U3A in London Update – 4 May 2020

This information was published on: May 04, 2020

Monday Morning Talks

We are considering resuming our Monday Morning Talks by means of Zoom, with those speakers who agree to do so. Gilli is preparing a list of speakers but for technical reasons we do need to know how many of you would be interested in joining these sessions. In case you have never used Zoom before, it’s very simple to set it up; you receive an invitation by e-mail for each session and that contains a ‘click here’ link. You just click on it; if this is your first time using Zoom, you are asked if it’s all right to install Zoom software on your PC. When you say ‘Yes’, the software installation should take less than a minute and you are then asked if you want to join the session. It’s as easy as that. At the end of the session, there will be a Question and Answer session if the speaker agrees.

If you would be interested in participating, please reply to this e-mail (not to the Office e-mail) and before sending the reply, please put just the word ‘YES’ in the subject line.

Morning coffee on Zoom

If you want to join others for a chat on Friday mornings at 11.00, starting on Friday, 15 May, please email us. Naomi will pass on your contact details to the friendly host of these gatherings.

Naomi is hoping to organise more sessions of “putting the world to rights” or just having a good laugh together. If you are interested in becoming a host or find the idea appealing but are not quite sure, please email Naomi by Wednesday 6.00 p.m. so that she can set up Zoom chats with small groups of you on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning to discuss the project. Please state which day you prefer. Remember, Friday is a Bank Holiday, so you might be planning to be doing or watching something special. If you would prefer her to telephone you, please let her know and send her your number. When more gatherings have been organised, those of you wishing to join them, will be given the opportunity to do so through future updates. Then you too will have the chance to relax and make new friends.

As always, we would like you to contribute to this update. You can send an email to the Office at office@u3alondon.org.uk as we can pick up the emails from home. Your contribution doesn’t have to be clever or important – but we prefer something cheerful rather than something miserable.

Wally is continuing his Vimeo presentations. Here is this week’s talk:

A message from Gerta

I thought we would have something different this week, so have a look at Quiz 5.

If it’s not to your taste, general knowledge will be resumed next week. And here are the answers. I’m still moving about with a zimmer and in pain but hoping for improvement one of these days.

From Gilli

Her weekly timetable of on-line classes can be found by contacting the Office.

Gilli writes:

I now have about 8 of this term’s speakers prepared to give their Monday Morning Talk (MMT) on Zoom at 10.30 each Monday. It doesn’t sound as if many of them have used the medium before, but I am happy to give them practice and to support them through the talk….questions and all that.

From Tom Harris

I am so grateful to you all for offering to help with my suggested U3A living history project, whether by providing editorial assistance or by contributing your own diary thoughts. As I made clear at the outset, this mad idea was only going to work if we had lots of offers to share people’s thoughts and memories of the crisis we are living through. As I have warned each of you as you stepped up to the plate, there has been overall a very disappointing response given the number of members our U3A branch has.

Very reluctantly, I have therefore decided that we simply don’t have enough material to make it worth our while. I am not therefore going to pursue the project. Instead I’m enjoying preparing another U3A lecture series to keep me busy.

I am, however, very grateful for your kind comments and offers of help

Kind Regards, Tom

From Joanna

In reply to a member who wrote to her as follows:

Hi Joanna

My partner will be 75 soon and I cannot buy flour anywhere – would it be possible to have a chocolate cake baked for this special birthday? How much would it cost etc? Delivery – can it be delivered? I would also be grateful if anyone has a bright idea of what we can do on that day. Apart from chocolate cake, he likes any sweet, he also enjoys music, theatre and the arts – we cannot go anywhere. We spend our time repairing our house plus crosswords, sudoku and playing the keyboard etc

Joanna replied:

Hello lovely people in the U3A office.

Thank you for your updates. I have contacted this member – it’s a ‘yes’ to her cake enquiry – it will be my pleasure. If you know of anyone else who really badly needs a bit of a mood lift with a cake of my production, please let me know and I shall try my best to help (it will be a gift as my way to say thank you). I shall also make a donation to Captain Tom’s birthday campaign today.

I hope you are all well and safe.



From Susan Cohen

I have just made what I think will be the last transfer to Joanna, and want to thank all of our wonderful members who made donations.

On another note altogether. I have accepted a commission – rashly (because of the difficulty of accessibility to the archives of the Wellcome library and the very short turn around!) – to write a potted social history of the NHS for Shire, with whom I have worked many times in the past. It occurs to me that there may be members who have some anecdotes, recollections of the early days, either as staff or patients, that they might be happy to share with me. I don’t have time to undertake a proper oral history project, but I’d be delighted if anyone would like to e-mail the Office,  Anything that was included would be anonymised.

