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Climate Change:  Does it Really Matter?

The evidence and causes of climate change were discussed. The main reason for climate change is global warming which is caused by the accumulation of so-called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases are continuing to accumulate at an ever increasing rate. This produces not only increased temperatures but changes in our climates worldwide.

The consequences for the planet and detrimental effects on communities in both the developed and developing world make action to reduce climate change very urgent. The current international response was discussed. 

 

 

Henry Hutchinson showed us the scientific evidence for climate change and discussed the consequences to mankind living in various parts of the world.  Some areas could benefit but others certainly will not.  The global responsibilities and the moralistic arguments to protect future generations as well as our neighbours wherever they live on the planet were explained and debated.  Coping with the unprecedented effects of global warming and oceanic acidification is probably the biggest long term challenge faced by mankind.  If we want the world of tomorrow to be more habitable than today we need to act very quickly and reduce CO2, N2O & CH4 emissions.  Unfortunately some leaders of major emitting countries are in scientific evidential denial for political reasons.  One of the best lectures I have heard on this topic and the audience thought so too by the depth and numbers of questions in the debate afterwards.

 

Figure 1.  Prof. HENRY HUTCHINSON

 

 

 

Figure 2,  AN ATTENTIVE PROBUS AUDIENCE

Chris Bevan   Probus OB Speaker secretary 11 April 2018

 

Figure 1 Chris displays his hat and silk scarf from his Himalayan travels.


Kashmir: Paradise on Earth
Paradise on Earth-Beautiful Flowers of Kashmir by Chris Chadwell
An Illustrated talk by Chris Chadwell who is an entertaining speaker with a passion for horticulture. Chris showed us some amazing images as well as delighting us with information about the flowers that are found in the Kashmir Valley.

Figure 2: Chris discusses Kashmir with one of our members


Known as the 'Switzerland of the Himalaya', Kashmir was considered by conquering Moghul Emperors to be a 'Paradise on Earth', boasting as it does, lakes adorned with fabulous lotuses, luxuriant pine forests and colourful alpine meadows, set amongst snowy peaks - to which they added wonderful gardens and handicrafts of the finest quality. Chris has visited Kashmir several times in the 1980s. He returned in 2012, after an absence of 23 years (due to serious unrest and high risk of kidnap by militants) securing his best ever set of images, enabling a fresh look into this beautiful but troubled land.
An informed personal account with insight into a very foreign land of great beauty and culture.
I think that, in the comfort of the centrally heated lecture theatre, Chris convinced us that we should go there and meet his Kashmiri friends and plant hunters who it seems offered him a genuine personal hospitality that is becoming rarer to find in the overcrowded cities of the west.
To think that this is a land of milk and honey would be false however, as Chris told us of several near-miss incidents and crimes that would separate the genuine dedicated explorer from the casual holidaymaker sightseer. The Himalayan mountain roads twist and turn and often collapse and fall down in avalanches for many hundreds of metres. Our Bucks road potholes are a microcosm by comparison. The people are just as gritty as the roads and his photos of their field kitchen and under canvas accommodation stood out in stark contrast to the opulence and dignity of the splendid Kashmir palaces.

Chris Bevan Speaker secretary Probus OB 28 03 18

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If you missed a unique experience today then by clicking on the link below you can virtually visit Kelvedon and learn of its frightening history.

http://www.secretnuclearbunker.com/

Feedback was very good from the people from Probus who visited this home of Armageddon.  Lets hope such places are never needed to be used to save humanity from itself.

 

Simon Williams informed and entertained us with his magic tricks and histories of classic and modern dupsters and con artists. He even managed to con our chairman out of a fake ten quid in an elaborate version of the find the lady card trick.

One of the most bizarre but amusing contricks (if you are not the person being conned) was his tale of the man who sold the Eiffel Tower for scrap iron....not once but twice!
Lots of praise and laughter from our audience;  we will get Simon back to con us again.
CHRIS BEVAN 
SPEAKER SECRETARY
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I am a text block. Click on me to drag me around or click a corner handle to resize me. Click the settings icon (it's the left one, looks like a cog) to change this text. You can type new text into me or cut and paste text from somewhere else. Click outside of me when you're done and any changes will be saved.

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“The Sky at Night”

Serious astronomy from the Crendon Observatory - with a laugh – by Gordon Rogers

 

Gordon showed us how he built a magnificent observatory on top of his house in Long Crendon.

His aim was to observe and record deep sky objects with the best amateur equipment available.

