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The King of graciousness.

The Shakespeare line from “the Merchant of Venice” came to my mind at the Powertalk Toastmaster meeting held on 18th February.

“The quality of mercy is not strained,

It droppeth as the gentle rain upon the place beneath.”

Henry was at the meeting. Henry King was amongst us and the synonyms struggle to describe his discretion, his even handedness and his calm equanimity wherever an evaluation or recommendation had to be given. Henry came to execute that most demanding of roles, “evaluate the evaluator”. This was a role however made for his sane mind. 

The structure of the speech section of the Powertalk meeting goes thus. The Toastmaster Larry Power introduces the speaker. Firstly the speaker speaks.  The speaker finishes. A moment later the Evaluator has to jump to their feet and just based on immediate memory delivers an evaluation. The interfering mind has little to do. It is an evaluation given on the skin of their instinctual pants. There is a freshness to such evaluations and the usual clinches of “wanting to hear the speaker speak soon” are thankfully absent. But these evaluations can play loose and free and here the final role of “evaluating the evaluator” can play a considered part. He or she are like “sweepers” in a free flowing game. Thus Henry King in that role showed all his usual serenity and calm.

First Bobby Buckley spoke on the adventure of being a yes-man and where it has led him. In the speech his “pleasing Nature” ended him up in a Hong Kong food hall with a bowl of rice and some crochet needles. Mike McDonnell in an enthusiastic leap to the floor embraced Bobby’s speech wholeheartedly and even when Bobby complained to the audience that they didn’t laugh at the sight of Wexford hurler Lee Chin looking inscrutably at the pitch in Pairc Ui Chaoimh Mike praised him for this, as it was part of the objectives of the speech, to monitor the audience’s reaction. In this case it was the blankness on their faces.

Henry was there to support Mike and stated that a positive evaluation is the basis of a good evaluation. However he also urged for more recommendations as in contests the more recommendations the better. Bobby could have edited the rambling restaurant section, he said.

 In the next evaluation of Josepha Gibney’s speech on Nordic Pole walking Henry got plenty of recommendations from Evaluator Aine Ni Ghlinn .Between Josepha walking with those poles up and down the room we had Aine wanting even more walking with the poles advising that there would have been an opportunity for Josepha to have even walked on with the poles strapped to her wrists up to the space and she could have strengthened her final message with another pole walking exit from the space.

Henry concurred and acclaimed Aine as a superb analytical evaluator of speeches if not Nordic pole walking and that Josepha would have learned much, not necessarily on Pole walking but on the art of using the  Nordic poles in a speech.

 Evaluator Ciara Halloran was also in an analytical mood. She had to be. President Adrian Harney came with his 2nd go at his powerful potentially award winning speech “I saw the Crescent” based on the Waterboy’s song. Adrian had improved his first speech focussing it more now around the theme of the power and ultimate loss of friendship. It had the lyricism of the first speech performance but Adrian now had sharpened it into something more profound. It was Adrian’s delivery of the speech that Ciara concentrated on in her considered evaluation.

Henry admired her thorough analysis of Adrian’s interpretation of the speech. Henry also was drawn to that delivery concentrating on how some of the rhythmic vocal patterns of the Waterboy lyrics could have been delivered bettered. Later as General Evaluator of the meeting Adrian thanked his evaluators and confessed to us all, well it was obvious to me, that he had changed his first speech and in the process ended up forgetting both the new and the old.  Such is the travails of carving out a great speech. Keep trying Adrian. You will get there.

Then we all stopped and ate cocktail sausages, onion rings, breaded chicken breasts while sipping tea.

On the resumption Henry King took the premier spot of speaker now accepting an award, a special occasion speech from that manual.

He received his Advanced Communicator Gold certificate from President Adrian Harney and as is Henry’s wont he accepted it with dignity, grace and sincerity. No exuberant celebrations from Henry.

