Anyone looking at EasySpeak prior to this meeting might have wondered how order could proceed from such a potentially sparse agenda. However, Toastmaster Lloyd is a firm believer in FID (first in the door) allocation of duties and, as we arrived, we were skilfully cajoled into roles we may, or may not have secretly coveted or dreaded. Helen Peate's partially successful struggle with modern technology (a mobile phone) as Timer was testament to the latter. S@A David Preston set the tone with his warm welcome. A highly entertaining evening ensued.
Our first speaker, Peter Hegarty, broke the unspoken rule about avoiding the contentious issues of politics, religion or sex with a talk about his Catholic upbringing. We learnt about inherited guilt; being "taught and terrorised by brothers, priests and nuns"; and some secrets of the confessional where Catholics can play the "get out of hell free card". In fact, he assured us, most of his early sins were lies that he told in the confessional to appear convincing. Later there was Peter, the altar boy, "with pimples glowing" getting the "stare of death from Father O'Sullivan".
This was a wonderfully humorous speech with many memorable quotes, but I am doing Peter an injustice if I give the impression that he was in anyway disrespectful to his religious upbringing. He was proud of the Christian standards imposed on him; and those who had imposed them on him were, for the most part, thoroughly decent and well-meaning individuals. His message was that we still need religion, it is just a shame that the corrupt minority of church officials have discredited the majority.
Adrienne Malis, was welcomed back from her holiday in South America and filled in as Bard with three intriguing Peruvian folk tales.
TTM Michael Shand had some random photographs clipped from magazines which he imagined his victims had on their work desks. They were invited to explain why.
Tom Fuller had no difficulty with his photo of Donald Trump - this was the man who, within 6 months was going to lead us into our first nuclear war. Then he changed tack and suggested it is better to look up to a man with no hair for virility and potent leadership. Lloyd and any other man (including this writer) with a decent head of hair could have been mortified by this bald declaration (i.e. declaration from a bald man) but for our innate tolerance. The Lloyd/Tom battle of wits continues ...
David Preston liked his picture of a scenic beach but he didn't have a desk and disdained effete people who did. Furthermore, his picture was marred by the presence of humans, or their footprints and from there on his TT morphed into the tirade of an antisocial misfit ...
Emma Garlick's picture led to her epiphany about banoffee pie - yes, indeed, banana and toffee! Vita Tasman raved about the happy fisherman in her picture (the fish didn't look so happy); and Helen transported us to Italy and the sporting Italian who gropingly protected her from an attack of bird phobia in St Mark's Square. Mobile phones and birds are the only weak spots in Helen's armour. (But what of Italians in her amours?)
Stephen East's General Evaluation struck the perfect balance in being both humorous and instructive.
At the end of the meeting Adrienne, speaking as our new president, focused on her enjoyment of our meetings, the laughter she had shared with us and her optimistic vision for the future of the Shoreline club.
Finally, a big thank you to Vita. (Vita's baking is deliciously unhealthy.)