Meeting report

04 September 2017

John Hicks

Top marks to Carolyn Skerrett who, with only a day’s notice, took command as Toastmaster, and successfully reorganised the agenda. She even managed to squeeze in a rant from Buck Buchanan, who had previously been assigned the General Evaluator role. But permit me to have my little rant first:

How much easier it would be if we all checked Easyspeak occasionally in the week preceding a meeting and … 1. Registered whether we are going to be present or not, and … 2. Volunteered for any unfilled roles - rather than expect someone else to chase us up.

Helen Peate’s speech “Discover Your Inner Centre” was a well-structured and well-delivered gem. She posed the question: “What sort of person are you?” Her mission was to help us “find ourselves”. She toyed with us, first by letting us to choose from a box of Cadbury chocolates she passed around, and then by making character assessments based on our choices. For instance, those who prefer milk chocolate “live in the past”, but those who prefer bitter chocolate are “connoisseurs of fine things, but tend to be dictatorial”. She then listed the character traits associated with the different chocolate centres: from almonds to Turkish Delight. Those who choose the latter, it seems, are on a “spiritual quest”. [Or a one-way ticket to diabetes?] I loved the tongue-in-cheek [I hope!] psychology behind Helen’s speech.

Vita Tasman’s “My Trip Overseas: Part 2” was entertaining in an entirely different way. Vita spoke of her acting career, doubling as Baba Yaga (a terrifying crone who eats children) and the Snow Queen. Her setting was Siberia, at -53 degrees, in a vast hall and while contending - between costume changes - with a ferocious wild dog! Vita is an accomplished speaker and she brings some fascinating cultural diversity to our meetings.

Buck’s rant about TV drivel and automatic telephone answering technology (“are you a real person?”) had us – between sympathy and laughter - sharing his pet hates.

After the break, Table Topics Master, Stephen East, insisted we stick to the topics he had selected, no matter whether we told the truth or lied in the process. Each story was put to the vote: true or false? No-one escaped Stephen’s examination: Craig Hickford’s baldness and Simon Mortimer’s first experience of intoxication were duly exposed. Buck told us about a crime he had supposedly committed, and we learned the strange truth about how he was recruited into the army. Carolyn’s version of how she lost her bikini while being dragged behind a boat, by contrast, could have happened – but didn’t. Likewise, Helen’s story, about how she convinced a traffic officer to forgo writing her a speeding ticket: the party and her claims to have married him … all false. Nicola Powell’s first kiss was a gross experience (true, apparently) and Mahima Rastogi’s happy first date turned out to have been “half-true”. Which part Mahima?

Last night was Nicola’s first time as General Evaluator. It was a real step up for her and she did a great job. She deserves a proper kiss.