Evaluator Brendan Haughton would have none of this restraint and urged that Henry should have literally pranced around the space and displayed the certificate right up to our faces in a show of “Look what I have achieved”. Henry smiled in his seat. Not a triumphalist muscle twitched in his face.

President Adrian took over Henry’s role and gently reminded Brendan that Henry was in the speeches objectives required to accept the award with “dignity, grace and sincerity”. The audience laughed. Brendan grinned -mischievously. Henry King sat there vindicated not twitching any of his triumphalist muscles, well then he has none as I have already said.

Vincent McNally led the gathering through an eclectic list of topics. Bobby Buckley had to imagine winking in the dark at someone. He failed completely but his failure aroused much hilarity. He has told me that he tried it last night while in bed, and a moth started flapping at his window begging to be let in. Guest John Kelly, while timekeeping also gave advice on spending properly. It seems he is somewhat of an expert. The rest of the time his welcome laughter boomed around the room. He had much to laugh at with Aine’s attempt to sell herself as a property that needed some restoration. Brendan danced around the space for our sakes with people named Paddy, Jameson and Power. Who are these people? Larry and Mike were very concerned and rightly so about Ireland’s homeless.  Ciara and Henry ended by speaking about grace again. Somehow Henry mixed Margaret Thatcher in on his topic about Global Warming. What the seventeenth century poets called a metaphysical conceit, the yoking of two irregular concepts together.

It was that kind of night. King of equanimity, Henry King was amongst us. We were blessed. A strangely silent Chris O’Byrne recorded all the civility on the camera.

“The quality of mercy—“and all of that.

At the end Larry and Adrian thanked the 3 guests Helen, Leema and Brian for coming. It was their first Toastmaster meeting. We wish them well in their future Toastmaster careers. Will they ever survive such a night? 

Area Director Bobby Buckley  reminded the meeting  that the Area 18 COT2 training is taking place on Monday next 25th February at the same venue 51Haddington Road. Patricia OReilly D71 Director will speak on Pathways.

See you there if you need to be.



Ciara saves the night.

Things happen in life. Instead of Powertalk being in the upper room of 51 Haddington on Monday 21st January 24, 2019 it was a Dating night. So we gathered ,homeless,  in the noisy bar below and thought of seeking out Ray Cotter , who could have made speech hay, maybe 5 speeches,  out of the dating convention being held above our heads. It was Ciara Halloran who came to our rescue. We gathered at her dining room in Sandymount an hour after the official start the meeting began.

President Adrian Harney thanked Ciara for the cozy venue. Christopher Byrne, toastmaster introduced the change in roles. In the move a few had fallen back to their own homes. Bobby Buckley, again, replaced Brendan Haughton as the Evaluator of the evaluators. Aine Ni Ghlinn took over the role of Timekeeper.

Ciara began with a speech on the remedy for ridding speakers of ums, ahs and crutch words not with an ah counter but by punishing ah culprits financially by the use of an Ah-Jar. It was lighthearted and if it had a serious message it was that a financial punishment would concentrate speakers on eliminating halting language. Both the Evaluator Larry Power and Bobby Buckley in his evaluation of the evaluation were won over by the naivety and charm of the speech and both agreed that the speech would have been improved by some concrete examples of crutch words.

Vincent McNally came with a thoughtful speech “Turn it around”. The theme dealt with the philosophical question of how one can take one’s own thoughts, the subjective, and make them communicative, more objective for an audience. He used the example of the voice in our heads and how it is different when it is heard on a recording. It was a gripping speech, of interest to all toastmasters challenged by this central question. Aine Ni Ghlinn, the evaluator, was convinced by Vincent’s central argument, accepted it and moved on to evaluating Vincent’s speaking style. She gave much practical help on examples of vocal variety. Bobby differed with Aine’s approach, preferring if she had confronted the central logical argument in the speech, which he felt was not as convincing as Aine found it. Evaluators differ. That is the nature of evaluation. All however felt that this was an extremely strong speech.