He showed us dozens of exquisite stellar photographs/images of stellar quality.  He explained his early astronomy of the moon when he saw a dust cloud created by an impact of a meteor, something very rare to see from Earth despite the Moon being bomarded by rocks and having no atmosphere to protect its surface.

A lifetime of astronomical observing was squeezed into the talk and showed just how much can be achieved by one man with determination, good equipment and an understanding wife, despite the inclement weather of southern Britain.

Dr. Chris Bevan   

 

"Transforming drug discovery: the pathway to innovation"

   Basically why aren't new drugs being discovered fast       enough to meet a growing need.
“always do what you believe to be right, never compromise on standards and don’t be driven by convention.”

 

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Prof. Martin Parsons                    “Photographic abuse”         24th January 2018

             Martin gave us in my opinion his best lecture yet. 

He explained how most people look at photographs and pictures and simply accept them  rather than critically analysing them.  In the “Trump world” of so-called fake news we were warned to be on our guard to spot falsification and other hidden propaganda messages or hidden implications. 

A great interaction exercise with our audience to spot the fake or interpret the message made the talk very interesting.

Martin’s talk has made looking at photos more pleasurable for me as I will now wonder about  what is behind the photo, just as I would do naturally if it were a piece of historical text. 

I recalled seeing a London transport Routemaster bus featured in an edition of TV’s “Call the Midwife” supposedly set in 1953 in Poplar.  I went to school in Poplar and know full well that Routemasters were introduced in 1958 on routes #5 and #8.   Chris.... Get a life you all  might say!

Chris Bevan Speaker Secretary Probus OB

 

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Dogs are said to be man's best friend. Proof of this relationship is exemplified by the latest findings from the labs of Medical Detection Digs according to Geoffrey in his intriguing lecture.

The dogs ability to smell volatile organic compounds in the breath and urine of subjects with various ailments and illnesses is quite simply, astounding.
Early detection of tumours and of a diabetic's hypoglycaemia is changing and saving the lives of people many of whom wouldn't be alive were it not for early prompt detection.
This charity should be supported and its claims fully investigated and utilised to detect diseases early on.  A great lecture.

 

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The History of St Mary's Church Beaconsfield 

     JEREMY BROOKS        RECTOR OF ST MARY’S

In their day, names like Edmund Waller, Anne Hyde, Edmund Burke, and Francis Grenfell were household names.  All of them now lie interred in St Mary's Churchyard.  Jeremy Brooks told us a little of their history, together with their continuing legacy today,  as well as outlining a little more of the history of the church and building and some of his (far more) illustrious predecessors and other people connected to the church.  

 

Jeremy’s account of the past 800 years or so of the Beaconsfield Church’s history since a William de Windsor was vicar back in 1210 kept us interested and amused.  Times have certainly changed since the other William conquered England back in 1066 but arguments and hot personalities have not.

 Exile-ation (to the nearby continent) and exhalation (via the Hangman’s noose) were reported for many dignitaries as a result of them disagreeing with the powers that be at the time.  During and after the English Civil War it seemed that if, in Jeremy’s words, your allegiances swayed in the wind then it was very likely that your body would also sway in the wind shortly afterwards; kept them on their toes though! 

Less macabre accounts of the Grenfell dynasty ( Joyce and co) were largely paved with fame and glory but now overshadowed in many peoples memory by the recent Grenfell tower disaster.

Dead people cannot talk for themselves and lectures such as this one remind us of the folk who quietly sleep beside us, of their illustrious, brave, criminal and common working lives that have enriched our town and helped to make it what it is today; a nice place to live. 

Thank you Jeremy for reminding us.

Dr. Chris Bevan Speaker secretary Probus OB.

28 09 2017

 

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Looking back over his 30+ year career in acoustics Peter brought us into his world of initially field testing scientist, R&D Researcher and finally as a senior academic administrator.

He has been fortunate to have worked on some very challenging projects using acoustical knowledge to solve pressing practical problems.  His development of noise cancelling head phones for application to battle situations in the RAF and army has now cascaded down to their domestic use in HiFi headphones.

He related to us an amusing story of a poor lady who had inadvertently walked into a Ministry of Defence field test of the so called SKYSHOUT aerial megaphone. She thought she had been told by GOD that she should walk to the end of the road for her safety.  The police eventually intervened and reassured the lady that it wasn’t GOD but the MoD shouting down at her above the clouds from several thousand feet.   Not sure which I would have liked shouting down at me, but it reminded me of the old TV advert for winning the Lottery....”It could be you”!

Peter has been fortunate to have met some well known celebrities and royalty as part of his work and showed us photos of Princess Diana wearing his noise cancelling headphones whilst seated in a pilot’s seat.  There must have been a lot of noise to cancel out at Buckingham palace back in those days.

HRH Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh was featured looking at the plans for the new BBC Television centre at Salford where Peter was Pro Vice Chancellor.

Peter completed his career tour back home in Penn as a Parish councillor with a delightful slide of him driving Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, (the noisy car from the famous film).

An irony of the talk was that the projector and audiovisual system at Fitzwilliam decided to play up; perhaps it knew that an acoustician was driving it!

 

Chris Bevan  Speaker secretary  11  October 2017 

 

Roger Askew    

Windsor castle from medieval fortress to royal palace

Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest continuously occupied castle in the world, and has been the home of English monarchs for over 900 years.  Rogers lecture traces the development of the Castle from an 11th century fortress into a magnificent palace, and illustrates how it has been enlarged and rebuilt, focussing in particular on the four monarchs whose reigns have been seminal periods in the Castle’s development: Edward III, Charles II, George IV and Queen Elizabeth II.

 

Lots of questions for Roger afterwards, which is always a sign of a good lecture which interested everyone.

 

Chris Bevan Speaker secretary

 

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“HOW TIME AND ENERGY ARE RUNNING OUT” BY IAN SENIOR

An unusual view of the economics, physics and human behaviours that govern and influence the way in which people use and abuse the world’s energy and resources.

Ian showed lists of the world’s richest countries as judged by capital resources such as oil, coal etc and also their economies scaled by their intellectual contributions as measured by number of Nobel prize winners, which essentially measures their scientific innovation.  Surprisingly perhaps, the UK comes out highest on the Nobel laureate scale but is way down when it comes to capital resources.  Luxembourg came out second for what I would call “loads of money” per capita but it was unclear how they actually make their money.  Venuzuela seems to be top in oil reserves but very low on most other measures

Ian predicts that our children’s futures will be poorer than ours lives were, with less travel, less meat, less power per person available and more fighting for resources amongst competing countries and sub groups.  He left us with hope that the kindness and spirituality are two human traits that could educate and persuade people away from wars, but I must say that in the past this hasn’t worked.

Ian suggests that money itself (i.e.  the promise to pay the bearer a pounds worth of gold for a pound coin for example) should be based on an energy standard unit scale such as kiloWatt hours per transaction rather than on a gold based standard as it is the amount of energy available that determines wealth and the consequent ability to do and make things with that energy.  An interesting thought and one that prompted many questions and discussion.

 

Dr. Chris Bevan:  Speaker Secretary Probus Old Beaconsfield   22 November 2017

 

MIKE WHITEHOUSE

MMIKE WHITE HOUSE

 Mike entertained us with his various tales of humorous antics in the RAF .

His talk should be used as a recruiting exercise for the services to ensure we have the right stuff for the future.   The talk was illustrated with some scary photos of aeroplanes doing lots of oddball things.   Just the right mood was generated to celebrate our pre-Christmas lecture meeting and topped off afterwards with mince pies and mulled wine.  Mike didn’t fly home and stayed to answer questions, share experiences and help us finish the grub.

Even the Canberra jet bomber (Mike’s favourite aeroplane) was smiling!

Chris Bevan

 Speaker secretary Probus OB

13 December 2017

 

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DISASTER VICTIMS IDENTIFICATION

STEVE TOLMIE

23 AUGUST 2017

Over the past few years we have unfortunately had a number of disasters in the UK and Europe.  Some have been natural in origin and some manmade.  Irrespective of origin, the problems facing the police and forensic investigators are the same; matching up body parts and identifying them unequivocally.  A sombre subject,  but explained by Steve with sensitivity and insider knowledge from 31 years as a policeman and latterly, after his retirement from chief inspector rank, to working as a specialist investigative detective  in the Thames valley police unit.  Apart from the more obvious methods of identification such as DNA and fingerprint matching we were told of the socio and familial issues involved in cases where loved ones have died and / or disappeared in disaster scenarios such as earth quakes, tsunamis and explosions etc.  Close relatives used for matching DNA from the deceased victims sometimes discover that they were in fact unrelated!  Steve related a surprising statistic that 1 in 6 of fathers in England has a child who is not related to them.  

The systems used internationally to record and track information from disaster zones were explained. 

One fact that surprised me was the rate of misidentification of a body in mortuary by a relative.  Facial appearances change after death and bodies decay and decompose making facial identification unreliable.  Steve took many questions from the audience and had discussions with members in small groups afterwards. 

A most intriguing insight into a world not many of us have experienced.... fortunately perhaps.

Dr. Chris Bevan [Speaker secretary]

 

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PROBUS ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION


 


On 19th July, we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of our foundation with a splendid lunch for 84 members and ladies in the elegant function room of Maidenhead Rowing Club.  Founding member Richard Nisbet recounted how the Club was formed in April 1992 by the late Don Swinhoe-Standen.  Don and others decided to start a new club because the original Beaconsfield club situated in the New Town had limited accommodation and a long waiting list.


 


Also enjoying the occasion was Don's 90 year old widow Pat who proposed a toast to the Club and member no 11 Clifford Beebee who celebrated his 90th birthday this year.  The event was organised by Club members Peter Rogers and David Baker. One of the photos shows Clifford Beebee (left) together with Pat Swinhoe-Standen (centre) and Richard Nisbet.(right).


 


David Baker


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DAVID RICHARDS
"30 YEARS IN THE FIRE SERVICE" If you want an exciting career helping people, working with your mates and driving fast vehicles and not knowing what is to be encountered each day, then David's old job as a fire fighter is one you should consider. However, the job could be interpreted as putting your health and life on the line every working day and getting paid nothing special for the risk and trouble.
Some very amusing anecdotal stories from his 30 years in the service made for interesting and easy listening. Amusing accounts of the elderly lady who managed to put her bed fire out without the help of a fireman whom she had invited to come up and see her bedroom, to the fireman who extinguished the fire and fireplace next door by hosing gallons of water down the wrong chimney pot whilst the innocent homeowners sat watching TV. Always guaranteed to raise a laugh when things go wrong, as well of course as raising a compensation cheque for the damage to match!
A lovely storytelling style account of life in the fire service which prompted loads of questions.
Chris Bevan Speaker secretary Probus OB
28 JUNE 2017

Journey into Space:  What is ISS?      Chris Bevan     14 June 2017

 

If you have ever looked up into the night sky and wondered what the millions of distant stars are called then wonder on; as my Journey into Space talk will be about what's going on only 250 miles up.  One of those small sparkling spots of light isn't a star, it's a huge spaceship with people, laboratories, lavatories, robots, telescopes and computers flying around at 5 miles a second watching over us; all the time day and night.  I will be taking Probus members to visit it and take a visual tour of this spinning international community.

Good morning Probus Earthmen from ISS

 

It would be self indulgent of me to comment upon my own lecture here but the web links below are provided to inform those who were unable to attend it.  I got quite a few thoughtful relevant questions which must have meant the audience were listening, so at least the lack of availability of a lapel microphone yesterday didn’t hamper me.  


Chris Bevan Speaker secretary Probus OB

LOUD LAUNCH OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE 

 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnoNITE-CLc&t

 

https://youtu.be/hulMgWJV3e8      Space X return of 1st stage on land

 

 

https://youtu.be/kOIyBAcz1yI           Lady Astronaut tour of ISS

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzMQza8xZCc     ISS view of earth LIVE

 

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THE JUBILEE SAILING TRUST –Changing Lives    By DAVID SAGE

                   

Figure 1 DAVID SAGE (LEFT) TALKS TO A PROBUS MEMBER

Many people unfortunately suffer physical and mental challenges in their lives.  Some succumb to them and spend the rest of their lives being chronically handicapped significantly whilst some (the lucky ones one might say) pull themselves out of it and continue to achieve as much as they can in spite of their disablements.  The Jubilee Sailing Trust helps people to realise and accept that despite their inabilities and disabilities they can enjoy a fulfilled life and experience situations that they could not have imagined being possible for them.  David told us the stories of such people who through the trust’s voyages have been given the confidence to work alongside others to sail huge sailing ships around the world and learn sailing and living skills invaluable to them in the various communities in which they live.

A significant investment in two  sailingvessels worth many millions of pounds enable these voyages supported by a dedicated professional crew augmented by volunteers such as David.  There was a lesson to be learned from his experiences; i.e.  don’t feel sorry for yourself and don’t treat disabled people as though they are invisible or inadequate.  Their expectations are probably as great as yours, perhaps greater, and many seek achievements to bolster their confidence...... Dont we all?

Chris Bevan Speaker Secretary to Probus Old Beaconsfield

26 04 2017

 

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PROBUS GIN AND SILK VISIT 28th MARCH TO LAVERSTOKE & WHITCHURCH.

For those of you who were unable to come on our Excellent Trip, here is a small insight. Obviously you missed out on the Gin and to be able to feel the silk, her are a few Photos.


A very Big thankyou to Tony Ebutt for arranging such a well presented trip.


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David Hayhurst-France

F1 life in the fast lane

Fro a career in motor insurance IT to a logistics manager in Mercedes F1 seems an unlikely transition but that’s what happened to David.  The apparently glamourous world of motor racing top class Formula one has a lot of hidden secrets and these aren’t just in how to win the race.  Spending over 70 pc of ones time away from home might suit the single person with no relatives but to most of us it splits us from families has a definite downside.  David explained how the F1 teams travel the world much like a travelling circus bur instead of performing elephants they support 1600cc V6 raving engines with select drivers dedicated to winning at all costs.  Costs that amount to almost 400 million pounds a year to get the trophies that demonstrate vorsprung durch technic and another win on the podium.  Spin-off justification from racing engines to family cars didn’t convince me but its sheer fun and exhilaration  of man and machine pushing the limits so why try to justify it on economic or developmental grounds.  Mercedes have been so successful over past 3 years that the opposition are getting worried and the fans  getting used to seeing the silver cars at the chequered flag.  As in politics one must have credible opposition and this coming season  we will see in any knock Mercedes off the top spot.  A most interesting well delivered talk which prompted lots of interest and questions.

Chris Bevan Speaker secretary

 

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“WIDGETS & GIZMOS”

8TH February 2017

MIKE WHITEHOUSE

 Mike Whitehouse heralds from the RAF as a former Red Arrows display team flight commander pilot and who was later deployed into MOD -Air Intelligence.  

The RAF’s bombing accuracy was very poor early on in WW2 and proved costly and ineffective.

Later on the precision bombing of, for example the Dambusters’ raids, showed that technology had advanced considerably mainly due to knowing exactly where you were in the sky with respect to your target. 

Mike took us through the various early electromagnetic signalling devices (LORENZ and pseudo RADAR type) and computational devices (ENIGMA & LORENZ CYPHERS) used for directing, jamming and de-coding signals respectively from the enemy in WW2.   

WW2 was an historical period of enormously fruitful innovation and inventiveness on all sides catalysed by the demanding needs of warfare. 

The so called Battle of the Beams was a period early in WW2 when bombers of the German Air Force used a number of increasingly accurate systems of radio navigation for night bombing in the UK. British scientific intelligence at the Air Ministry fought back with a variety of their own increasingly effective means, involving disruption of radiowaves.  

Prior to the war, Lufthansa and the German aircraft industry invested heavily in the development of commercial aviation and various systems and methodologies that would improve its safety and reliability.  Among these was a considerable amount of R&D of blind landing aids which allowed aircraft to approach an airport at night or in bad weather.  The primary system developed for this role was the LORENZ system, developed by Plendl, which was in the process of being deployed on large civilian and military aircraft.

The Lorenz system worked by feeding a special three-element antenna system with a modulated radio signal. The signal was fed to the centre dipole, which had a slightly longer reflector element on either side set slightly back. A switch rapidly alternated the opened midpoint connection of each reflector in turn, sending the beam slightly to the left and then slightly to the right of the centreline of the runway. The beams widened as they spread from the antennas, so there was an area directly off the runway approach where the two signals overlapped. The switch was timed so it spent longer on the right side of the antenna than the left.

An aircraft approaching the airport would tune one of their radios to the Lorenz frequency.  If the crew found they were on the left side of the centreline they would hear a series of short tones followed by longer pauses - the pauses being the time the signal was being sent out the other side of the antenna.  Hearing the "dots", they would know they had to turn to the right in order to be flying down the centreline.  If they started on the right side, they would instead hear a series of longer tones followed by short pauses, while the signal was on the "dot" side of the antenna.  Hearing the "dashes", they would turn to the left to capture the centreline.  In the centre, the radio would receive both signals, which sounded like a continual signal, the so-called "equi-signal".  Flying in the known direction of the runway and keeping the equi-signal on the radio, the Lorenz could guide an aircraft down a straight line with a relatively high degree of accuracy, so much so that the aircraft could then find the runway visually in all but the worst conditions.

In these days of modern GPS we take for granted that our little black box in our car knows where we are and where other drivers are too when married to a traffic management system on ones mobile phone; even if we ourselves don’t!    Back in the inter-war period one had merely a compass and the stars or at best the terrain if one could see it through cloud and recognise its landmarks.

The latter part of Mike’s talk concentrated on the work of the code breakers at Bletchley Park and the electrical communications engineering of COLOSSUS by Tommy Flowers then of the GPO. 

One wonders whether this work would be understood and appreciated by us today had it not been for the ubiquitous use of our personal computers.

Mike fielded lots of questions after his talk showing the interest from the members, some of whom had been pilots in the fifties and sixties.

Chris Bevan    Probus OB Speaker Secretary

 

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     The ancient Maya and Life in the Rainforest of Guatemala

Dr. Diane Davies

11th January 2017

 

The ancient Maya, who lived in Central America, brought us an intricate calendar system, complex hieroglyphic writing, some of the largest pyramids in the world, a form of ballgame that is like no other and most importantly chocolate! Diane Davies talked about the magnificent achievements of the Maya as well as her experience of working in the rainforest of Guatemala.

 

Everyone has a past and a heritage which for many creates and fosters a sense of continuity and a pride in one’s culture and traditions.  Unfortunately for the present-day Maya they are discriminated against and Diane is trying to enlighten people in the UK about the Maya both ancient and modern and their remarkable achievements 

Probably one of the most advanced civilisations of their time which spanned some 3500 years, lasting longer than almost all other peoples of South and Central America.

 

Diane explained their written language and their arithmetical counting system and their unique calendars.  As essentially a “stone age” technical culture lacking metallurgy, their feats of engineering are magnificent and colossal. They built pyramids deep in the rainforest at daytime temperatures of 40C, with high humidity and infested with the usual nasty jungle insects and snakes but without any beasts of burden to help them and the wheel!.

 

Diane’s talk must rank as one of the best we have had, so if you missed it then you can go to her website to gen up on this fascinating civilisation and the important work that she is undertaking in Guatemela.

 

                                                  http://mayaarchaeologist.co.uk/

 

Ancient Maya Specialist and Consultant
Honorary Research Associate, Institute of Archaeology, UCL
Historical Association Speaker
Tutor at City Literary College
diane@mayaarchaeologist.co.uk
diane.e.davies@ucl.ac.uk

07703 436398

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Dr. Chris Bevan

 

Speaker secretary for Probus Old Beaconsfield

 

 

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Ted heath – a reputation revised

 

In his talk to Old Beaconsfield Probus club on 13 September, Dr Martin Holmes gave a fascinating account of the highs and lows of the UK parliamentary world of the 1970s-80s, during the “watch” of Ted Heath, Harold Wilson, James Callaghan and, more recently, Tony Blair. Martin teased out the subtleties of the manoeuvring which took place on both sides of the commons and explained how arrangements were made to facilitate “awkward matters” which arose from time to time. His talk provoked a wide range of questions and comments and stirred our memories of this somewhat turbulent time in our recent history.   

 

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The nature of reality: there’s more to it than you might think. 

Dr. Peter Gibson

 9th August 2017

Our ladies invitation luncheon today followed a lecture on the nature of reality by Peter Gibson a retired teacher who has pursued an interest in philosophy to a doctorate level. 

Peter explained how his interest sparked as a child in how the world works and how we as human beings perceive it and explain it, has fuelled his studies throughout his life.  Peter didn’t take the scientific path to satiate his curiosity as many of our members have done, as his maths wasn’t up to it.

He decided that collecting ideas and thoughts from many people over the ages essentially led to him founding a computer database of ideas.  His website at   http://www.philosophyideas.com/    explains all this.

Peter’s lecture could have easily taken more time than we allowed him as he was concerned that his audience wouldn’t fully appreciate where he was coming from if he dived straight in.  Many of our members come from scientific and engineering backgrounds so Peter had to make it clear from the outset that he was not proposing that philosophical thinking should be stood up against scientific thinking but rather should augment or partner it.

Some of our audience said both in the brief question time and privately afterwards that they appreciated his philosophical perspective views of the reality of the room we were sat in and the objects surrounding  us and his explanations had some resonances with contemporary thinking in particle physics.  Terminologies in the two subjects vary enormously but current quantum particle physics thinking and field theories of Einsteinian spacetime do seem to point towards humanities’ interpretation of thephysical world of  mass: energy : time reality that we experience are perhaps simply using different ways of describing the same phenomena.  As a physical scientist I of course would choose the rigorous scientific method and employ careful measurement when building up or believing a theory, but Peter did try to convince us that there is value in the modes of thinking that a philosopher employs.

Of all the lectures we have had in the past few years this one should, in my opinion, be called the “MARMITE “ talk as I got quite a bit of polarized feedback afterwards.  The lunch was quite good too but no Marmite there I’m afraid!

Dr. Chris Bevan

Probus Old Beaconsfield Speaker secretary.

 

Latimer House and Wilton Park secrets of WW2 .   A TALK BY HELEN FRY. 12 07 17

 

An informative account of the British secret service’s interrogations during WW2 delivered in an amusing style.  I bet you didn’t think that interrogation could be light-hearted but neither did the German generals and senior officers taken prisoners of war and housed initially in the Tower of London no less, and later on in Wilton and Latimer houses.

By allowing them apparent freedom and ensuring their senior ranks were fully respected they felt as though they were honoured guests of the British rather than PoWs.  In fact every room and garden they occupied were bugged with sensitive listening devices and every conversation they had was being recorded, translated and carefully inspected for secrets. 

 

The existence of the German V rocket programme and their deuterium oxide heavy water plant were discovered by this method leading to the bombing and destruction of these facilities later in the war and of course the negation of the potential German Atomic bomb project.

It is impossible to say by how much this valuable knowledge shortened the war and contributed to the allies’ victory but it was comforting to hear that this knowledge was obtained without the use of force and cruelty so often taken as read in wartime.  The Germans actually believed that the British were useless as interrogators, having been subjected to mock interrogations to hide the real methods used.

Helen sold some of her latest books to our members afterwards and we have invited her back to tell us more for our 2019 programme.

 

Dr. Chris Bevan:  Speaker secretary Probus OB

 

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Hatfield House Event 21st June 2017

Firstly an excellent Event arranged by Richard Dillon. His planning and organization was completed with precision, a tough act to follow for his last role as Event Committee member.

The day started and finished as the hottest day in June since 1976. Fortunately we had a 51 seater coach which gave us plenty of room to spread out and maintain a comfortable temperature. On arrival the tea rooms proved to being both inviting and extremely welcome. Our tour started at 1230Hrs. Our guide being extremely informative and humorous and completed the tour at a very acceptable pace.

The afternoon was then devoted to keeping cool and exploring the Private gardens of Hatfield House and open park land.

 

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“BUCKINGHAMSHIRE IN WORLD WAR 1”

A tour-de-force 1 hour lecture from a highly qualified authority on British military history, Ian informed and entertained us with his detailed account of the role of various communities in Buckinghamshire from the outbreak of war in 1914 to its end in 1918.  He started with words coined and used in the Great War and long afterwards ; words such as “conchies” meaning conscientious objectors i.e. people who didn’t wish to wage war on their fellow man because of their religious or humanitarian views that disturbed their conscience, rather than them being very conscientious meaning hard working.  

Bucks contribution to the Great War was considerable and it affected practically everyone in some way or other and probably was the first war that did this.  The lives of the civilian population at home were affected in many ways and there is no doubt that it was a Great War, perhaps a Gross War would be a more appropriate term, there is nothing great about war.

 

Chris Bevan   Speaker Secretary Probus Old Beaconsfield

24 MAY 2017

 

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SAMUEL PEPYS aka Dr. Robin Gain

Robin Gain lived and breathed the most interesting life of the Diarist Samuel Pepys as part of our Ladies invitation luncheon on 12 April.  Dressed in full 17th Century regalia topped out with a wonderful head of hair, he entertained and informed us of his trials and tribulations consistent with living in London 300 years ago.  The men crossed their legs and winced when he explained the ins and outs of bladder stone removal surgery without anaesthetics; the story had more gravitas as Robin is a medical doctor.  Samuel Pepys never fathered children and perhaps we can now understand why.

Robin’s huge knowledge of Pepys has been gained over 40 years as a senior member of the Pepys society following his own father in this specific interest.  When answering the many questions from the audience afterwards Robin showed just how thoroughly he had studied Pepys’ life.

 

Chris Bevan  Speaker secretary  13 04 17

 

                     1917 London’s Blitz Year

 

COLIN OAKES

22 March 2017

Another well researched great story of a little known facet of The Great War waged with Germany, now over a century ago, told by Colin Oakes to our attentive audience this morning.

 

Imagine yourself a person living in London 100 years ago with many of your family away in the French trenches fighting daily to repel the German advances.  The war was brought from the front lines not only buy letters home from the troops but by aerial attack on your homes some 100 miles away from the fronts.  German air power terrified Londoners and aimed to destroy morale.  Scared out of their lives they were, but it fuelled their sense of fighting a just war as the Germans had delivered their attacks on civilian adults and their children.

Most feared were the Zeppelin airship bombers and the huge fixed wing Gotha and “R” plane bombers, the latter with a with wing span of 177 feet.  All at a time when most wars a few years earlier had been  fought on horseback at a prescribed battle field. 

Much of London was bombed and this war laid the foundations of the plans to institute air defence systems in the between war periods as the penny (or the bomb) had dropped in military planners’ heads that Bombing was the way to victory.

 

 

German WW1 heavy bomber

Chris Bevan

Speaker secretary Probos Old Beaconsfield

 

“40 YEARS OF SPORTS WRITING”

BRIAN SCOVELL        22 FEB 2017

That famous day in 1066 when England sulked in defeat and nine hundred years later in 1966 when we strutted in victory.  Different enemies and different results but both are still talked about with spirit and pride years later.  Brian journalistically covered the World Cup and the England v West Indies in an enthralling 111 days that summer of 66. 

He contrasted what was happening back in those rock n roll innocent days with the greed and corruption of today that seems to have overtaken the nation’s major sports.

Many of the household names in sport were cited as great examples to the emerging generation of heroes.  Sportsmen who were paid little by today’s standards yet put their sport before their celebrity status.

Brian’s somewhat nostalgic anecdotes amused our audience.  He concluded by relating some of the more risqué encounters that journalists must get used to when dealing with the stars.

He brought along copies of his latest book “The conquests of 1966 by Alf & Gary” which is his 27th in a long line of sports reporting publications.

Chris Bevan Speaker Secretary Probus Old Beaconsfield

 

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THE REAL POWER OF THE MIND

SIMON WILLIAMS    

25 JANUARY 2017

Is it possible to bend metal with your mind?  After this talk you will be none the wiser! 

A light hearted and interactive talk about the real power of our mind and how we learn.   

Simon will teach a couple of learning feats and also try to 'read minds'.

 

Simon didn’t disappoint us and made us laugh and puzzle at his mind reading feats. 

Breaking his personal record by a full [42- 25=17] seconds in completing a magic arithmetical square he showed how using a random number (53) offered to him by a member of our audience he was able to do a “Rachel Riley Countdown like” trick to build a mathematical Sudoku-ish puzzle where all its rows, columns and diagonals summed to make 53.

 

We discovered through him that several audience members had telepathic (aka telepathetic) powers enabling them to project their thoughts to him and others in the audience with remarkable accuracy.... but...all men’s minds think alike I hear you think!

 

Spoons were bent and snapped by the power of Simon’s thoughts in full sight of some of our more observant members called Peter and assisted by one of our committee Peters who tested the spoon by bending it by the power of his arm muscles alone.

 

We were entertained for over an hour in jovial style and a lively discussion followed on how memory works or doesn’t and is hypnotism a real thing or imaginary.

 

 

Christopher Bevan

Speaker secretary

 

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The Story of WW2 Evacuees from German side

Prof. Martin Parsons :  University of Reading, UK.   7th December 2016. See Also his talk 11th May 2016

 

Most people in Britain aged over 75 will remember the evacuation of children to the country from UK cities during World War 2.  Martin lectured to us in May 2016 of the hardships and traumas these poor souls endured when the rest of Britain was fighting against Nazism with the ultimate threat of invasion from Hitler’s Germany.  Many of our Probus members recalled their personal experiences from this period and endorsed Martin’s researches. 

However, sometimes histories are told by the so-called victors and we were left wondering what our German cousins endured and how the children in Germany were treated during WW2.

A thorough detailed account of painstakingly researched material much derived from personal interviews was presented, showing that a mere accident of birth made all the difference between surviving the war, with all its traumatic memories, or being indoctrinated into the Nazi philosophy and militarised into child soldiers who carried on fighting the cause until its and their end.

Hitler initially preached to his nation that their cities were invulnerable and therefore didn’t need to be evacuated.  He even used his propaganda machine to convince the German people that Britain was on-the-run because they evacuated their young to safer parts of the country.  Propaganda that was soon shown to be false as more and more German cities were flattened by British and Allied bombing.

Martin finished his lecture by informing us of a large grant of European money that he and colleagues had been awarded to help train people to help Syrian refugee children to come to terms with the massive traumas of fleeing the recent conflicts in the Middle East.   History seems to have a habit of repeating itself and we now see some 70 years later, a re-playing of the plight of people whose homeland is being invaded and destroyed.

Martin’s lectures and books on these poignant subjects should be essential mandatory listening and reading for our foreign ministers and diplomats.

Sometimes meeting over a meal and a few drinks, as we enjoyed today, allows sanity to prevail in diplomacy and we gain a better understanding of other human beings even if they are considered by some to be our enemy.

 I will close with a well known saying:

“To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”

ATTRIBUTION:   WINSTON CHURCHILL, remarks at a White House luncheon, June 26, 1954. His exact words are not known, because the meetings and the luncheon that day were closed to reporters, but above is the commonly cited version.

Dr. Chris Bevan, Speaker Secretary Probus Old Beaconsfield.

P.S. The mulled wine and mince pies were nice too.....