Meeting report

23 January 2017

John Hicks

There was a good turnout for the first meeting of the year, which was quite a surprise judging from my prior check with EasySpeak. A Sergeant-at-Arms (David Preston), a Table Topics Master (Vita Tasman) and, indeed, a Toastmaster (Helen Peate) materialised from nowhere. All are to be congratulated for their hasty contributions to a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Michael Shand’s speech fully met its objectives (“Make Them Laugh” from the Entertaining Speaker Manual). The title was “Travel – A Rearwards Glance”. Michael praised the ability of travel to broaden our experiences. He told of the naïve traveller who was disappointed to discover that there were no canaries on the Canary Islands, but when he went to the Virgin Islands he was further disappointed to find that there were no – big pause – canaries there, either! [Our dear TM was clearly captivated by this joke and, surprise! surprise! She is not a virgin.] The rest of Michael’s speech amounted to an entertaining sensory (olfactory, visual, auditory, tactile etc.) critique of public toilets in Poland, Morocco, the USA and Canada: from Paris pissoires to his favourites: the paperless toilets of Japan. A hint here for male members (males’ members?) do not hit the female button!

The person wearing my name tag then spoke to “Make Them Laugh” from the Humorously Speaking Manual and was relieved that this objective seemed to have been met for my rather unorthodox recommendations on how to discipline children. E.g. thrashing them “to within an inch [= 2.5 cm] of their lives” may have been a useful way of introducing them to measurements of length, but is no longer permitted.

I have learned that Vita’s excellent Table Topics were plucked from her husband’s mind while she was cooking his dinner. She had only learned she was to be TTM an hour before the meeting and the exchange with her hubby was easily negotiated on the premise that he would go hungry if he didn’t co-operate. This joint effort resulted in some truly amusing performances. I particularly enjoyed hearing David playing with “Where there 2 million at Donald Trump’s inauguration party? Buck took a contrarian viewpoint with “Did Hitler escape to South America”. New member Ella (who has joined so recently that I have to apologise for not including her surname) convinced us that dark matter does exist with an hilarious enactment of her fear of the dark. Helen got tied up with bird phobias and didn’t appear too keen on Moas; Lloyd Bathurst’s chemistry proved a bit rusty when it came to discussing hydrogen as a fuel for engines; Adrienne Malis’s physics likewise with “Is black a colour?” There was a cameo from our Timer for the evening, Simon Mortimer, linking the demise of the New Year’s Eve countdown to the disappearance of the “Goodnight Kiwi”. Lastly, we had a promising introduction from Anna (one of our two guests).

Before Ryan Chappell’s GE, Adrienne, as Bard, read from one of the world’s best laugh-out-loud, self-deprecating authors: Bill Bryson.

What better way to cap off an evening of laughter?

Since I am to be TM in a couple of weeks and perhaps lack Helen’s versatility, I would make a plea – if possible - for members to log on to EasySpeak in advance of meetings and place a tick or cross beside their name on the attendance list, and to indicate whether they want to accept or decline the role/s allocated to them. This helps the TM enormously. Next week’s TM is Lisa Todd but, as I write this, only the role of GE is filled; every other role is followed by a ?