Adrian Harney completed the speech section with a very lyrical speech about a childhood friend, a friend now sadly gone through suicide as an adult. The speech was built around the Waterboy’s song refrain, “I saw the crescent, and he saw the whole of the moon”. This refrain was repeated as a magical rhythm through the speech.  Adrian was inspired by the imagery of the refrain to match it with delightful metaphors of his own throughout. John Hennessy responded personally to the speech and spoke how moved he was by it. So that was the subjective response from the evaluator, while Bobby Buckley took a more objective approach, noting the falling away of vocal power  in the end of the speech and wondering how the death of the friend at the end weakened the argument of his wisdom and imagination implied in the refrain. All agreed the speech had much potential as a competitive speech but needed some work.

Tea and chat followed and when the meeting resumed it was now late. PJ Claffey, the topics master, had excused himself earlier so it was decided not to have a topics session. It was a relief to jet-lagged and muffled Bobby, who had just flown in from Hong Kong. The President announced that the next monthly meeting will be an ordinary club meeting and not the Tall Tales contest. The Tall Tales contest will be held in May hopefully. The club’s International Speech and evaluation contest will be held on 11th March. Ciara was deservedly thanked again for the use of her home.


Powertalk Toastmaster meeting Monday 19th November 2018.

There was something of the Divine Comedy about last night’s Powertalk meeting. If not quite the Divine Comedy it seemed to be haunted by the luckless figures searching for the ideal in a Beckett play. Every Toastmaster who has a role at a meeting sets out to make their mark, to somehow be visited by a muse on the night and to illuminate the gathering with a story, an epigram or even a telling joke. The Beckettian maxim of “You must go on. I can’t go on. Go on! Try again! Fail again!” is there somehow in the background.

 First player on the night who wished to make his mark was Poet Master Mike McDonnell who spent nearly 5 minutes on an introduction to  the audience urging us  to love the divine compassion in   his WB Yeats poem ,”The Ballad Of Father Gilligan”. Mike read it so sensitively that all were transported to that other transcendent world where God cares for all down to the minutest of beings. The General Evaluator, Aine Ni Ghlinn confirmed that she was indeed transported and did not need such a lengthy intro.

Next up was well known Public Speaker and Speech coach Eric Fitzpatrick. Eric is a consummate speech professional. His introduction had a hook, recalling a well-known speech from D71 Evaluation contest 2018. He showed how the speech of Laura Bruce was memorable, why it was memorable and how that speech still haunts his memory. Of course there was audience participation and this is where the Beckettian world of comedy upset the conceptual message that Eric wished to impart. The conceptual message was that we remember everyday natural objects better than concepts.4 of the audience were given a word to draw on the flip chart. The 1st who will remain nameless was chosen to draw a bicycle. The resultant drawing looked more like a tin opener with wheels. The audience were nonplussed.  Gardener Bobby Buckley did manage to draw a sunflower which was mercifully recognised by the audience. The conceptual drawings of words like “strategy”, represented by a drawing of building blocks, Pat Cowley artist, were beyond the intelligence of this audience. An unfazed Eric was now forced to tell the audience what was the significance of the exercise. Eric however is used to the strange thinking patterns of audiences. He went on to tell us of the weird and wonderful thought patterns of nurses that he was once training to speak. Their response to one “jingle “question was Durex. I have forgotten what the question was.

 Eric’s attempt to show this Powertalk audience how memorable certain advertising jingles are when despite being given a dozen popular everyday jingles like “It does what it says on the tin!”, the answer is Ronseal, most of the audience got it wrong.  The audience might be familiar with these jingles but have little knowledge of which manufacturer uses them. Maybe that was a good thing someone reflected afterwards. But as an audience we were the worst jingle aficionados in the world. Probably!

Eric, and I do remember this, showing how well he taught us of how to use the acronym

S C R E A M. S for simile, C for contrast, R for rhyme for echo, A for alliteration for metaphor.

Use that acronym to make your speech memorable was Eric’s final message. I think we about got that.

