Talk Catalogue

General Interest

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General Interest

Lake District: A Celebration and a Warning

Talk Description and preview

A celebration of a unique landscape and its place in our national consciousness from William Wordsworth to Alfred Wainwright. It is also a warning of challenges ahead, from climate change to Brexit. It concludes with a 'year' in the Lake District in pictures taken over fifty years!

Talk length - 49 minutes.

Chris Forse

Chris Forse is a retired teacher and administrator who spent 33 years in Hong Kong where he was also a sometime columnist and radio panel guest. He has travelled widely and globally and enjoys travel photography and self-publishing. He is chairman of a large U3A in the Midlands.

Restoring a Ruin and other Misadventures in France

Talk Description and preview

In the early 1990s Rukshana and her husband, Jehan, with two lively young sons in tow, bought a ruined Maison de Vigne   in rural France to restore as a holiday project and use as a base from which to explore France, particularly the Languedoc and the spectacular Gorges du Tarn. The talk includes a brief history of the Cathars and their fortresses. This light-hearted and well - illustrated talk is an amusing account of the bureaucracy, the French way of life and some of the many mis-adventures they had along the way.

Talk length - 44 minutes.

Rukshana Masters

Rukshana spent her childhood in India, had a thoroughly British education and went on to train as a Fashion Designer in the USA. She married and moved to England in 1970. In the 1990s, she and her husband with their two young sons, decided to buy a little ruin in France to do up as a holiday project. This led to many hilarious adventures, which were the basis for her book ‘As it Happens, A Sparkling Adventure through life on the Bright Side’.

Time, Gentlemen Please: the history of the measurement of time

Talk Description and preview

This talk explores the origins of our calendar. Why are there 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute? When did we separate the year into months, and how did they differ from months today?


Talk length - 50 minutes

Baz Hamblin

After 25 years flying in the RAF as a navigator, Baz found himself running a training company for airline pilots for 25 years after doing a favour for a friend. Supporting his wife's lavender business by becoming the tractor driver, Baz also sells antiques and is trustee of the local museum. A lover of antiques and history and with his RAF training in instruction, Baz loves presenting talks on a variety of history subjects.

Folklore, Folk Tales and Funny Folk!

Talk Description and preview

In this witty and very humorous talk Geoff takes a sideways look at some of the laws, old sayings, tales and people that make our country the often madly wonderful place it is today.

Just what end of a boiled egg was it illegal to break in the reign of Edward VI?

What do you use a cow, a pair of breeches and a stout cudgel for on a Friday?

How did Chesterfield church get its crooked spire?

The answers to these and many other vital questions are answered in this fast-paced, engaging talk. Your life will be changed!


Talk length - 44 minutes.

Geoff Harris

Geoff Harris started working as a teacher and taught in a variety of secondary schools all over the UK for ten tears before giving it all up and becoming a clown. Really, that is what he did. The clowning led onto other performance areas and he has been seen on a variety of stages and screens ever since. Ten plus years ago he started to train as a Toastmaster and is now a Fellow of the National Association of Toastmasters, working in some of the grandest hotels and houses in the country.

A Toastmaster's Tale 

Talk Description and preview

Geoff is one of the country’s leading Toastmasters, working in venues all over the UK and abroad. However, in this insightful, informative and hilarious talk Geoff lifts the lid off the world of formal events in his own inimitable style. Just what did the Prince of Wales have to do with the introduction of the red coat? How fast did the Alderman’s funeral cortege go? Did the bridegroom really say that? The answer to these questions and many, many more are answered at breakneck speed in this witty, funny, brilliantly presented talk. Not to be missed.

Talk length - 44 minutes.

Geoff Harris

Geoff Harris started working as a teacher and taught in a variety of secondary schools all over the UK for ten tears before giving it all up and becoming a clown. Really, that is what he did. The clowning led onto other performance areas and he has been seen on a variety of stages and screens ever since. Ten plus years ago he started to train as a Toastmaster and is now a Fellow of the National Association of Toastmasters, working in some of the grandest hotels and houses in the country.

The London No-One Tells You About

Talk Description and preview

...is just that, the London no-one tells you about. The Necropolis railway, the lost rivers and why the Americans don’t own their embassy are just a few of the not so well known details brought to life.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Geoff Harris

Geoff Harris started working as a teacher and taught in a variety of secondary schools all over the UK for ten tears before giving it all up and becoming a clown. Really, that is what he did. The clowning led onto other performance areas and he has been seen on a variety of stages and screens ever since. Ten plus years ago he started to train as a Toastmaster and is now a Fellow of the National Association of Toastmasters, working in some of the grandest hotels and houses in the country.

