U3A in London Update – 20 April 2020

This information was published on: April 22, 2020

Here is your weekly update.  Remember, if you would like to contribute to the next update, please email the Office at office@u3alondon.org.uk  as we can pick up the emails from home.  Or contact amaliamichaels@gmail.com or naomi_stuart@yahoo.com

Thanks to your generosity, Susan Cohen has sent another instalment to Joanna Rapkin’s bank account.  For those of you who still wish to contribute, the details of the dedicated account are: are available.  Cheques are also welcome.

Here is another lovely letter from Joanna:

Hello everyone at U3A,

I hope you are all well and staying strong.  Once again, I would like to thank everyone who kindly supported myself and my staff in these difficult times, with their most generous and kind gesture. It is greatly appreciated and will never be forgotten.

I would like to let you all know that I’m planning to resume some sort service just as soon as it is possible and safe to do so. Supermarkets’ delivery slots are beginning to open up, and hopefully, soon it will be possible to gain access to the kitchen too. When this happens, I think I will be able to organise food deliveries to those who might be interested; perhaps on a weekly/fortnightly basis with a minimum order in place (but no maximum). Home made meals for your fridge and/or freezer will be available, as well as soup, quiche and, of course, cake.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from those who are interested in this kind of service, stating where they live (approximate area – don’t need full address just yet), so I can start working out my logistics.  I will also be speaking to Piotr – WAC Arts building manager – to find out a potential, estimated date for a possible access.

I will be in touch as soon as any ‘concrete’ information is available.

Best wishes and love, Joanna

One of our committee members has discovered that one of her “Buddies” didn’t know who Joanna Rapkin was – not surprising if she joined recently.  Most of you don’t need reminding that Joanna is in charge of our cafeteria and that she and her staff provide the most delicious home-cooked food for us to enjoy each day and on special occasions.  Her recipes are so original and her cakes are legendary (she assures me that they are not in the least bit fattening!).

It also occurred to me that some of you may have found my reference to Ralph Blumenau and Ruth Scott a bit puzzling,  Again, for those of you who joined us recently, Ralph was a phenomenon, giving three classes a week well into his 90s for many years (he was already well established when I joined in 1991!).  He was amazingly popular, attracting audiences of over 100 members and we were shattered when he decided for various reasons that he was too old to continue.  Ruth Scott, with her husband Derek (who sadly died), was in charge of finding speakers for and organising our Monday Talks and our annual Easter Conference for many years.  Again, we were, at first, at a loss when he became ill but the U3A spirit kicked in!  Our thanks are due first of all to Ken Baldry who is always there whenever we need him and to Tom Harris, Christopher Dean and Robin Weiss who are now filling Ralph’s slot.  Moreover, Gilli Vafidis came to the rescue of the Monday talks (helped by Barry Rae, Ron Tucker, Jan Potter and Leo Bernstein).  Giili finds speakers, apparently with no trouble at all, and in addition organises the Easter Conferences.  There is no limit to her patience and commitment – and now, of course, she is “The Queen of Zoom”!

News of Gerta.   She had a nasty fall at home, cracked her pelvis and was taken to the Royal Free where she stayed for a week. You will be relieved to hear that she is now back at home, in a lot of pain but coping.  Gerta is another phenomenon, in her 90s and Queen of the database.  She had to learn a new system when Herbie brought it up to date and – well – suffice it to say that they are now good friends!  (Mentioning Herbie reminds me that as a result of his work in bringing the database up to date, you are now getting this email each week as he is able to send it to you from his home).

Gerta is our proof-reader “par excellence”; no error in the Handbook, Newsletter or Bulletin escapes her eagle eye.  She vainly attempts to keep the Office volunteers under control (they are always doing something wrong but they love her dearly).  In addition, she stands in when they can’t turn up, sometimes buys the milk, makes the tea, collects the post; you name it, she does it!

Click here for her quiz this week.  Click here for the answers (don’t cheat!)  Welcome back, Gerta!

Message from Wally Howard:

Hi All.

Many thanks for your responses and enthusiasm for my series of talks on miscarriages of justice.