The 2 speeches afterwards were in the shadow of all of Eric’s good advice on making a speech memorable. Josepha Gibney speaking from the   advanced informative speech manual did give an almost inspirational speech on the power of music in her life. She used rhetorical questions, anecdotes about her violin playing Cavan father and how music helps to calm our troubled spirits. The speech was followed by the immediate Evaluation of Larry Power who gave a very positive analysis of Josepha’s speech. This was an evaluation of encouragement. Bobby Buckley taking “the evaluate the evaluator role” explained this Unique Powertalk role to the audience as there were visitors in the audience. He explained that this role concentrated on assessing the evaluation itself not the speech. Larry’s evaluation was a well-crafted “sandwich” type of evaluation Bobby explained.

The 2nd speech:  Anne McFarland told a touching story from a Russian source about a blind horse named “Tommy”. Anne is a master storyteller powerfully evoking by the use of her voice all the pathos of the hapless horse. Glad to say that there was a happy ending. Tissues were seen to be hovering but were quickly pocketed.

While Ann is a master storyteller her evaluator Chris O’Byrne is a master evaluator. Chris comes from a more “structuralist” tradition of evaluation, where he analyses every factor of the speech and he strives to help the speaker to make their speech more effective. This is why many speakers come to Powertalk, just for that thorough analysis. Bobby Buckley referred to the many different “schools” of evaluation that necessarily operate in the club. Bobby urged or wished Chris to give a more entertaining evaluation cum speech to the audience and to confine the minute analysis to his private exchange with the speaker afterwards. The General Evaluator seemed to agree afterwards.

After the break the unique Powertalk topics session was launched by Topics master Ciara Halloran. Unique? Because all attending are well practised speakers.  Powertalk Topics tend to go into drifts of verbal improvisation, imaginative reveries and enthusiastic revelations. So somehow after all that struggle in the 1st half there is a breakthrough by all into a magical world of fun, madness and even delight. Phillip Khan -Panni urged for a public holiday in bleak November when we all might remember what might have been in our lives, a day for reflection on missed opportunities. He urged that Eric kiss Ciara this time if he was reintroduced as a speaker. Eric duly did kiss Ciara and spoke about his wish for ever quaffing Graham Norton being the national weather forecaster and how Graham would relieve the meteorological gloom that the likes of Evelyn Cusack might visit upon us. PJ Claffey, Sergeant at Arms, would have none of this “nonsense” weather forecasting and promoted the idea of a proper scientific approach and anyway Evelyn Cusack, Ireland’s chief forecaster is his first cousin he confessed to us. Brendan Haughton besides counting “ands and “buts”27 times, gave us an account, of being trapped in a Force 8 storm off the Welsh coast. He would never ever go out to sea again without getting an accurate forecast. David Clinton, current District 71 Table Topics Champion showed off all his prowess by executing a brilliant melange of all the topics offered. Pat Cowley was dismissive of “Black Friday”.   Evelyn Khan-Panni told of her time when she was a Good Samaritan to a Bianca and I wishing it was Bianca Jagger. Then Bianca Jagger would not be leaving large wallets of cash in a phone box. In the middle of the Topics session Graham Norton rang the timekeeper Mike McDonnell on his mobile phone. Mike answered “Graham, we were just talking about you. “It seemed that we had somehow had been visited by a higher presence from another world .What we were all waiting for. Samuel Beckett would have smiled if he was there. Aine Ni Ghlinn did smile as she stated that she never wanted it to stop.

 Toastmaster Henry King and President Adrian Harney presided urbanely over all the proceedings.

 If I have left anyone out, which I probably have, blame my frail memory and wanting intelligence.

The meeting ended with Ciara Halloran announcing that the next Powertalk meeting would be hosted by Ciara herself in her own house on December 3rd.


Geography or more accurately a sense of place infused the Powertalk Advanced club Toastmasters meeting last night .Before the meeting people felt a certain sensitivity toward Galwegian Toastmaster on the night Chris O’Byrne still and  stoically hurt at his county’s defeat the evening before. There was no cheering Limerick person at the meeting to deepen his pain.