I've always wanted a smallholding

Talk Description and preview

I had always loved animals and had recently retired from running a small Model Railway Manufacturing business. Alan had retired from being a Postman.

What shall we do now ? we said.

We had both wished we could have a farm of our own but they are enormously expensive so despite having no experience we decided to buy a Smallholding.

A real leap in the dark and a very steep learning curve.

We started with chickens, pigs were next, proper little comedians, then sheep and lambing in January in the snow, sleeping in an old caravan.

Dexter cows and goats then joined us and we made cheese, sausages, soap and chutney and sold our produce at Farmers Markets and County Shows.


Talk length - 50 minutes.

Pamela McLellan

Pamela says she is so lucky, having 5 or 6 lives all rolled into one. In 1960, on leaving the Civil Service, she bought a Hardware shop in Crawley. From this, as a result of a joke and the BBC’s Nationwide programme in 1970, she started a business manufacturing kits for model railways and which is still going strong. The next part of her life included Back packing round the world on her own at 60, hang gliding, white water rafting, learning to dive on the Barrier Reef, climbing through a glacier and walking 17k over Mount Doom from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film. She then bought a smallholding, with no previous knowledge of farming, and raised cows, sheep, pigs, goats and chickens and sold the produce at Farmers markets and Country shows.

A Passion for Fashion

Talk Description and preview

From reading Vogue magazines to designing for Jimi Hendrix and Sophia Loren, Rukshana truly had a ‘Passion for Fashion’. She shares her adventures starting with training in the USA at the age of eighteen, to coming to live in England and setting up her very successful fashion business in her own, unusual way. She talks about how fashion has changed – or how it hasn’t - through the years, spanning the 70s, 80s, 90s and indeed right up to 2014 when she retired. Having organised umpteen Fashion Shows for numerous charities, working mainly in beautiful silks and cottons, Rukshana has many a story to share!


Talk length - 41 minutes.

Rukshana Masters

Rukshana was born in India and trained as a Fashion Designer in the United States in the late 60s, the days of Mary Quant. She worked at a Haute Couture boutique for a while in New York. She came to live in England in the 70s and furthered her fashion career in a very interesting and unusual way, raising funds for various charities and running a successful fashion boutique right up to 2014. She was also a Cub Scout leader when her children were younger and the family had a ruin they restored in France, which all made for a busy, interesting and fun-filled life.

Wartime and Romance (Part 1) - From boaters to anti-bac!

Talk Description and preview

Andy shares pithy, real-life perspectives of two world wars, 21st century conflict, and consequent relationships, gleaned from family and friends over several decades. In his two poetic presentations entitled ‘Wartime and Romance’ he weaves humour and history into an entertaining and poignant delivery that stimulates response from listeners who inevitably have their own stories to tell!


Talk length - 35 minutes.

Andy Smith

Andy Smith is a performance poet, author and former business communicator who has two artificial limbs, three fine children, a whippet called Tamba and a tabby called Toby. (He also had two feisty chickens until ‘Basil Brush’ made their acquaintance last year). As well as engaging live and digital audiences with his poetry, humour and a smattering of history, Andy mentors teenage lads in local secondary schools. And once a year, the bionic bard and his long-suffering wife, Hazel, make an annual trip to Sierra Leone in West Africa to support and encourage victims of trauma.

Wartime and Romance (Part 2) - From Cuffley to Caffè Nero

Talk Description and preview

Andy shares pithy, real-life perspectives of two world wars, 21st century conflict, and consequent relationships, gleaned from family and friends over several decades. In the second of his two poetic presentations entitled ‘Wartime and Romance’, he weaves humour and history into an entertaining and poignant delivery that stimulates response from listeners who inevitably have their own stories to tell!


Talk length - 43 minutes

Andy Smith

Andy Smith is a performance poet, author and former business communicator who has two artificial limbs, three fine children, a whippet called Tamba and a tabby called Toby. (He also had two feisty chickens until ‘Basil Brush’ made their acquaintance last year). As well as engaging live and digital audiences with his poetry, humour and a smattering of history, Andy mentors teenage lads in local secondary schools. And once a year, the bionic bard and his long-suffering wife, Hazel, make an annual trip to Sierra Leone in West Africa to support and encourage victims of trauma.

Black Cats, New Moons & Ladders - The Origins of Superstitions

Talk Description and preview

A belief in luck and fate are the key components of superstitions and that they can be controlled by various actions of human beings. Do you throw salt over your shoulder if you spill it? Know that it's good luck if you see two magpies together; wonder if things didn't go as planned because it was Friday 13th, and touch wood for good luck? But where did these beliefs originate?
Talk length - 39 minutes.

Sandy Leong

Sandy Leong is an historian, passionate about bringing history to life and is a lively and entertaining speaker. She has a popular series of entertaining, light hearted talks on general historical subjects. However she specialises in the Tudors, an exciting time in the country as it was changing fast; and in the Viking period, who are much more than the stereotype of raiders in horned helmets. She is an international, professional speaker, and published author.

Brink's-Mat Gold Bullion Robbery

Talk Description and preview

This talk takes you through the planning, execution and the elaborate criminal chain that converted £26 million gold bullion into cash. The biggest robbery in UK history which ended with the tragic killing of PC John Fordham at the hands of Kenneth Noye.

Talk length - 38 minutes.

Ian Brown

Having presented his talks on over 60 Cruises for Cunard, P&O, Fred Olsen and other Cruise Lines, this is your chance to listen to Ian Brown without sailing the seas. Ian has recently published a book telling these and many more tales.

Stories from the Clink

Talk Description and preview

- Which country has a quarter of all the world’s prisoners locked up?
- Why did the prisoner lock his own cell door from outside on the jail landing?
- The real escape from Alcatraz...and one that didn't quite make it!
- Did George Best ever play for the prison football team?

All this and more from a former police officer who visited many UK prisons and met many colourful characters. Their stories might well surprise you. Approached with his customary humour, let Neil guide you in (and luckily, out) of a few well known prisons.


Talk length - 43 minutes.

Neil Sadler

Neil Sadler is a retired senior police officer who can provide talks on a range of subjects. Equipment and photographs will illustrate his cases. Neil spent much of his 30 years service as an operational officer in various ranks across Sussex, working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi….he even survived Bognor Regis, Haywards Heath and Crawley!

Gongoozling for beginners

Talk Description and preview

After 30 years as a police officer in Sussex, Neil thought this sounded just the tonic for retirement; relaxing, stress free and with the chance to grow his beard and hair. This is a light hearted journey around some of the 2000 miles of navigable waterways in a 58 foot canal narrow boat across Britain, with just a small dose of history, lots of humour, a rather wet puppy and only one broken arm...so far ! 

Talk length - 42 minutes.

Neil Sadler

Neil Sadler is a retired senior police officer who can provide talks on a range of subjects. Equipment and photographs will illustrate his cases. Neil spent much of his 30 years service as an operational officer in various ranks across Sussex, working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi….he even survived Bognor Regis, Haywards Heath and Crawley!

A Policeman's Lot

Talk Description and preview

Neil Sadler spent 30 years as a police officer. Starting “on the beat” in the exotic holiday resort of Bognor Regis in the 1970s, he retired from a post in national and international police training. You may be amazed to hear who he met on his first solo night shift at 3am. Changes in police uniform and equipment and why not to be squirted with pepper spray. Also, where not to try and escape the traffic cops in one European country and a novel use for a policeman’s helmet.

Talk length - 40 minutes.

Neil Sadler

Neil Sadler is a retired senior police officer who can provide talks on a range of subjects. Equipment and photographs will illustrate his cases. Neil spent much of his 30 years service as an operational officer in various ranks across Sussex, working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi….he even survived Bognor Regis, Haywards Heath and Crawley!

Hair

Talk Description and preview

Straight, wavy, long, natural or dyed! Wigs, extensions, beards and eye brows. Smuggling, politics, religion, and fashion collide in a billion dollar trade. Discover the secretive and lucrative international world of Hair that is guaranteed to grip you by the long, short or curly.

Talk length - 53 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

History and Mystery of Hypnosis

Talk Description and preview

Look into my eyes! Alan Jones will unravel the history and mystery of hypnosis which dates back to the dawn of civilisation, and the modern day benefits of Hypnotherapy. And you can all sit back and relax because he promises that none of you will become a chicken! 

Talk length - 47 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

It's Not What You Say

Talk Description and preview

Ever wondered why you feel attracted to some people and avoid others? Most of us form an opinion about someone in just 90 seconds and rarely change our mind. But it is not based on the way people speak, or even what they say. Discover how Body Language speaks louder then words when we communicate with each other.

Talk length - 46 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

Inside Story (Part 1)

Talk Description

Part 1: Taking you on a fantastic journey of discovery inside and around your body. 100,000 heartbeats every day, bones stronger than concrete, nerve signals faster than a racing car, muscles that shake a leg, why colour is only skin deep, eyes that see everything upside down, a brain that forecasts your future, amazing medical cures and the germs that defeated science. You can’t live without it, so discover the amazing facts and surprising stories of your body. 

