U3A in London Update – 24 January 2022

This information was published on: January 24, 2022

A lovely Australian sunset to cheer you up

From Gilli

This week’s Monday talk is by our very own coordinator, Irene Kyffin.  Her subject is ‘The Beginnings of Ancient Theatre in Ritual and Worship’.

From Naomi

On Monday 31 January we return to the Town Hall with in-person classes. This was the unanimous decision of the committee. Although some would have been prepared to come back earlier, there were not sufficient coordinators and officer volunteers of that opinion to make this a practical option. The extra week should also lessen further the risks in returning.

This extra week of closure gives Amalia a little more time to make the idea of a Common Room a reality. You are all aware by now that Jo has informed Wac Arts that she is no longer able to continue running the cafeteria. This is very upsetting for many of our members. There is no way that a Common Room should be regarded as a substitute for the cafeteria. In fact, it was an idea we were hoping to put into practice alongside the cafeteria when the Atrium became so noisy. We have fast forwarded our idea because there is now no alternative space for most of our members to socialise.

Room 1.29 is to become our Common Room starting on 31 January. Apart from the radical changes to the timetable it will be a huge task to change the room into the way we envisage it. At first it will be just a room with chairs, available from 10.00 every day and you can see it develop its character week by week.

I was delighted to welcome Jo Rapkin this week as our latest member. She is person loved by so many of us and we look forward to her joining our classes. Moreover, she will be a valuable asset to us with her expertise. She has agreed most enthusiastically to head a small group of members in setting up and organising our Common Room. This will surely speed up the process.

I look forward to seeing you again in the Town Hall soon.

Best wishes, Naomi

A message from Jo Rapkin

Dear All

It is with a heavy heart and with great sadness that my working relationship with Wac Arts has ended. Therefore, I am no longer able to run the Atrium Cafe in the Old Town Hall as I have done for the last 12 years, providing food, cakes and service to U3A members until I retired. The problems from the beginning of the term could not be resolved, and the only decision that I could make was to go.

I have loved getting to know many of you by name, your favourite meals, how you like your coffee and even the cups you prefer. I have visited your homes, catered special celebrations and family lunches. I am so grateful for all the support I have received during these 12 years and especially in the recent months. I don’t know how to express my appreciation for making me feel really proud of my work while doing what I love. No one could ask for more and for that, I’ll forever be indebted. I feel truly blessed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Although I’ve ended my relationship with Wac Arts, I am delighted to say I have not ended my relationship with you. On the contrary: as you will know from Naomi’s note, I am now a proud member of this U3A. I have the opportunity and the time to attend some classes and I shall look forward to seeing some of you there. I would also like to coordinate my own class if I can think of a possible subject (I welcome suggestions). If the opportunity arose, I would be back in the cafeteria at the drop of a hat.

I have been asked to arrange the setting up of the common room. Of course I gladly agreed and I look forward to meeting you there. I am also available for all your catering needs: birthdays, dinners, lunches, christenings, bar mitzvahs and weddings – or just a get-together with friends. Please do not hesitate to contact me for a chat or a query.

From Amalia

In order to create a Common Room in 1.29, which we feel is essential in the circumstances outlined above by Naomi, I have attempted a mammoth re-jigging of the Town Hall timetable.  I have also tried to re-locate most classes that were in Rooms 1.28 and 1.30 as they may be noisy if the Common room is popular – as I hope it will be!

This has only become a possibility as a result of the reduction in the use of our rooms.  The proposed changes are in the summary timetable (shown in red).  Wherever possible I have consulted the coordinators affected by the change and they have agreed to give it a try.  Most classes are at the same time and I have tried to re-locate classes to suitable-sized rooms.

There will be a new version of the Handbook showing class descriptions, which will be available when the changes are agreed. 

I apologise if there are any errors as I have probably made quite a few.  Please let me know if you spot any.  The Zoom list is largely unchanged.

From Wally Howard

Dear All,

I am sorry that we were unable to meet last week but look forward to seeing you again from Monday 31 January.  The films being shown at 2pm that week are as follows:

Monday 31st January – The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) 82 minutes.   This fantasy-comedy drama, based on a 1898 short story by HG Wells who himself worked on the film adaptation, centres on George Fotheringay who receives near limitless powers from a group of supernatural beings.  The film then follows the events which arise from this celestial intervention in human life!  Frank Nugent writing in the New York Times described this film as a “delightfully humorous fantasy with an undertone of sober Wellsian philosophy”.  

