Meeting report

26 June 2017

John Hicks

The meeting theme was “Win or Lose?” and, this morning, that question was answered very favourably for New Zealanders. But beware, the joy of winning is likely to be - to use the word of yesterday – an ephemeral one. As your toastmaster, I was pleased to see my beautiful ephemeral flogged to the point of death by last night’s enthusiastic participants. I am also happy to record a good attendance, with two guests: Malima and Kate.

We enjoyed a very full programme with three excellent speeches and an artistically challenging table topics session. Adrienne Malis, with “That Wretched Evening”, skilfully racked up the tension with an embarrassing episode from her student days when, to make ends meet, she took on a job as a nude model for life drawing classes. Unfortunately, this was an employment option she had not previously disclosed to her mother, who with a troop of arty friends, accidently stumbled on her at work - naked as the day she was born! Adrienne’s evaluator, Simon Mortimer, was spot on when he described this as a simple story, told well … in my opinion, told very, very well and without recourse to notes.

Alison Scott’s speech “Looks like we made it”, was an inspiring follow-up to earlier speeches she has given about Oskar, her son, who has Down’s Syndrome. Oskar has been under the care of the Feuerstein Institute in Israel. Professor Feuerstein discounts any notion that intelligence is fixed for life. He has developed techniques that exploit the inherent neuroplasticity of the brain to enhance intelligence.  Ali’s message was to ignore the doomsayers and be positive, even if they think you are mad! It was heart-warming to learn of Oskar’s remarkable progress so far; to the point where he is looking to the future and showing interest in a career.

Carolyn Skerrett is working from the “Facilitating Discussion” manual and, with “Ageing Parents”, that is precisely what she set out to do. She organised us into two groups to discuss this guilt-laden responsibility, which most of us face at some time in our lives. There was some animated discussion, both in the group representing children who live at a distance from their parents, and the group representing those who live in close contact with their parents. To conclude, Carolyn skilfully brought the two sets together and drew from us a variety of points-of-view. The whole exercise was well managed, with everyone actively involved. This was a refreshing challenge that took us out of our usual meeting routine.

Tabletopics master, Helen Peate brought colour to our meeting with an array of paintings from her collection and eight of us were summoned to comment on them. Vita Tasman correctly identified a stylised depiction of a butterfly’s wing and Simon’s grey on grey daubs turned out to be the storm he thought they might be. Ali’s "Many Lovers" however, were representations of a view through a wet windscreen. What would a Rorschach test on Ali reveal? It doesn't bare (intentional spelling mistake alert) thinking about! But perhaps I have no right to cast aspersions. Alas! The picture I claimed to have painted during a hangover - “Hormonal Insouciance” -  did not feature pubic hairs and happened to have been painted by one of Helen’s daughters. I could be in mortal danger, so perhaps it is a good thing that Helen will soon be winging to the dreaming spires of Oxford and I shall be out of harm’s way. In mitigation for my gaffe, I wish her a happy holiday.

Best wishes also to Lloyd Bathurst who is taking a break for few weeks.

Next week we meet under the auspices of our new president and TM for the evening, Michael Shand. Please help him by signalling your attendance etc. on EasySpeak.