There will be 4 or 5 sessions and I thought it might be easier to post them on vimeo so that you will have the flexibility to listen to them at any time.  I have sent out details to my class list and it might be of interest to other members.  The talks are about antisemitism in France and the Dreyfus affair.  The link to the second talk is  https://vimeo.com/407918515 All people have to do is click on the link.  The link to the first talk was https://vimeo.com/405852964.  If you have technical problems with this you can contact my daughter Lyana by emailing  filmclassesu3alondon@gmail.com

Kind Regards,  Wally

Bridge   Apologies: there was a mistake in the Bridge announcement in the last Update. It’s Bernard Magee and not McGhee.  You can go back to the first Live Stream on Monday, 30 March by clicking on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1ZFz…  where you will also find links to the subsequent  broadcasts. The broadcasts can also be found on Bernard’s YouTube channel Bernard Magee BridgeThere are now over 5000 people watching them.

Message from Michael Baum:                                                                                                                       This is an article by him published last week in the Spectator about – guess what? – the corona virus pandemic.  Click on https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-feoolishness-of-comparing-different-countries-coronavirus-outcomes

Members write:

From Jenny Bartlett   I have found that I am a good hunter gatherer and enjoy the search for something useful when I go out. I no longer have an aim in mind (loo rolls, pasta etc) but am happy if I find frozen peas or bread. My hunt takes me along the river which is so peaceful now. There are no boats running and pairs of swans glide by, their lives unchanged.
I wonder how others are managing?   Best wishes to you all, Jenny.

From Katharine Carreaux  (getting our updates in Canada).  You are incredible! What an uplifting message. I don’t go out for days on end (since 13th March – Canadian recommendation and it’s worked there and for me so far!) but this felt warm and personal and I can’t wait to become more involved with our U3A when we can come back.

From Louise Moss   I am among the group that was asked by the government to stay at home.  I live alone and within days, I felt depressed, lonely and cut off from society, so I started Writers Against Covid -19.  It is an initiative to help all those feeling isolated at this time, and who may be separated from family and friends.  Each day, a new short story is published on the website, selected to bring a smile to the face and lift the spirits. Top stories this week are:   A New Chapter:  Contemplating a fresh start Pomegranate:  An evocative story about a cat that came to stay  No Time for Tea: A true story, the spirit of the Blitz. The stories and details of how to submit them are on http://www.louisemoss.com

From Hazelanne Lewis who found a topical poem about you-know-what.  Look up Pam Ayres’ Virus Poem on Google – it will raise a smile!

From Shafeeq Siddiqui   Regarding his Stories Behind the Headlines.  I have a video library of classes on the Theme of ‘Post Pandemic World ‘.  They include: on 6 April 2020,  Some Thoughts – click on https://youtu.be/t-lKDgHVecw and on 13 April 2020, Global Internet Starlink click on https://youtu.be/uCv5aTxxi7w

As so many around the world, I’ve been caught up in the exploits and adventures of Captain Tom (Moore).  Going viral is not predictable, but in his case, it is so well deserved.  We’re living through his fairy tale and I so hope it has a wonderful ending.  Apart from the incredible fundraising he has generated, there is so much to be gained from understanding his motivation and actions.  He has shown everyone that being old, if you consider 99 to be that, doesn’t mean that you have nothing to contribute.  There had already been many examples of kindness before he embarked on walking around his garden to pay tribute to his local NHS staff.  However, the consequences of those first steps are extraordinary and have set off sparks that have captured our imaginations and stirred others, both young and old, to take the initiative and help to make this world a kinder and more caring place.

Captain Tom is my ideal member of U3A.  He is modest, full of integrity, caring and compassionate, but his feet are on the ground, so that he’s learnt from experience and has developed a positive attitude.  Above all, he is a true gentleman.  It is patently obvious that throughout his entire life his motivation is to return the kindness of others with his genuine gratitude, self-gain plays no part in his make-up.  Watching and listening to this endearing man has given us wise words to ponder on, comfort and pleasure.

The purpose and results of our newsletter are very modest compared to those of Captain Tom.  Nevertheless, all of us involved want our members to know that we care for them as individuals and that we are here to listen and try to help each and everyone of you.  Please treat us as family or friends and not as distant strangers.  Whenever this shutdown ends, and it will, we will all celebrate together.  If you’ve got any ideas on how, please let us know!