May 2010 meeting - Last Wednesday, Miss June Allen gave us a thoughtful talk on her 15
years spent working for the Colonial Office tutoring the local girls. There was a lot to contend with such as Poverty, Water and Air-borne Diseases and Malnutrition.
Some of the experiences she encountered when visiting some villages were quite hairy where the Witch-Doctor held sway. One time, the powdered milk they had provided for the mothers and babies, was banned as the Witch-Doctor declared that it was contaminated by a contraceptive ingredient, and it was not until Miss Allen and her helpers drank the milk themselves it was decided it was safe to drink.
One amusing anecdote was when she was in a small medical centre in Zambia where she dined with the Indian Medical Research Doctor and his wife when she was surprised to see that they had added on top of her curry and rice dish - bacon and eggs. This was to make her 'feel-at-home'
One disturbing feature about the generous provision of Aid - UNICEF had built a fully-equipped state-of-the-art Hospital: on visiting at a later date, the walls and equipment were in a bad state and the building was taken over at night by thieves an drug addicts.
On visiting another village the Elders took her to a make-shift illegal distillery, where she was obliged, in order not to offend, to sample the gin out of a fish-paste pot!
April 2010 meeting - Last Wednesday Carol Ransom (who began her career at Decca working for the MOD and who decided on a change of direction by going on a dressmaking course) gave us a history lesson on the emergence of ladies underwear.
She showed us a good sample of styles through the ages up to the present day. For example, in the 1850's there was the one-piece sleeveless shift made of coarse cotton with divided legs. We were full of admiration at the seamstresses skill at such delicate workmanship without, in those days, the benefit of electric light. One garment had beautiful hand-made
Italian lace, another meticulously embroidered shell edging. Carol had an extensive range of antique garments to show us, which made the talk all the more interesting.
We were also intrigued by the patterns that Carol worked on to produce such beautiful hand-made garments.
March 2010 meeting - Our Guild had a very busy time last Wednesday - firstly going to a
matinee performance of "As Time Goes By" at the Epsom Playhouse followed by a chat with the Manager, Cast and Lighting Engineer.
As a contrast, in the evening, we had a lively talk by Jim Buttress recounting his 25 years as a gardener in the Royal London Parks and Gardens. He told us that planning was of the utmost importance, and in their enormous greenhouses they cultivate over 4 million plants enabling them to maintain a colourful plant rotation in the flower beds all through the different seasons.
The gardeners try not to discard any plants if at all possible and even last years Tulips are re-planted in Brompton Cemetery where no-one raises an objection!
They have to cater for all sorts of activities - a case in point being Hyde Park where it ranges from Speakers Corner, Nannies pushing prams with their 'precious cargos', Office Workers sunning themselves at lunch time, and the recent phenomenon of the Open-air Concerts attended by thousands of people at any one time.
Mr. Buttress has had an interesting and varied life, starting at the RHS College, Wisley through to lecturing and judging gardens in such far flung places as Australia, Bahrein and the Britain in Bloom competition.
February 2010 meeting - On a return visit Mel Rees gave us some amusing anecdotes, similar to which many of us have experienced when the 'older' generation have to come to terms with modern technology and still retain their dignity and be in charge of their own lives.
With regards to his mother, the family had persuaded her to have installed various aids around the house including an alarm button around her neck. Anyway, at 3.00 am one morning they had to hare over to her house as the alarm had been activated and there had been no response to phone calls. The upshot of this was she hadn't realised you don't wear the alarm in bed (she had been told to wear it at all times) She had heard the 'phone but did not think it could possibly be for her at that time of night.
If you visited her during the day the house was very quiet as the T.V. Wasn't turned on until 'Countdown' started as was the norm when Mel's father was alive. Another ticklish situation was when she was eventually persuaded to buy a recliner chair to replace the saggy sofa she had sat on for years.
We all went 'ahh'when Mel showed us a 'photo of his collie dog, a new acquisition.He was upset by loud noises and would wrap himself around Mel's neck everytime there was a loud thunderclap, etc. His penchant was for collecting objects, such as lumps of coal, embroidery scissors, watches, etc. and displaying them in his corner with pride.
The Guild meets on the first Wednesday of the month at St. Marks Church Hall, Great Tattenham at 8 o'clock. All are welcome.