U3A in London Update – 24 May 2021

This information was published on: May 24, 2021

The Timetable

The timetable and description of classes is available for you to view, to see it click here.

Monday Morning Talk

This Monday’s talk is ‘The Work of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’ by Paul Lautman who is Head of Outreach and joined HMDT in December 2020. Paul’s presentation will focus on the work of HMDT and the relevance of the Holocaust to 2021.

Next week: Late May Bank Holiday May 31 – no Monday morning talk.  Some regular classes will also take a break – details next week.

From Naomi

All the necessary information you should need for our A.G.M. to be held on Monday. 28 June will be emailed to you towards the end of this week. In it will be a resolution we are proposing for your approval to change our constitution regarding the holding of A.G.M.s.  Up until the coronavirus outbreak, these could only be held in person.  The government subsequently introduced emergency legislation for it to be held virtually.  This legislation must be renewed every 6 months.  Our resolution proposes that where the Executive Committee considers that it is not possible to hold a members’ general meeting at which the members meet in person. In this case the resolution gives the Executive Committee the right to hold a virtual meeting. Secondly, where certain members are not able to attend a general meeting in person the resolution will give the right to the Executive Committee to allow those members to participate in the meeting by electronic means (e.g. via Zoom).

We believe it is important that we can offer general meetings on Zoom, as well as in person, and that members, who are not able to attend in person, can do so virtually.  So please attend the A.G.M. and vote for it.

If you cannot attend, there will be a proxy vote form in your mail out.  Please either fill this in and post it to me or email it, giving me, the Chairman, the right to use your proxy as I see fit, which will be to vote in favour of the resolution. 

Best wishes from Naomi.

Timetable News

On Tuesday25 Mayat 10.30,Robin Weiss will begin his series of five talks on Medicine – a germ’s eye view. The talks will address how infectious diseases have affected society and how society has influenced the emergence of epidemics. The first is entitled Pandemics, Past and Present. No scientific knowledge of germs is required! (Christopher Dean has now finished his History of Europe).

In 2 weeks, on June 8 the U3A history walks are back!

The first of two walks is entitled ‘Kilburn and the High Road’. An explanation of this richly fascinating slide of North London straddling the ancient Watling Street. The link will be in the timetable, just click on the link at 2pm on 8th June.

From Stanley Volk

27th May at 12 noon.  “Singing Workshop for all levels”. This will include 10 minutes fun warm-up exercises, singing in harmony and followed by a Sing-Along with the music of Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee.  Come along to sing or just listen. We are now interactive.

Summer Programme 2021

Sue Kwok has started compiling a Summer Programme which will run on Zoom from Monday 19 July to Friday 10 September, with talks at 10:30 – 11:30 am and 2 – 3 pm. If anyone would like to give a talk or thinks they know someone else who might be willing to do so, please do get in touch with Sue.

For the Fans of Wally Howard

Apologies to those of you who were frustrated last week by difficulties in tuning in to Wally’s talks. This week the links to the conclusion of the Panama Affair and final Reflections on Zimbabwe and Zambia can be found in the timetable. Wally has also included a new talk for this week: Reflections on Mauritius.

From Gerta

Gerta and her computer are having a break at the moment. Don’t worry – normal service should be resumed next week.

From Howard Shelter

Hello Group of 40.  I have added another of my compositions to my Youtube public collection. It is a video to which I added my music.

From Chris, Richard and Charlie – your guides to The Tuesday London Virtual History walks

The next walks are on 8 June and 20 July.

Masterpieces from members of Maureen Betts’s Thursday Art Class

From Avril, Sheila and June.

To lift your spirits

At the top – Kenwood in Spring – and below, a picture of Cherry Tree Wood in East Finchley, also in its Spring glory and an azalea bush in Christine Bye’s garden.

To make you smile

Where did Piss Poor come from?

As those of you who come to my Alchemy talks will know, urine was a valuable commodity, needed for tanning animal skins.

Apparently, families used to all pee in a pot – and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery.  If you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor”.  But worse than that were the very poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot.  They “didn’t have a pot to piss in” and were the lowest of the low.

Here is some more historical information:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May when winter was over, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell again later, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide their body odour. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.Baths were a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the sons and other men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By this time, the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs made of thick straw. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall down. Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh and to stop it spreading outside, a piece of wood was placed in the entrance. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the 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 for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start again the next day. Sometimes 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 add 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.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing death by lead poisoning. This happened often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or 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.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out and the family would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and everyone would gather round and eat and drink and wait and see if they woke up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

Centuries ago, when people started running out of places for burial they would dig up coffins and take the bones to a bone-house and re-use the grave. When reopening these coffins, some were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realised they had been burying people alive.  So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, pass one end of the string 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; thus, someone could be “saved by the bell” or was considered a “dead ringer”.

