Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the meeting by welcoming two prospective new members Les Simpson and Geoff Harrop. Three apologies had been given. Advance notice was given of the Forum’s Christmas lunch on Tuesday 16th December at Ascot House Hotel 12 noon for 1230 and menu’s/payments required back to John Taylor by Tuesday 18th November. A leaflet detailing the visit of a Vulcan Bomber to Robin Hood Airport Doncaster was also mentioned.
The format of today’s meeting was “Members Morning” with a number of Forum Members speaking for a short time on a variety of topics.
The first speaker John Taylor spoke on “A Matter of Language ” which he used to pay tribute to Bill Blades a former Chairman, Member and Head of the Kitchen Team who sadly passed away during the summer. He fondly recalled Bill’s understated for effect sombre manner and humour , talked about his upbringing in Middlesbrough, meeting his future wife and his linguistic skills.
Up next was Richard Wright whose “Pakistani Palaver” detailed his company posting in the late 1960’s/early 70’s to Chittagong East Pakistan with interesting and amusing insights into the Colonial system still in force, the Caste system meaning a large volume of servants and the social life centred around the Club. More seriously he spoke of his experiences of the 1970 Bhola cyclone which was the worst natural disaster in the Region with massive destruction and a death toll exceeding 300,000. He also experienced military unrest between the local Bengali Muslims and Hindu Army exacerbated by the failure to implement the General Election success of the Awani League . It was obviously dangerous times leading to his eventual evacuation following a short period of imprisonment at the hands of the Pakistani Army.
The next visitor to the Lectern was our current oldest member Ken Lupton who entertaining interlude was based on Harry Graham’s “Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes” written under his pseudonym Col. D. Streamer and amused the audience with tales of shooting sisters, drowning grandmothers and putting children into their rightful place in the scheme of things!! He finished with a poem from Robert Graves.
The fourth speaker was the Forum’s own Treasurer Roy Smith an ex Prison Governor whose topic of “Borstal” touched on its post Victorian origins, its mid 20th century heyday based on Public School ethics and a profound change of focus in the 1970’s with the establishment of a Legal Model. Mention was made of the Prison Service’s biggest problem of overcrowding and no doubt these topics could be usefully and interestingly expanded in a larger time frame.
The morning’s talks concluded with former Chairman Malcolm Wood whose subject of “If I Can Help Someone” an ethos based on his family upbringing was illustrated by a story from his working time in a poorer part of Leeds , his interaction with a young toddler and despite being in a very poverty-stricken environment a surprisingly generous reciprocal response from the mother of the child.
Chairman Michael Cochrane thanked all the Speakers for their contributions and was supported by the 31 attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY