U3A in London Update – 14 March 2022

This information was published on: March 14, 2022

Monday Morning Talk:

We look forward to hearing from David Barnett who will be talking about the wonderful Lady Judith Montefiore.

Please note that on April 4, Susan Cohen will be speaking about Eleanor Rathbone: The woman behind the portrait. This is the fourth of four talks about famous women in this Spring programme.

Extraordinary General Meeting:

Approximately 90 Members led by Herbie Goldberg have asked us to call an Extraordinary General Meeting.   It will be by Zoom on 24 March 2022 at 5pm.

There are 7 proposals: (for more detail, please read the ‘Calling Note’ sent to you last week by email)

  1. To thank Naomi for 8 years’ chairmanship
  2. To require the Executive Committee (EC) to negotiate a lease for the cafe and kitchen from Wacarts
  3. To prevent the EC from paying moneys other than rent to WacArts without asking consent from the Members
  4. To express concern about payments (£330k) to WacArts in 2017/18
  5. To express disquiet about descriptions of these payments and their relationship to the 20 year lease
  6. To investigate the payments independently and report back to the Executive Committee and Membership
  7. To instruct a solicitor to investigate U3A in London’s position should WacArts become insolvent.

Do come to join the discussion and register your vote. If you cannot attend in person, you may appoint a proxy to attend and vote at the meeting in your stead; a proxy need not be a member of U3A in London. If you do not name a proxy, the chairman may vote on your behalf.  Remember whether you are voting on Zoom or by proxy your membership number will be required.

It is very important to complete the form and hand it into the Office or post it to the Town Hall for the attention of Hazelanne Lewis, Company Secretary by 12 noon on Monday 21/3/22.

From Hazelanne Lewis

If you share a Zoom account with someone in your household, only one vote from that account will be valid. Will the other person please send in a completed Proxy Form so that their vote can be counted?

From David Bramson (our legal advisor)

There is still, unfortunately, misinformation and rumour circulating in our U3Aabout the payment of £330,000 made to WacArts.  We emailed the facts last week, but in case you did not see them, here is a summary:

In 2015, our lease was due to expire in five years and the Committee started exploring ideas for our accommodation.  At that time, the WacArts management were not prepared to negotiate a long term relationship.  We approached Camden Council to explore alternatives. There was none available and the cost of conversion of other premises to suit our needs would have been unaffordable. However, in 2017 the new management of WacArts indicated that they might be prepared to negotiate. By this time, the boilers providing heating and hot water to the building were creating real problems.  There were other serious problems in the building – for example the electrical wiring was unsatisfactory, some of the walls in our rooms were damaged by damp and there were insufficient toilets. The financial position of WacArts was very shaky and their weak bargaining position enabled us to agree that, in return for a capital payment to enable them to carry out these essential works (paid against architects’ certificates), we would be granted a lease to 2040.

The arrangement was very satisfactory for us because:-

  1. We had secured our future at The Town Hall until 2040
  2. The agreed rent was subject only to increase in accordance with the Retail Price Index every 5 years, but not subject to a market review which represented a considerable financial saving.
  3. During the whole term of the lease we agreed a reduction of 5% of the assessed rent. Obviously this was another substantial saving.
  4. The capital payment we made assured us that the building would be properly heated immediately. This had become a major concern to our members over the winter months.
  5. We would not have to face paying for dilapidations at the end of the existing lease, which was estimated to be expensive. Nor might we have the problem of finding alternative accommodation the cost of which might have considerably exceeded the capital payment which we were making.
  6. We employed a reputable firm of practising solicitors to draw up the lease – and
  7. The arrangement was endorsed and passed by the Executive Committee, and the accounts were approved by the auditors, by members at the AGM and filed with Companies House and the Charity Commission.

The next Executive Committee Meeting (on Zoom)

Observers are welcome on Friday 18 March at 10.30. 

From Wally Howard

Film classes for week commencing Monday 14 March

A varied programme again this week which starts with Monday’s documentary Im Himmel unter der Erde directed by Britta Wauer which tells the history of Weissensee Jewish Cemetery created in 1880 and situated just north of Berlin.  It is the largest Jewish cemetery still in use and has many famous inhabitants as well as normal folk within its sylvan grounds.  The memorials also reflect this, ranging from simple gravestones to magnificent mausoleums as well as some gravestones designed by the likes of Mies van de Rohe and Walter Gropius.  During their visits Britta Wauer and her cameraman, Kaspar Kopke discovered a place overflowing with life and their documentary intertwines the history of the cemetery, Berlin, Germany and Jewishness with tales from around the world of those who visit it.  A beautiful film about a magical place.

Marriage Story (Wednesday 16 March) was Mark Kermode’s film of the week and at the time of its release he described it as being “Noah Baumbach’s best film yet”!  Whilst his first critically acclaimed film The Squid and the Whale was a child’s-eye view of a family family apart, Marriage Story is a portrait of an imploding marriage “from the perspective of a couple for whom custody of their child becomes an increasingly fractious issue”.  The film is insightful and sympathetic with humour and warmth throughout  and at its centre are wonderful performances by Scarlett Johnansson and Adam Driver, ably supported by Laura Dern, Ray Liotta and Alan Alda. 

Oci Ciornie (Thursday 17 March) is a 1987 Italian and Russian film based on several of Chekhov’s short stories.  Set in the years before the First World War, this beautiful film, shot on location in Russia and Italy, stars Marcello Mastroianni as Romano Patroni,a married Italian who falls in love with a married Russian woman in this bittersweet love story.  The film opens with Romano recounting the tale of his doomed love affair to a stranger on a cruise ship. Roger Ebert in his review described the film as being “intriguing because of its moral complexity”.  He went on to say “After it’s over you find yourself asking many hard questions about who did right and who did wrong” with the ending of the film being “A real stunner”. I hope you are suitably intrigued.

Do join me in Room 1.22 at 2.00pm next week to see some or all of these films.

Regards, Wally

From Jo Rapkin

As a pilot scheme, from this Tuesday I shall be filling up the common room’s fridge with some cakes, sandwiches and quiche portions. They will all be individually packed, labeled, dated and priced. There will be an honesty box available should you want to purchase those items. This is a once weekly trial run and if it proves popular, I will be more than happy to increase its frequency to twice-weekly delivery.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Alternatively, you will be able to leave any comments in the box as well. Best wishes. Jo

Note from the Office: It is your responsibility and extremely important to leave the room clean and tidy. 

From Ken Baldry

European History Wednesday at 11:40 in Room 2.21.  This week, we will look at Scandinavia from 1340 to 1470 and how printing came to Western Europe. With 87 slides and a musical example, (not contemporary alas but illustrating a contemporary story).  

From Stephen Barry

The London Miscellany talk on Thursday March 17 is entitled “When London’s post went underground.”

From Kaoru Godoy

Japanese Third Year (Zoom, 10:30-11:30) and Japanese First Year (Zoom, 11:40-12:40). Neither class will take place on Wednesday 23 March. All current students will be notified. Japanese Fourth Year and Beyond is cancelled and may return next term.

From Valerie Wilson-Trower

The Design History group will be visiting The Salter’s Hall (a wonderful example of Brutalist architecture) on 29 March.  Members will be sent instructions with a map for everyone. 

Do let Valerie know if you have any queries. 

Zooming In

You can, if you wish, “Zoom in” on your smartphone, iPad or laptop to a coordinator who is giving a Zoom class from home, wherever you may be. However, if you want to join in from a screen in one of our rooms in the Town Hall this can easily be set up.  It’s not difficult – you only need to switch on, click on the Zoom icon and know the meeting ID and the passcode which you can find in the full Timetable. All we need is to have a “Zoom Buddy” in each class to set it up. 

Zooming Out

(enabling in-person classes in the Town Hall to be available to Zoom viewers at home}. So far, rooms 1.33 and 2.21 are set up to enable this. Managing it, however, does need some training. Let us know if you are interested.

From Amalia

My fortnightly Alchemy to Chemistry course (14.00 on Tuesdays in room 1.33 and Zoom) has finished and I hope the members who attended have enjoyed it as much as I have.  Last time we met, we agreed that I would begin a series of talks on the History of Astronomy next term.  I suggested that, for the rest of this term, I would fill in with some one-off talks.  The next one will be on March 22 about the Russian/American race to dominate space and the launch of “Sputnik”.  Rather topical, I fear, in the present situation!

From David Castle

The Chess Club is now meeting every two weeks on Friday at 10.30 in Room 1.33.  The next meetings will be on 25 March, 8 April and so on.  Expertise is not required – do come and join us!

To make you smile

From Ron Tucker

John Travolta tested negative for coronavirus last night. Turns out it was just Saturday night fever.
The World Health Organization has announced that dogs cannot contract Covid-19. Dogs previously held in quarantine can now be released. To be clear, WHO let the dogs out.
I saw an advertisement for burial plots, and thought to myself – that’s the last thing I need.
Intelligence is like underwear. It is important that you have it, but not necessary that you show it off.
Relationships are a lot like algebra. Have you ever looked at your X and wondered Y?
A courtroom artist was arrested today for an unknown reason. Details are sketchy.
People are making end of the world jokes like there’s no tomorrow.
Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you’re donating blood.


Best Wishes from Gilli and Amalia