Monthly Archives: December 2015


The first half of the Forum’s 39th season successfully concluded with an excellent Christmas Lunch at the Ascot House Hotel enjoyed by a record attendance of seventy-one members and guests.

Chairman Neil Ramshaw welcomed all those attending and grace was conducted by our President Reverend Christine Gillespie. The appreciation and enjoyment of the occasion reflected in the Charitable Collection that took place resulting in an all time high of £370 being raised which will be passed with our best wishes to Harrogate 20th Scout Group who are fund-raising to replace their dated scout hut and who are also an integral part of our Harlow community.

Following the splendid lunch , with many thanks to the hotel , manager , chef and all the staff, the traditional and much-anticipated cabaret was provided by our highly and affectionately regarded member His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson who shared as ever some very amusing anecdotes (not “stories”!!) and provided an entertaining but sideways interpretation on a popular hymn/poem. This sent his audience on its way imbued with the right type of Christmas spirit and in good form for the forthcoming festivities.

Thanks are due as ever to Programme Secretary John Taylor and his wife Margaret for their organisation of this annual event and best wishes and speedy recovery are sent to the aforesaid Margaret who was not well enough to attend today.

The next Forum Meeting is Tuesday January 5th 2016 10 a.m. for 1030 a.m.






Dave Essam was in the Chair for the second time in recent weeks and started the meeting promptly with only one apology having been offered. He was pleased to advise that a record audience of fifty for an all male meeting had gathered.

John Taylor advised members of the final arrangements for next Tuesday’s Christmas Lunch at the Ascot House Hotel with again a record of seventy-six attendees and no further bookings able to be taken. Mike South then spoke eloquently and convincingly on the proposal that Harrogate 20th Scout Group be the beneficiary of the Christmas Lunch Charity Collection and pointed out that the local support from our group would be well received.

Today’s Speaker was the Forum’s own Chairman Neil Ramshaw whose talk was “Let Your Computer Entertain You”. Whilst a somewhat self admitted philistine in technological matters he shared with the audience the types of devices he owns and the different functions he makes use of. This ranged from E/Mails, On-Line Banking and Shopping, E/Readers for Newspapers and Books, Comparison sites for Insurance, Holidays etc. and his use of web sites particularly You Tube which support his interest and enjoyment in clips from Sport, Music, Films and T.V. Over the course of his discourse he touched upon a number of his own favourites which included Olympic mishaps, Fenton the “Rodeo Dog”, quirky T.V. Adverts, Jimmy Durante and Harry James concluding with the enduring quality and appeal of the Diamonds and their hit record “Little Darlin'”. A number of pertinent questions and comments ended the session.

Dave Essam Acting Chairman proposed the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the fifty in attendance.



Chairman Neil Ramshaw started the meeting prompt at 1030 a.m.welcoming attendees and advising of five apologies.

Roy Smith ( Treasurer ) made a short address to the audience regarding mislaid property. Members were advised that Christmas Lunch ( December 15th ) was now fully booked and the Chairman asked for suggestions regarding the Christmas Lunch Charity collection to be advised to him or John Taylor. Peter Belton had advised that one of the recipients of last years collection an African girl studying with his daughter was now at Johannesburg University.

Today saw the return of a regular and much-anticipated Speaker Professor Martin Curzon whose talk was titled “Arts & Crafts of the Desert Indians”. This proved to be an entertaining and informative narrative about the Pueblo Indians of South West U.S.A., an area the Speaker had spent about seven weeks touring around. He spoke to us about their traditional arts and crafts which include Weaving, Jewellery, Baskets, Kachino’s ( dolls ) and Pottery. The point was made that their arts were based on what related to their natural culture and environments. Geographically the area comprised Arizona and New Mexico where around 3000,000 Navajo still live. In original tribal lands the Anasazi’s ( cliff dwellers) lived on top of the Grand Canyon and came from Siberia over 3,000 years ago into lush and fertile living conditions. Climate change was taking place though which led to less hospitable conditions–much drier, hotter. Further significant changes occurred in 1541 with the appearance of the Spanish Conquistadors who came up from Mexico consisting mainly of hot-headed cavaliers looking for adventure and the fabled El Dorado!! They brought many negative issues such as death, disease ( smallpox; measles ), looting and missionaries but on the positive side introduced horses, sheep, iron and smelting techniques which extended the range of arts and craft products. The various tribes in the area included Hopi, Apache, Navajo, Acomi, Zuni and Taos all bringing their own individual design to their various arts and crafts based on subjects such as Water, Migration, Lightning, Birds and Friendship. These various designs can be seen in their attractive jewellery ( mainly Navajo, Hopi and Zuni ) and the use of Turquoise,Opal, Pink Coral etc in their production of Stones. South West Clay Pottery was interestingly designed without the use of a wheel ( not invented by North American Indians–no need for it!) and by using a coil method in their creation. Basketry was made mainly from Yucca plants and the Weaving of Rugs and Blankets from wool. Quilt Design was introduced by missionaries and Kochina’s (Wooden figures–Dolls ) had an impressive array of designs and sizes. The talk was well backed up by impressive slides showing pictures and facts along with examples of baskets passed around the audience to examine and books relating to the subject matter available for perusal. Questions and comments followed the conclusion of the  speech.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Vincent Naylor on behalf of the 39 attendees.