Thanks a million,


About Ruth Brook

Did you realise that we have our own Captain Tom? Ruth Brook is not quite as old – but very nearly- and she has been walking 2 kilometres every day to raise money for Jewish Care. She has been interviewed by the Ham & High and today (Sunday) she was featured on LBC. She had included a “plug” for our U3A, but that was cut. In her email she wrote:

Dear Amalia,

I am really sorry they cut the interview; it’s a risk you take, of course. The fact is that it would have confirmed what some of the other contributors had said, about the need/wish to contribute to being very much alive in the Third Age – and that we can continue to be useful; quite apart from U3A deserving a boost. I was asked about my group and spoke highly of what U3A does. Better luck next time. Maybe my interview in the Ham & High could be used to get some publicity there?

Just a thought.



To return to Gilli who is full of ideas and has another suggestion. How about a Desert Island Discs GOLDEN YEARS PROJECT? This would be a collective project between the younger generation and the over 65 age-group. While forced inside – why not create a nostalgic network of music for people to reminisce, dance and share between them? It would be similar to Desert Island Discs

The link is Sabrina Jones who would like you to think about 8 -12 songs which bring up memories for you. A book full of the memories, song choices and pictures will be sent to each participant, along with a CD of the music. Additionally, there will be a web page where music choices can be listened to online. If interested, please email the Office.   (Sabrina is also happy to receive ‘memories and music’ by post or by phone). Gilli has her contact details.

Happy Birthday

Many members have been celebrating birthdays during this isolation – not able to go out or to be with family and friends to celebrate. We want you to know we are thinking of all of you who have celebrated or are celebrating anniversaries. We are sending you big birthday and anniversary wishes.

Missing People?

Some of you have become anxious because you have trying to telephone or email other members and seem to be getting no response. You can try emailing the Office at office@u3alondon.org.uk as your request will be forwarded to Herbie. He has access to the database at home (which is how you are getting these updates) and can perhaps find an alternative telephone number or emergency contact details

From Katie Whitcomb

A group of us wondered if you could mention the Covid 19 Tracker App in the next U3A newsletter? Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London set this up with the app makers Zoe and their details can be found at covid.joinzoe.com I expect you know his statistical work has great relevance during the Covid outbreak and he has asked for more people in our age range for his studies. A bonus for U3A people is that tracker users are likely to get priority Covid testing.

May I take this opportunity to thank you all in the office for what you are doing for us in these unprecedented times, and particularly for helping us to stay in touch with each other.

With all best wishes,

Katie (Kathryn Whitcomb).

From Jim Eardley

face masks

From Mireille Rostas

As I was deemed extremely vulnerable by the government I was among the first one to be confined to home since the 18th of March. I only went out a couple of times always for medical reasons such as a bronchoscopy and a blood test. The bronchoscopy happened on the 20th March and I was surprised it did not get cancelled. The blood test happened 19 days ago and the hospital was extremely quiet. I have a volunteer from the Royal Free who phones me every five days or so and she tells me that the hospital has started to become busier again on the ground floor. She still volunteers there sorting food donations for the NHS staff.

From Rosalind Witte

Many thanks 😊 for the weekly email 📧 They’re superb, most cheering!

From Stanley Davis

Dear Amalia,

Is it at all possible for you to continue your lectures on science making use of Zoom? In the past it has given a lot of us great pleasure. Your audience has always consisted of intelligent if elderly people well able to make use of Zoom. If you are agreeable why not enquire through the newsletter how many people would like to participate.

Kindest regards,


From a friend

Plus ça change!

She also sent this extract from a song that Julie Andrews sang on her 79th birthday:

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads and bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin’,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favourite things.

When the bones creak, when the knees hurt
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

From Dennis Evans

Reminiscing: an evocative extract from his poem, Harvest time.

His Majesty’s government 1946, WW2, “Fit boys of 13 years of age can help with the harvest…” . Farm labourers were not yet demobilised from the forces. We went with the school, slept under canvas. Good teachers cooked and cared for us. “Men’s work for boy’s wages”, said my father

Potato lifting

Up and down the rows
bent over, lifting potatoes.
At the end of each row
we straighten, rub aching backs.
Then on to the next row,
and the next – across the field.

The sun is high
we work with gypsy mothers.
The men still at war.
‘Men’s work for boy’s wages’,
my father says.
We finish the field, have lunch.
Feel pleased with our work,
but complain about backs.

Back in the field,
sun and bending combine.
Grip our backs with hot iron.
A gypsy mother sees my pain,
says: ‘this is how we work’,
shows me their technique.
I crouch; put my forearm on my thigh,
scrabble with my free hand.
I sail up the row.

Today, Monday 4th May, would normally have been the first of the two May Bank Holidays but this year Friday 8th May has replaced it. It has been chosen because it was 75 years ago on that day that Victory in Europe was celebrated, marking the surrender of Germany and the end of fighting in Europe. There will be special activities going on that many of you would like to be part of, even if it’s only by watching on television. It is commemorating a very evocative day that we should respect. Let us hope it will not be too long before we can celebrate the equivalent of VE Day with VOC us).