Talk length - 47 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

Inside Story (Part 2)

Talk Description

Part 2: Taking you on a fantastic journey of discovery inside and around your body. 100,000 heartbeats every day, bones stronger than concrete, nerve signals faster than a racing car, muscles that shake a leg, why colour is only skin deep, eyes that see everything upside down, a brain that forecasts your future, amazing medical cures and the germs that defeated science. You can’t live without it, so discover the amazing facts and surprising stories of your body.

Talk length - 53 minutes.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones has been fortunate to enjoy a variety of careers, each bringing their own unique experiences and events. A trained nurse, hypnotherapist, BBC journalist and more, they now all provide a wealth of anecdote to fill his talks with fun, entertainment and discovery. Alan is a Stand Alone speaker.

The Maturing of Mankind

Talk Description and preview

The story of our development from the time when our distant ancestors just started to walk upright, to when we dominated the world is both unique and fascinating. This Talk briefly describes our biological evolution from five million years ago. It goes on to consider the maturing of our brain and the initial stages of our cultural development.

Talk length - 32 minutes.

Neil Meldrum

Neil Meldrum has been a lawyer for 40 years. Now retired, Neil has the opportunity of indulging his fascination in all things to do with ancient history and the cultural evolution of mankind. Although an amateur, these are compelling subjects which have been undergoing considerable re-appraisal in recent years. Neil's talks range from the development and the cultural evolution of early man to the Maya and Aztecs of Ancient Mexico and the Incas of Peru, areas that he has visited extensively. More recently he has been focusing on early culture in Ancient China, India, Egypt and Mesopotamia and in particular looking at early religions in these regions.

Playing Out

Talk Description and preview

It's the school holidays. You would knock on your friends' doors to see if they were coming out to play. Most of us played in the street. You might have had a ball, a few marbles, some conkers or, if you were very lucky, a bike! We played outside whatever the weather and often came home filthy. Dirt was good - it built up your immunity and was a sign that you had had fun! The day ended with the usual plea for "Five More Minutes!" 

Talk length - 36 minutes.

Kath Reynolds

Kath's library role allowed her the opportunity to develop her passion for reminiscence work both in terms of delivering sessions and training others. Together with a colleague from Stoke-on-Trent Museums, she wrote an OCN accredited course, "Delivering Reminiscence". This course was very successful and she delivered it for more than six years. She described herself as "keenly interested in people; their lives and their communities". Her talks and reminiscence sessions reflect a great many years of collecting stories, memories and musings from the people of Staffordshire and surrounding counties. She is always vigilant to research and verify "facts" - although she often share the "facts" which are clearly fiction... purely because they are entertaining!

Fishy Tales

Talk Description and preview

Kevin Little, who recently retired after 54 years as a fishmonger, recounts some of his “fishy tales”. Find out why Batman uses the expression “holy mackerel” and why we are misled by a “red herring”. Why was the price of butter so crucial to a fishmonger? How his wife threatened divorce when lampreys escaped into his car. The health inspector who was muddled by the fly book, and didn’t approve of Kevin’s first aid kit.

Kevin Little

After an unlikely beginning as a gentleman’s hairdresser, Kevin became a fishmonger. His shop, the Smelly Alley Fish Company, in Reading, Berkshire, was his for the next 54 years. After being born and bred in Reading, he moved to Somerset where he has lived for thirty years, commuting up and down the A303. He owns a smallholding with his wife, Liz, where he keeps rescued ponies, a mule, a dog, many, many cats, geese and ducks. All are rescued, from the Rumanian German Shepherd dog to the cats that just turn up, seeking a home.

The Fishmonger's Guide to the Market

Talk Description and preview

Kevin Little talks about how to tell if fish is good quality. Fish that’s gone out of fashion, like coley. Farmed fish versus wild fish. How salmon were nearly fished to extinction. Smoked fish that’s hard to buy, like bloaters, finnan haddock, Arbroath smokies, smoked sprats and Manx kippers. Try cooking squid yourself. And to end, a description of scallops, cockles, whelks, crabs and lobsters versus crayfish and crawfish.

Kevin Little

After an unlikely beginning as a gentleman’s hairdresser, Kevin became a fishmonger. His shop, the Smelly Alley Fish Company, in Reading, Berkshire, was his for the next 54 years. After being born and bred in Reading, he moved to Somerset where he has lived for thirty years, commuting up and down the A303. He owns a smallholding with his wife, Liz, where he keeps rescued ponies, a mule, a dog, many, many cats, geese and ducks. All are rescued, from the Rumanian German Shepherd dog to the cats that just turn up, seeking a home.

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