Dulwich & District


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JULY 2022 MEMBERS' MEETING (at the Francis Peek Centre and via Zoom)
Our guest speaker on 20 July was Anne Coates, the local author of a sequence of novels, set in the 1990s in London and sometimes in East Dulwich where Anne lives, and featuring the investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge. Anne was herself a professional journalist and told us how she had written the first book in the series Dancers in the Wind in the 1990s, inspired by an interview she had undertaken with a prostitute in the King’s Cross area. The book did not find a publisher at the time but she found her original manuscript in 2015 and it was published in 2016 – followed by four more novels so far: Death’s Silent Judgement (2017), Songs of Innocence (2018), Perdition’s Child (2020), and most recently Stage Call (2022). Anne is already working on another! A lively question-and-answer session included several members of our Creative Writing group. Dulwich Books (6 Croxted Road, London SE21 8SW) ran a stall at the meeting, and the books are available there and from (as the saying goes) all good booksellers. The talk was recorded and you can view it on our YouTube channel here ANNECOATES.

JUNE 2022 MEMBERS' MEETING (at the Francis Peek Centre and via Zoom)
Our guest speaker Peter Ruben, Deputy Head Academic at Bromsgrove School (and son of one of our founder members), spoke on the political and economic history of Russia, covering a millennium of history from the Vikings to the invasion of Ukraine, including expansions of territory by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century, Peter the Great in the 17th century and Catherine the Great in the late 18th century, and the 19th century expansion to the east - a fascinating talk by an obvious master of his subject! Peter spoke via Zoom at the November 2020 monthly meeting on the subject of ‘Revolutions’, and this time kindly travelled all the way from Bromsgrove to speak to us in person.

See our AGM page for details of the Annual General Meeting held on 26 May.

More than forty members met on 21 April at the Francis Peek Centre in Dulwich Park for a members’ tea party. We all enjoyed tea, coffee, yummy cakes and fruit kebabs served by a willing team of committee members who happily introduced everyone.
The weather was great, glorious spring sunshine meant it was warm enough for people to sit outside, and the venue was large enough for those who preferred to stayed inside to be able to sit comfortably two metres apart.
Display boards and a video advertised D&D’s various groups and forms were available for new members to complete. It was great to be able to meet in person people we had seen only from the waist up on Zoom over the past two years! Life will possibly never be 'normal' again as we were used to, but D&D u3a is certainly doing a great job getting us all together.

MARCH 2022 OPEN MEETING (via Zoom)
On Wednesday 23 March Geoff Pick, a Dulwich & District u3a member and former Director of the London Metropolitan Archives, gave a well illustrated Zoom talk introducing us to the building, treasures, library and gardens of Lambeth Palace. Built in the 13th Century, it has been the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his family for 800 years. The gardens have recently been made open for tours. The talk was recorded and members can access it on the D&D u3a YouTube channel by clicking here LAMBETHPALACE

FEBRUARY 2022 OPEN MEETING (at the Francis Peek Centre and via Zoom)
Who has done more for health? The Doctor, Scientist or Engineer? This was the question that Prof David Perrett posed to us at our monthly meeting on 15 February. Prof Perrett took us through the causes of premature deaths such as tuberculosis, cholera, smallpox, influenza and more recently polio, Ebola and of course, COVID-19. He traced the slow progress made in the past in recognising the need for public health facilities such as clean water and national sewerage disposal systems, which only commenced in the 1850s, as well as the initial opposition towards vaccinations. In contrast our generation has benefited from new medicines and drugs, x-rays, scanners, molecular biology, and much more, and Prof Perrett left it to his audience to decide who played the greater part in providing the good health we enjoy today, the doctor, the scientist or the engineer.
You can view Prof Perrett’s lecture on the D&D U3A YouTube channel by clicking here MOREFORHEALTH

JANUARY 2022 OPEN MEETING (at the Francis Peek Centre and via Zoom)
On Thursday 27 January the Revd Nicholas Henderson spoke on how to ‘read’ the English Country Church, from pre-Christian times to the Tudors.
He looked at the architecture of churches, inside and out: church furniture, the mysterious nooks and crannies within, and the doors and staircases that went nowhere. He explained how these changes had come about as English history unfolded. His talk was illuminated with a wonderful slide presentation showing churches in Canterbury, Glastonbury, Colchester, St Albans, Chichester and dozens more. They showed how the churches had changed and what lay behind the changes.
The presentation managed to condense 1,500 years of history, architecture, and cultural change, into a fascinating talk.
The recording is now available on YouTube by clicking here: COUNTRYCHURCHES

NOVEMBER 2021 MEETING (via Zoom)
On Wednesday 17 November Brad Ashton, a recently retired international comedy scriptwriter who has written for entertainers including Bruce Forsyth, Frankie Howerd, David Frost, Tommy Cooper, Dick Emery and Bob Monkhouse, gave an entertaining talk "The Job of a Laughtime".

OCTOBER 2021 OPEN MEETING (at the Francis Peek Centre and via Zoom)
We were really pleased to welcome Alan Johnson, author, former MP and Government minister, on Thursday 7 October. For many of us Alan’s life ran parallel to our own. We were entertained by his enlightening accounts of events in his political and literary life. Alan’s love of the Beatles and Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club also shone through in this most entertaining talk. His political career included being Labour MP for Kingston-upon-Hull and Hessle, as well as Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Education. As a young man, he had always wanted to write, and his literary career was encouraged by his inspirational teacher, Peter Carlin, to whom he dedicated several of his books. Many of us were also in awe of his facility to quote lines of poetry which he liberally sprinkled at the drop of a hat throughout his talk! Alan has just published his fifth book, The Late train to Gipsy Hill, a novel (after four biographical books) - which he has dedicated to Peter Carlin, now 96. During his service in Government, Alan had been chauffeured around in a government car but when in opposition, he had to commute by train. When travelling from Gipsy Hill to Westminster he was amazed to see young women applying complicated and multi-layered make up while travelling on a moving train. This gave him the inspiration for The Late train to Gipsy Hill.

SEPTEMBER 2021 meeting at Bell House: Poetry under the Skies
Jenny Mitchell enjoyed her Zoom session with us in April so much she suggested we repeat it in the open. On 9 September around 50 people, members of both
u3a and Bell House, sat socially distanced under gazebos in the beautiful gardens of Bell House. The afternoon was different from the Zoom one as it included an Open mic session. Three members of our u3a were among the performers, Jenny had invited two other poets, who added to her own poems. The rain held off, in the nterval we walked round the gardens, chatted to the poets and bought books. Warm thanks to Jenny for a brilliant afternoon.

On 4 August Peter Cox spoke on the topic of John Lewis: Past, present, future?
Peter, a member of North London u3a, worked for many years as Director of Information Services at John Lewis and has written a biography of John Spedan Lewis, its founder. He spoke eloquently of its history, how the shareowning and other democratic policies guaranteed staff loyalty, leaving many of us who were - and
are - dedicated John Lewis shoppers wishing the future of such stores seemed more positive. Peter is leading a project exploring the future of the
high street. The session ended with an interesting question and answer discussion.
You can watch the talk on YouTube by clicking here: John Lewis.

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.

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, 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’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.

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)
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.

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)
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

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

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 news@dulwich-u3a.uk

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.

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.

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.

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.

Geoff Pick - John Keats