Who said History was boring?

More ‘photographer photographed’ pictures:

I work at Maggie’s Royal Free, a cancer centre in the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. We provide free cancer support to anyone who needs it through our programme of support. www.maggies.org   We are looking for some volunteers to help us in the centre with meet and greet for the visitors that come in and to help with some administrative tasks

Many thanks,
(Centre Fundraising Manager)
Telephone 07725497253

Photography Project at The Postal Museum 

The Postal Museum at Mount Pleasant, near Kings Cross, are looking for help with the photography element of their project, Addressing Health, which focusses on understanding the health of postal workers between 1858 and 1908. The museum will re-open on 17th May and from the start of June they are looking for help from U3A members in the London area.

We need to photograph the pension records of approximately 28,000 post office workers between 1858 and 1908. There are usually four pages for each person. The documents are bound into large volumes and will be marked out for the person taking the photograph. These records provide us with information about a person’s sickness records as well as their reason for retirement from the Post Office and their personal details. We are using this information to find out about health and sickness in the workforce, as described in the recent U3A magazine.

We also need help with cropping the images and ensuring that they are of sufficient quality and the correct size to upload to the Zooniverse platform, where we have a project webpage to help us transcribe the data for each person. This will involve us sending people some images and for them to check their quality and crop using freely available software. We’ll provide instructions on how to do that and cover the cost of any licenses if needed. This can be done from someone’s home whereas the photography has to be undertaken at The Postal Museum itself near Mount Pleasant in Clerkenwell.

We need to have these photographs (i) to create a permanent digital resource for The Postal Museum and (ii) so that we can upload them to a platform called Zooniverse where we can have them transcribed. When we ran our project the first time a couple of months ago we had over 1500 volunteers transcribe some of the years for which we had images. We ran out images very quickly and so we’re now building them up again ready for another series of transcription events.

We have a high quality digital camera linked to a laptop where the images will initially be stored.  The camera is already set up and training will be provided by the archivists on how to handle the archives, and by the Museum’s own photographer. The work will take place in a Covid-safe place with all precautions to ensure safety. We plan to have a rota of volunteers which will be managed by The Postal Museum’s volunteer manager. Only one volunteer will be allowed in the room at any one time, together with a member of the Addressing Health team. All will be done at a safe social distance. We can provide a reimbursement for travel of up to £10 a day and also cover subsistence on the day.

Thank you in advance and if you need any further information please let me know. 
Professor David Green

From London Region of U3As

University of Westminster: Invitation to participate – Chelsea Physic Garden project

We would like to invite you to take part in our online research project, about an inclusive online tour of the Chelsea Physic Garden. Below you will find full details about the study, and we hope it will be of interest to you. 

Nestled in the heart of London, next to the River Thames, the Chelsea Physic Garden has been an important site for plant collections since 1673. Today, it is a place to relax and unwind in nature as well as to explore the history of London’s oldest botanic garden.

With Covid-19 impacting on our ability to visit historic gardens in person, we wanted to explore ways to bring the Chelsea Physic Garden to people at home. We have created an inclusive video tour which introduces you to the delights that this unique heritage site has to offer. By taking part in the study, you will provide invaluable feedback to help us, and the Chelsea Physic Garden, understand how to develop engaging and inclusive online tours. Our objective is to develop ways for us all to access and enjoy our cultural heritage at home.

Taking part in the study involves the following:

Step 1: complete a short online questionnaire (5 minutes) which collects a few details about you and your email address, ready for when we need to contact you for Step 4

Step 2: watch the video tour of the Chelsea Physic Garden on YouTube (15 minutes)

Step 3: straight after watching it, complete an online questionnaire which asks for your opinions about it (15 minutes)

Step 4: two weeks later, we will send you a final short follow up questionnaire (10 minutes)

We anticipate the study taking a total of approximately 45 minutes of your time in total.  If you would like to, you can choose to be entered into a prize draw to win a £200 Amazon voucher, upon completion of the study.To take part, please click on the link below to start. This link will take you to the first questionnaire (Step 1). Once you complete this, you will be redirected to the video on YouTube. The link to the second questionnaire, which you will complete after watching the video (Step 3), is listed in the comments section under the video. In case you have difficulties accessing it there, you can also find it at the end of this email. Please note that you can make the video full screen if you want to by clicking on the icon at the bottom right of the screen (it is the icon at the far right of the row of 6 icons)

Click on this link to start the study: https://westminsterpsych.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_doRHwfOOfVsKJlX

Best Wishes from the Team