June 2017

At our June lunch the Club heard from Dr Colin Summerhayes of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University on Melting Ice – Rising Seas: Antarctica and Climate Change. He started by giving a most attractive view of the wildlife and scenery of Antarctica before moving on to present an  expertly clear and concise summary of the evidence in relation to rising temperatures and the impact which they can be expected to have in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. Dr Summerhayes presented a balanced insight into the history of climate change and demonstrated that solar activity is not the significant factor in the present overwhelming trend to rising temperatures and water levels. In a most stimulating talk he provided compelling proof that the situation is attributable to human activity outside the historic pattern of climate change​

July 2017

In July the Club heard from Richard Warren with a thoughtful and thought-provoking talk on Women in Prisons: Prejudice and Policy. Richard was well placed as a magistrate and a former member of the Independent Monitoring Board at two women’s prisons to give a clear but concise appraisal of the serious problems affecting the prison system as a whole resulting in large part from long term under-funding. These included over-crowding and the associated issue of prisoners being confined to their cells for up to 23 hours a day. He then covered authoritatively the distinct issues affecting women prisoners, a large proportion of whom had suffered domestic abuse and who were particularly drawn to hard drugs in order to cope with their emotional  and psychological conditions. He spoke too of positive efforts to get through to young people at an early stage with a view to heading them off from  becoming young offenders but these steps too have now fallen victim to the withdrawal of funding

August 2017

In August we heard an authoritative and well illustrated talk by historian Alan Turton on the Mary Rose. Contrary to popular belief, the ship sank in 1545 after more than 30 years service having been built on the orders of Henry VIII as part of his prestige project to create a fleet of state-of-the-art warships for his wars against the French. She was one of the first vessels to be constructed with gun ports thus vastly increasing their fire power but this may have been a significant factor in her dramatic sinking in the Solent when facing a French fleet larger even than the Spanish Armada. Alan gave a full account of the recovery of the wreck in 1982 and many fascinating insights into the crew (many being Portuguese or other foreigners) and the vast diversity of artefacts recovered.

September 2017

In  September Susan  Howe Cantered  Through A  Funny  Life giving us her  charming  and  amusing  reminiscences in  particular  of  two  great  British  eccentrics.. We heard  firstly of  her  time  as  PA (barely  handicapped by  an  inability  to type) to John  Betjeman who could  seldom  be  separated  from  his teddy  bear Archie and  his  friend Jumbo. Despite his bizarre  behaviour he clearly  had a real sense  of  fun and  attracted a wide  range  of friends from  Princess Margaret  and the Earl of  Snowdon  to Barry  Humphries. Susan then  regaled us with  stories of her  friend’s  father  Donald  Sinclair the  Yorkshire vet re-created by  James  Herriott  as  Siegfried in All  Creatures Great  and  Small – a  man  not shy  of  suggesting  to the  Queen that  as  a present in  return  for  a carriage  horse she  might keep the  china  proposed by the  Palace  and instead  come up  with a pair of  Georgian  silver  toast racks – which  he  then attempted (unsuccessfully) to  return when  he  took  against them.

October 2017

In  October Paul  Backhouse  spoke  brilliantly on ‘Alan Turing -Guildford’s Best  Kept  Secret’. Paul  had painstakingly  researched the  subject (previously almost entirely  unknown) of Turing’s substantial  connection  with the  town and (with  help and  photographs from  members  of the  family) shed considerable light on  his  personal life – ranging  from his  wonderfully  bad school  reports (offset  by  brilliant  exam  results),his  ability  from an  early  age  to  solve problems of a worldly  as well  as those  of  an  intellectual  nature, to  his surprising  love of  golf ,rowing  and  marathon  running (at  which  he came close  to  challenging  for  an  Olympic  place). We  came  away  from  Paul’s seemingly  effortless tour de force  with a much  greater appreciation of  Turing as  a real person rather  than simply  as the  key  to solving the  Enigma  codes and as the  father of computing.

November 2017

Margaret Taylor on behalf of the National Trust spoke to us in November on 'Clandon Park -the Fire and the Future'. The presentation was amply illustrated and shed light on the history of the house as well as the fire itself (Margaret having been present when it broke out), its immediate aftermath and the recovery of a proportion of the contents, followed by the period of extensive conservation and archaeology undertaken to date. We also heard of the Trust's vision for the future and the six restoration schemes competing for adoption and which, while respectful of the original building, are very much forward looking. The fire has revealed much that was not previously known as to the construction of the house in three substantially distinct parts. Restoration will clearly take some years and in the meantime the surviving structure is protected by some 32 miles of scaffolding and a temporary roof and the National Trust will continue so far as possible to encourage visitors to see Clandon as it currently stands

December 2017

No speaker.  The Club held its Christmas lunch.

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