Monthly Briefings


September 2017


Member’s News


Ron Kennedy is still having a problem with his speech and is undergoing therapy.  Nothing wrong with his brain so he is organising the new year’s lottery starting in next month.   Iris’s bones are being very slow to knit.  She’s not yet at home and not a happy bunny.  David Elliott is due for heart surgery shortly.


In Committee


When Jean talked to David Elliott she was told he is critical of us for lack of campaigning.  We concluded the membership needs to be consulted on this issue so it will be a topic for today’s meeting.


August Talk


Ted Shirley recounted his living thru WW2 in Essex.  He was the youngest of four boys and he had two sisters.  He was a sickly child which precluded him from being evacuated.  His dad was a railway man which was a reserved occupation that prevented him from being called up.  Also it was policy not to enlist fathers of large families a lesson learned from WW1.


He recalled the family sitting round the wireless on Sunday 3 September 1939 to hear Mr Chamberlain utter the immortal words, “no such undertaking has been received”.  Mother’s reaction was “what are we going to do?”  To that father said, “shut your row”. At dinner that evening the sirens sounded!   From then on church bell were silenced only to be broken in the event of invasion.  The phrase, “keep calm and carry on” of late bandied about was not broadcast at the time.  It was to be used if an invasion happened.


The first impact on life was the universal issue of gas masks.  This was another spin off from WW1 when gas was used as a weapon of war.  35 million were issued and as a child Ted could forget to being everything to school in the morning but never his gas mask. 


In those early days children were evacuated to the country in their thousands.  One day there was a street full of double decker busses outside and his elder brothers wearing backpacks making their way to them.  Ted assumed they were off on a fortnights holiday but it was evacuation. The lack of  contemporises in school did not hit home but at football it did. 


Then came double summer time.  Hickory dickory dock their messing with the clock! Government contended this would give farmers an extra hour to bring in the harvest! Also, it was a time of air raids so shelters were the order of the day.  One-day Ted saw a heap of old iron dumped on their front lawn.  The instructions said, dig a hole and concrete it over then put up the shelter.  His brothers, now back from evacuation, did this.  Didn’t stop it flooding in heavy rain.  At school, he remembers the numerous times the sirens would go off during lunch and then would have to finish it sitting on a wooden bench in the shelter.


He like me felt quite detached from the air raids.  One night they opened the curtain to see a big fire they assumed was Thames Board Mills.  In fact, it was the London docks.  His was an ‘Open Air school’ supposedly good for kid’s health.  The day routine was arrive and put on plimsolls, eat breakfast, attend assembly and sing a hymn then lessons then take an afternoon rest after lunch!  The open air part meant the windows were never closed.


Prior to Pearl Harbour an American in London told his people we would suffer mass starvation and surrender.  That prompted the sending of food parcels.  Coincidentally the “Dig for Victory” campaign started.  His school cultivated 6 patches growing vegetables.  The pupils worked on them twice a week.  Then there was rationing backed up by radio recipes.  Then there was snook, cod liver oil, dripping and rose hip syrup and chickens in the back garden.


Next an ack ack battery was set up in an adjacent big field.  Great for small boys and good for shrapnel collecting.  Coming the other way were ‘butterfly bombs’.  They had wings that slowed them down enuff to lodge in trees and bushes.  They would go off if touched.  Post war one killed a horse.  Late on came the doodlebugs that sounded like a badly tuned lawnmower.  When the motor cut out they would either fall straight down of glide onward.  There was no saying which.  Next the V2’s that had already detonated before you heard them coming.  After them the US poached the German inventers who went on to start the space program. 


After VE Day came the revelation of Auschwitz etc. 

At home, the prefabs appeared and the long march to the end of rationing, the dreary 50’s to the liberated 60’s.




If you have solar panels beware of a call telling you must have cut out switches added in case of fire. Also, an outside switch for the fire brigade.  The claim is these are legal requirements and will invalidate your insurance if not fitted.  All a pack of lies.


Another, and more widespread is the fibreglass insulation in your roof.  A caller claims it is now condemned and doesn’t work.  I googled it and found many firms selling on the basis of its thermal insulation properties.  I don’t buy this one and suggest you don’t either.  One thing not to do is touch fibreglass.  That causes a bad irritation.



Britannia is a female figure who has symbolized our nation for over 2000 years. She is often mistaken for Queen Victoria, Boadicea and some people even said Margaret Thatcher, she’s been on our coins for over 345 years.  Britannia was a province in Roman-Britain, inhabited by Britains, Belgae and Picts in parts of the island south of Caledonia (Scotland). The name is Latin and comes from the Greek word "Prettanike' or "Brettaniai", a name for a collection of islands including "Albion" or Great Britain. At the end of the 2ndcentury Britain had peace with the Romans and adopted Roman practices.

Britannia became a goddess armed with a shield and wearing a Corinthian helmet. The name Britannia survived the end of the Roman rule in Britain in the 5th century and gave the name for the islands in most European and other languages as Britain, The name Britannia symbolising Britain and British patriotism has been adopted for various purposes like names of ships, a royal naval college, planes, company names, steam locomotives, a football stadium and even a Lancashire group called "Britannia Coco Nut Dancers”. Britannia has appeared on stamps (like the George V high value stamps and a £10 stamp issued in 1993.)  "Rule Britannia" is a very patriotic song always sung at the last night of the proms. It came from a poem "Rule Britannia" by James Thomson and set to music by Thomas Arne in 1740.


National Jazz Centre UK


Is to be found on the lower ground floor of the Beecroft Art Gallery in Victoria Avenue, Southend.  On Saturday, 7 October the Jazz Museum will be opened at 11.00am.  Some big names in the Jazz world are expected. 

Dates for your Diary


Every Tuesday @ 8pm.  Local musicians play at the Royal Hotel in Southend.  Info on 01702 899222.


Saturday and Sunday until 24 Sept Music in PrioryPark.  3 to 5pm


Until 23 October: Oktoberfest at the crooked Billet in Leigh.  Select from 28 new beers. 


1-30 Sept Totally Thames.  24 Sept performative walk of “SilkRiver” art trail features 20 Bengal silk scrolls each 6 metre high.  9:30am. Info


25 Sept:  For Victoria, Kursaal and Milton residents, meet the police, at Civic Centre.  7pm.         


30 Sept:  Southend in 2030.  Have your say at WesleyMethodistChurch, Elm Road, Leigh. Attend from 10 to noon.  Otherwise drop in any time at The Hub, 1st floor, Victoria Shopping Centre


30 Sept:  Join Dorothy Turner for an afternoon of poetry at Westcliff Library.  2pm.  Free.


1 October:  Nearly new fair at Leigh Community Centre.  10 to 1pm.


1 October:  Vintage Festival at Chase Sport and Fitness Centre, Prittlewell Chase.  On sale min C20 fashion accessories, homeware, furniture, art and collectibles accompanied by live music.  Entrance £2 seniors.  Time not stated.

© JDS (É 472670)