben give his talk on revolutions. Peter began with the example of Paraguay, and went on to emphasise the catalyst trio of high expectations, falling economic growth and perceived deprivation being potent stimuli to revolution. He gave a fascinating history of the great names in revolution and revolutionary theory worldwide, and emphasised that history repeats itself, with few examples of revolutions leading to a happy and peaceful conclusion. This talk was a masterful blend of politics and history which all listening enjoyed. Peter is the son of Pam Ruben, one of our members. If other members have a friend or relative who they would like to recommend as a monthly meeting speaker, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
OCTOBER 2020 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Geoff Pick kindly gave permission for us to record and share his talk - you can watch it by scrolling to the bottom of this page.
On 13th October 2020 Geoff Pick OBE Director of the London Metropolitan Archives addressed us under the title of "Beacons of the Future". This turned out to be a quote from Sherlock Holmes to Dr Watson describing schools created by the School Board of London which is celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year. Geoff went on to give us a fact filled history of the Board which between 1870-1904 was the largest education provider for poor children in London.The Board was huge, 50+ members and many notable figures vied for election. Elizabeth Garrett, Thomas Huxley,Helen Taylor to name a few. Geoff described aspects of the curriculum generally; gardening, housewifery, physical education featured large. The managerial and disciplinary talents of the teachers who taught classes of over 50 were impressive. He then focused on three local schools, Rosendale, Dulwich Hamlet and Goodrich and regaled us with anecdotes from the archives concluding with Rosendale's football team's supporters chant. An educational, thought provoking and entertaining afternoon.
SEPTEMBER 2020 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
Simon Pearson kindly gave permission for us to record and share his talk - you can watch it by scrolling to the bottom of this page.
It was timely of D&D U3A to invite Simon Pearson to talk about his new book Battle of Britain: The pilots and planes that made history (available in local bookshops and online), in the same week as TV channels showed several programmes to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the end of this air battle that affected the outcome of WW2.
Simon spoke empathetically about the personal histories of several pilots, from both sides of the conflict and various nationalities, who fought so bravely. Most of these young men were principally in love with flying, but then found themselves caught up in the nightmare of a conflict they couldn’t escape. He explained how they relied drugs, prescribed by local doctors, to give them the courage and adrenalin to fly many sorties a day and get back up in the air when they knew the odds of surviving were against them.
His short biographies of these eighteen largely unknown pilots, nine from each side, are very moving, making the most of the research material the authors were able to find. Several of the pilots died in action, some were badly wounded and others suffered psychologically. What they had in common was the courage to take risks against formidable odds for the benefit of us all.
FEBRUARY 2020 OPEN MEETING
SIR DAVID NATZLER, the recently retired CLERK TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, spoke on his experiences over the last decade in his post in the Palace of Westminster. David described well the unsettled nature of government over this period with disagreements both within and between the major parties, mainly over Brexit and related issues. He commented on the 'normalisation' of the referendum approach to government and explained to us 'prorogative powers', such as that of the sovereign to dissolve parliament. He warmly commended the youth parliament and their recent report on knife crime. (Is there a role here for the U3A in considering a non party senior group commenting on current issues such as social care and
the elderly?) When questioned, David hoped that in his time in office he had made the house more human, for example by discontinuing the wearing of wigs and formal dress, and by helping new MPs feel at home in the chamber. A really enjoyable and informative meeting.
Geoff Pick - John Keats