Wednesday 2 February The Emigrants (1971) 180 minutes  Jan Troell’s epic masterpiece is made up of dozens of moments when hope and reality clash as a group of friends and family from Sweden decide to emigrate to the USA in the mid 19th century.  Roger Ebert described it as ‘a rare and special film with perfect casting in Max von Sydow and Liv Ullman who with the rest of the excellent cast bring a purity and grit and a depth of purpose to their roles”.  A truly wonderful film

Thursday 3 February IDA (2013) 82 minutes  Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian awarded this film 5* and described it as being “An eerily beautiful road movie”.  Set in 1962, Anna is about to take her final vows in the remote convent where she was left as a baby in 1945.  Before making this irrevocable decision, the Mother Superior suggests that Anna contacts her only surviving relative.  The relative, Aunt Wanda, reveals that Anna was originally named Ida Lebenstein and proposes that they go on a road trip to discover what became of Ida’s parents during the war.  In his review, Peter Bradshaw wrote “Ida is a compelling film which achieves a great deal in a short time”.  In 2015 Ida won both an Oscar and BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film.

From Ai Li

My desktop publishing is growing really fast and my workload is increasing to the point that I have a severe backlog which will take weeks or months to clear. With this in mind, I am writing to say that sadly, I will not be able to continue with my Cherita writing class on Mondays at the U3A. With the in-person classes due to start on 31 January, I thought it best to let you know quickly of my intention to terminate my class as of now. I will definitely consider coming back to the U3A to teach Cherita again if and when my workload eases to a point where I am able to allocate time for this class again.

Best wishes, Ai Li

From Mary Rossiter

Those of you who were in the Medicine Today class previously will remember Leo Bernstein who died on 3 January, and I have conveyed your best wishes to his widow Yvonne.  She would be happy to receive phone calls.  She hopes to come to U3A in person in due course and we will be delighted to welcome her back.

From Julian Wall (Errol’s son)

Errol‘s end was very peaceful.  He was asleep in his own bed and gently slipped into unconsciousness.  I was able to be with him for the final few hours.  In accordance with his wishes I am arranging a simple woodland burial in the same location that Mary (his wife) was buried last month.  He did not want to have a funeral service, grave marker or memorial,   Should you wish to make a gesture then he did suggest the Rennie Grove Hospice which was so helpful to Mary in her last few weeks.

From Marie Firestone

I attend a morning zoom informal chat group every Friday morning at 10.30am. Please could it be put in the programme inviting other members to join us. The meeting is hosted by Jim Taylor.

From Maggie fletcher

The Proust Group is a Zoom only group that meets once a fortnight on a Wednesday afternoon alternating with the Modern and Contemporary Literature Group.  A number of people have sought to join but have dropped out very quickly.  A more detailed explanation of the group’s purpose may avoid disappointment.  This group is well advanced in a close analytical study of Proust’s novel series In Search of Lost time.  We are now part way through the second volume In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower.  Anyone wishing to join the group at this stage will need to have read at least the first two volumes of the series. 

Many thanks.
Maggie Fletcher (Zoom host for the group).

From Janet Baker

I am the coordinator for Poetry Please, which is held via Zoom on Thursday mornings. I have recently had several requests to join the group but the way in which the programme is presented means that we really are full at the moment.  An announcement will be made when vacancies arise.

Kind regards, Janet

From Eric Mentzer

The social bridge sessions for this year will be on Friday afternoons as usual and will take place in Room 1.24 by the U3A office.  Tea/coffee and biscuits will be available for 30 pence.

From Irene Fuchs

There two members of French classes I attend who died just before Christmas and I wondered if it would be possible to mention their names in the next Update. I appreciate that you don’t write about people unless they were high profile members but did wonder if just a mention of the names would be possible especially at this time when people don’t get to see others easily and so might not be aware of this sad news.

The people concerned are Roisin Prasad who died on December 22nd and Vicki Walton who died on December 16th.

With thanks and best regards,
Irene Fuchs

More masterpieces from Maureen Betts’ Thursday Art group

From Thea, Maureen and Rosa.

To make you smile

More facts about the 1500s

In those days they cooked in a big pot that hung over the kitchen fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.  Hence the rhyme, ‘Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old’.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could ‘bring home the bacon’.  They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and ‘chew the fat’.

Some plates were made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and possibly death. This happened with tomatoes, so tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the ‘upper crust’.

Imbibers who drank too much ale or whisky were sometimes knocked out for a couple of days. They might be taken for dead and prepared for burial and were laid out on the kitchen table.  The family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of ‘holding a wake’.

The family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of ‘holding a wake’.

When they ran out of places to bury people, they would dig up coffins, take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, some were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized people had been buried alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell.  They were ‘saved by the bell’ and considered a …dead ringer.


Best Wishes from the Team