Dear Pat and our friends of Sandon WI,
It is a relief to have Guy Fawkes over for another year, and to a lesser extent, Halloween. In our Village we are protected from hordes of strangely dressed small humans, usually with a protective parent hovering nearby, asking for treats, but abroad in the streets there would have been parties of these children as in other parts of the world. No such protection on the 5th November, when the noise of fireworks boomed and crackled till a late hour. The majority of citizens want responsible groups to combine and have fireworks displays en masse, and legislation to prevent sales to random parties who bang away for hours, and continue for the next week or until their supplies run out. The Lions, a service group in NZ, have for several years presented wonderful displays here for families to enjoy; it seems most folk would like to see the end of sales to the public, and available only for displays by councils, or groups such as the Lions.
I had better explain the ‘Polar Rodent’ expression. It means a very cold, mean burst of intense chill straight off the ice in Antarctica, invading the country, with strong wind for all and snow, sleet etc. for higher altitudes. Not many places escape the chill rat, but we on the Manawatu Plain think we are targeted by this large mean complex, and suffer most! A persecution complex perhaps? Today, a lovely day, warm sunshine which drew most people outdoors, to linger a while, to chat, with an obvious lift to spirits. Such a difference compared to the usual scurry to get indoors and away from the wind. I heard today this last month of October has been the worst for wind in 75 years.
The Half-yearly Council Meeting was indeed a lovely occasion. Federation followed National’s ‘fun day’ idea totally, with no business at all, and great entertainment. After the cup of tea to begin, we were enchanted when Patrick Nolan told us of his adventures as the first and only New Zealander to have been a Yeoman of the Guard, a Warder in the Tower of London. He had a 32 year career in the NZ Military Service, with an award, or a service medal which qualified him to apply to that grand old Institution in London, for further service to the Queen. He told us it took many months and several letters to even obtain an interview, but eventually he was invited to apply in person. He told a wonderful tale of his life, and his wife’s, in one of the old apartments made available to Yeomen in service. He had been able to take the wonderful costuming that is worn, home with him, and he is now retired. Several members with cameras were able to snap his tunics, myself included, my photos to be sent to you with the usual package Nov/Dec. There will never be another foreigner (even a colonial) able to apply to be a Yeoman as it has now been closed to all except Englishmen, so we were told.
Later in the day we played a quiz game called ‘It’s in the Bag’. Popular on radio here from the 1950s, then transferring to TV at a later decade. There were 12 bags, 12 members lined up to answer questions and win a bag, or perhaps accepting money as an alternative. Everyone took the bag as the money was not designed to make you rich overnight. (In the original radio, TV programmes, although there were big prizes offered, sometimes a person who chose a bag could end up with a valueless booby prize, always the risk.) After the first session, the 12 ladies were asked more questions and the first one to get to three correct, won the Big Prize. I managed this and won a big box of notecards with envelopes, all decorated with colourful spring and summer flowers by my favourite NZ floral artist, Nancy Tichborne. That was a really happy surprise as I’d thought it was a box of chocolates in the wrapped parcel.
You will be pleased to know we had a gratifying number of entries for the monthly competitions last Wednesday, so good to see greater numbers taking interest. Dear Joyce McEwen won the monthly trophy, ‘The Brass Vase’. We make a joke of it, but it’s always a nice surprise if you win it. Joyce has to do quite a lot of polishing to keep all her trophies shining, she is such an enthusiast, and an inspiration. As the A&P Show has been in progress over this weekend, I’m sure Joyce will have done well once more, she is close to 90 but has the energy of a much younger person. Sylvia Claridge (our treasurer) has been in the UK with her husband Bob, in recent times, as well as touring around she had arranged to meet and collect her granddaughter Lisa, (aged about 18) who had been performing at the Edinburgh Tattoo with the NZ team of Scottish Highland dancers. Lisa had prepared a little talk for Milson members on Wednesday, on her time in Edinburgh. Sylvia’s other granddaughter Isla, aged 6, then performed the Highland Fling for us. She has been learning for a year or so and is already quite polished, having won two or three trophies, so the family is pleased with her progress. I have just recalled another piece of information, Joyce McEwen’s daughter was a Scottish and Irish dancer, and is a dance teacher. She teaches both Lisa and Isla. When Isla danced, her grandmother held a ‘tablet’ which played the bagpipe music for her. Another clever modern device.
With best wishes for an interesting meeting on Thursday, from all of Milson WI,