In January Vic Quayle recalled his ‘Life of Grime’ when many years ago he was working as an environmental health inspector. He was able to treat us to the whole range of horrors to be encountered in that profession – from slaughterhouses and appalling restaurants to obsessive hoarders and the keepers of venomous snakes and wild animals – as well as covering more routine matters such as the remedying of sub-standard housing. It would have been hard not to conclude that even if Vic’s talk had been addressed to a much younger audience it would have done little to encourage recruitment to the ranks of the environmental health officers. We must be thoroughly grateful that the job gets done.
In February former MEP Michael Hindley gave an excellent talk on Britain and Europe – What Next? After a valuable summary of our relationship with Europe since World War II he provided a balanced consideration of the factors governing current negotiations and the possible alternative outcomes. He then dealt authoritatively with a longer than usual session of questions which confirmed members’ deep interest in the issues and an appreciation that Michael had cast genuine light on them at a time when public debate is still largely conducted in emotional terms and from entrenched positions. This was the type of mature assessment that would have benefited the whole country in the weeks prior to the Referendum but which proved no less welcome after the event.
Due to adverse weather conditions the speaker was cancelled on the day.
David Rose spoke to us in April on Guildford Industries and provided an excellent and amply illustrated account of several of the major manufactures in the town from the medieval cloth trade through to the twentieth century domination of Guildford by the Dennis motor works. Between these periods we learnt of the less well-known local clay pipe making and of the brickworks in Guildford Park and Stoughton the first of which provided a substantial proportion of the bricks for the Cathedral. Over the years the Dennis family had moved on from Rodborough Buildings to the Woodbridge site and from the manufacture of bicycles through to cars Churchill tanks lawn mowers and the variety of buses dustcarts and fire engines on which their reputation latterly rested and we were reminded of the vast size of the Dennis factory and its importance to the town
As it was the AGM, there was no speaker.
Alan Williams reflected on his time with the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces. More to follow.
In July on the day before England’s quarter final triumph the Club revisited the Conquests of 1966 with Brian Scovell formerly of the Daily Mail. In the course of a long and prolific career as a sports writer Brian had the distinction of being the only journalist to cover both the football World Cup and the cricket Test series against West Indies in 1966. Brian had personally known most of the leading players at that time and for many years afterwards and this enabled him to treat us to a most interesting variety of insights and stories around the England campaign under Alf Ramsay leading on to some stimulating reflections on the current manager Gareth Southgate and his squad. Time sadly ran out for us all too soon
Geoff Beer took us back through decades of state snooping into our private lives. His talk looked at the use of technology from the 1930’s to today with emphasis on the electronic trail we leave behind us. Happily, in Britain we have had fairly benign governments which have not intruded too much but the chilling fact is that the capability is there.
Monitoring of the behaviour of suspected spies, activists or potential terrorists is understandable but there is a fuzzy line between acquiring information for genuine security reasons and holding it on file against the interests of individuals. Geoff explained the strict rules which applied in the UK to prevent unnecessary information being held by the authorities. He also described how sensitive information can fall into the hands of commercial concerns or indeed criminal operators. He considered the possibility that some of the electronic equipment in our homes could be used for continuous eves-dropping on our daily lives.
Alan gave us a witty and involving talk about trees and woods, drawing on his experience with the Forestry Commission. With plenty of audience participation greatly encouraged by Alan, he tried to dispel the myths and mysteries which darken our perception of the world of woods and forests. Fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin all helped to create a rather evil image of our woods in the minds of children which often stayed with us into adulthood. Everyone could remember bedtime stories which cautioned us never to venture into the forest, particularly after dark.
Historically, in less civilized times, woods may have been “off limits” to decent folks but nowadays they should be valued for the assets which they are, providing havens for wildlife, sources of woodland products and places of recreation.
Phil Holt described how control systems had developed over the years and how the UK had been at the forefront of European air traffic control since the war. Air traffic controllers are responsible for each aircraft as it travels, using radar to track its exact position, keep it safe in the airspace and provide the most efficient journey route. He explained how approach controllers ensure that planes are placed in holding patterns when airports are busy and deal with instrument landing systems, which allow some planes to make automatic landings,
He took us through the various elements of control whereby air space was divided into sectors and then airport zones where duties are divided again between air control and ground operations. He also touched on the implications of Brexit and the possibility that the UK, who had set up much of the European system, may have to pay a large premium to buy back into it.
The Club held its Christmas lunch at the Cranleigh Golf Club/ It was much enjoyed be all. There was no speaker.