W.I. Newsletter November 2020

Once again, we met courtesy of Zoom for this month’s meeting and our speaker this time was Mike Brook who has an amateur dramatics background, which gave him confidence to become a public speaker 12 years ago.  He had one rule – to be entertaining.  However, it is a challenge to speak to an audience sitting in their own homes, who have been muted and who possibly he could not see (depending on what “view” he had selected on his device).  Difficult to judge his audience’s responses.   (There has been some feedback since amongst the committee to see if this can, perhaps, be managed differently).

Nevertheless, he explained that his talk’s title “Top of the Greasy Pole” can be attributed to Benjamin Disraeli who first coined the expression when he became Prime Minister 152 years ago.

Apparently, it is the 300th Anniversary in 2021 since the role was first officially recognised.

He regaled us with various anecdotes involving several Prime Ministers, mostly historical ones no longer alive.  One of the most difficult to imagine was to picture Margaret Thatcher sitting down with her aides to watch the Dead Parrot sketch from Monty Python to help her understand a phrase which one of her speech writers had incorporated into one of her speeches.  It is not known whether she found it amusing or not, but she was surprised how well it went when she made the speech.  

We heard how Winston Churchill, with some diplomacy, managed to persuade an American General that it was not a good idea to take home as a souvenir an item of cutlery whilst attending a Banquet at Buckingham Palace following the end of WWII.

He also told us that when Harold Wilson took office as Prime Minister, he immediately awarded the outgoing PM, Edward Heath, a chauffeur driven car as a leaving present, which was not the usual practice, but, therefore, set a precedent.  So not a surprise then, that when Harold Wilson left office he was also presented with the same.   

Mike was thanked by our President Julia and then it was time for a chat amongst the members who had attended the meeting virtually, which was very welcome.

Our next meeting is on 10th December and the speaker is Janet Shell and she is going to talk to us about “The Sunlight Girl”.  In an effort to be as festive as possible, members have been asked to wear something Christmassy and to have a glass of something, perhaps with some nibbles, or a hot drink and mince pie maybe, so we can virtually toast each other.  We all appreciate that Christmas is going to be difficult this year, but we are endeavouring to stay connected.

Carol Taylor Cecilia Cotton