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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
No speaker. The Club held its Christmas lunch.