2014/15 – before the AGM

People have been asking me what sort of a year I have had this year as Chairman of Moseley 41 Club. Well, I am glad they asked me that question, many times, because it is the sort of question I like to be asked. And of course the answer to that question is for me to tell you the sort of a year I have had as Chairman of Moseley 41 Club.

What it has not been is uneventful.

Starting with the sad news, we lost our last surviving founder member, (Major) Stan Cheeseman. He was 41 Club President in his last full year with us, and it was a privilege to have known him – given that I think he had left Table before I was even born!

The rest of the year, in the main, has been good.

With the sterling efforts of Ian Brown, Peter Hunt and Andy Ventress we have gone some way towards re-establishing the good rapport between Table and 41 Club. And I attended a few of those Table events over the year.

These were events mainly involving food, or drink, or preferably both. Occasionally, one was also expected to participate in some physical activity prior to the food and drink bit! But when they are events such as Area 35 cricket (and yes we won…) or Crown Green Bowls, it is not too much of a hardship.

  • Tabling has always been about “doing it yourself” so when the offer was there to brew beer for giving away at one of the Kings Heath festivals – how could I refuse? I have to admit I never knew that the brewing process has to be accompanied with barbequed meats and the generous consumption of previous brews, but apparently that is the law. And being law-abiding….
  • At the Table pizza challenge, efforts to emulate Gennaro Lombardi or John Schnatter, and raise the art of pizza making to new culinary heights were thwarted by Ian Brown – proof that you cannot move an uncooked but well-stacked pizza from table to tin without a collapse of epic proportions – it has been a long time since Ian has had anything that floppy in his hands. But the winning pizza topped with poached pear and gorgonzola was quite simply amazing.
  • Table Christmas collections, of which I suspect most of us think “oh bugger…” when it is mentioned, is clearly a guilty pleasure, judging by the level of support given by 41 Club. With a rota (frighteningly well) organised by Ladies Circle, and aided by generally clement weather, I will be the first to say bring on the 2015 collections – I enjoyed them. Not sure my knees or back did, but my heart did. And the video of Chairman James dressed as Santa joining in the Zumba class outside the Moseley chippie will be available to download from YouTube soon.
  • Of course the ultimate “This is Tabling” award has to go to the beer festival. An event that is just about drinking is fine anyway. Throw in the fact that every pint you drink raises even more money for charity and it is almost perfect. The final total.. I believe in excess of £8,000 raised.. means it is as good as it gets. And thanks to 41 Club for their support on both sides of the bar (well, they needed people to drink as well as serve).

Strictly 41 Club events have maintained their relentless pace again, although it was sad to see 5th Wednesday disappear from the calendar; but there again, if no one wants to go, what is the point of organising it!

My thanks to Tony Mucklow for organising this year’s Golf challenge trophy. Henley, although a little out of the way, is a nice course (or so I am told, golf is still a black art to me) and the evening meal was excellent value.

Burns Night (thanks to Peter for the food, Ken for sourcing a genuine Jock to talk to us, and Kemp senior for not attempting the accent again) was an excellent evening. Good food, good company and a poem that no one (not even the Scots) understands. What’s not to like?

We have had three speakers so far (that is, formally invited speakers, rather than just allowing Woollard on his feet to entertain us). In reverse order…

  • Jen from the Brain Tumour Charity left us in no doubt of the frailty of our existence, or more pertinently, the frailty of our young people. It seems many of us have been touched by the shadow of brain tumours within our immediate family. I cannot speak for others, but my father has recently been diagnosed with one, and my wife works as a TA for a life limited child with one. So it was good to hear of the advances being made and to enable us to give something towards the research.
  • Mel Matthews is as Welsh as is possible, but now a local. He entertained us for quite a while, but still only gave us about 30% of his talk about Birmingham buildings. Almost every building evoked some memories amongst our older members (are there any other sort?) so they had to be discussed in some detail. We need to ask him back for more!
  • My daughter Lucy (nepotism is alive and well in 41 Club) obviously raised the tone (and fragrance) of our June meeting and entertained us with a monologue of Mrs Shepherd pondering life’s hardships when left minding sheep on a hillside overlooking Bethlehem whilst her husband went gallivanting off to see the baby Jesus in his manger. I am sure most wives could tell this was just a metaphor for Tabling in general.

Fellowship meetings – there were several – are one of those “shall we?..” events. With no agenda, there is so much to go wrong, but in the case of Moseley, so much to go right. With no intervention, and a start point of some minor aside, we spent hours with tales that all seemed to start with.. “do you remember when (insert ex Tablers’ names) went to / came back from / was at (insert event) and (insert consequence..)”. I will never look at cling film or ladies underwear in quite the same way again.

My thanks this year go to Ken – subject to ratification he’s got the mantle / gong next year – for supporting me, but mainly for running the raffle so successfully. I would need to confirm with Mike (again, thanks to the him for counting beans so effectively) but I suspect we’ve given away more to charity this year than for many a year. Richard, without whom…. (no, it is not turning into an Oscar acceptance speech) but he has done a good job of keeping me in order. And that in spite of becoming a grandfather.

And finally to Nobby, aka Brian Clarke, 2014 President Moseley 41 Club, for surviving his year as Stan’s successor (big shoes to fill) and doubling up on the number of undertaker jokes we are allowed to tell.