Not to be depressed Corkonian and this year’s President Adrian Harney was the first speaker and spoke of the hidden language that Cork city people use with one another. The speech was entitled “Cork Pride”. Adrian recounted his many teenage forays in the year 1979 to the nightclubs and dancehalls of Cork. His description of such meccas of debauchery as the Arcadia, Vienna Woods was filled with such doubtful characters as lapsipays, (this has to be enunciated in a Cork accent), gawkers gawking, (a Cork form of vomiting Taytos and Tanora lemonade) and other such delights. Adrian to put it simply and he spent much of the speech translating the foreign “pleasures” of Cork, gave a mastery evocation of a time now long gone.

James Scullion, visiting President from Castleknock, evaluated Adrian with all the aplomb of a serene Dubliner. He was not nonplussed by the strange language or the dissipation, stating that Adrian was a masterly storyteller and had only one misgiving about the speech. It ended too suddenly.

PJ Claffey, evaluating the evaluator, agreed with James’s evaluation and even though as a Midlander he was indeed nonplussed by this strange lingo he congratulated the evaluator on his ability to see through to Adrian’s masterly description of a bygone age.

The second speaker Bobby Buckley fresh from his dramatic exploits of Shakespeare in the park on the Merrion Square plinth that afternoon, launched into a speech around the theme of “Friend or Foe”. Mixing in the characterization of his Tipperary mother, family identities Bobby explored the dilemma of his own personal identity. From where I was positioned the audience seemed to be engaged by his over the top performance. This was a voice that could fill parks. All that outdoor acting seems to have filled Bobby’s rhetorical sails. Was it however appropriate for the intimate audience, (around 12) of the upper room of 51 Haddington road?

Adrian Harney heroically stood in on the spot as Bobby’s evaluator and confessed that he was blown away by Bobby’s speech. He had a few niggles about the accents. Bobby did not quite get the Pat Shorrt accent, he complained and Bobby’s mother, Adrian revealed, should have had more of a soprano accent. Adrian as if he was on high heels demonstrated a clichéd female soprano from Tipperary. Bobby was seen to smile and shake his head vigorously.

PJ Claffey was somewhat critical of Adrian’s evaluation stating that he spent too much time on the “wrongs “of the speech when there were so many qualities. PJ was highly impressed by the vocal variety displayed by Bobby. He did quibble however with Bobby’s brazen use of big words. Aphorism anyone?

The third speech was given by visiting speaker from Engineers, Michael Kavanagh. From the title “Anything for the sale Baby, Anything for the sale|” this was a trademark humorous speech from Michael. The speech was a great hit at the recent Hospice speech invitation bash in Harold’s Cross.

Michael gave us a masterly performance on how to deliver a humorous story. There was the central character, a young Michael an innocent abroad, chatting up older women for a prank with such chat up lines as “ I am into older women” and how such youthful japes gets him into trouble but despite all his mishaps the story works inevitably to the denouement built into the line of the title which Michael enunciated with great relish to the audience’s delight. “Anything---“.

Bobby Buckley stood in as Michael’s evaluator and here I am glad to report all was near harmony. Bobby spoke of the masterly central characterization, the precise witty descriptions, often followed by hilarious punch lines like she had “big thighs. “Bobby did confess to be confused by the presence of the many middle age women in the story which he felt slowed the progress of the story.

PJ was very comfortable with Bobby’s evaluation although he would have liked more on how Michael could have improved the speech.

The break and the cocktail sausages, chicken wings, onion rings beckoned and more chat went on with congrats, misunderstandings about the speeches and news from other clubs.

Chris O’Byrne, standing in for Henry King was Topicsmaster for the night. Adrian and Michael locked horns on the sale of an All-Ireland ticket. Much of the humor revolved around Adrian’s ignorance on the present price of an All-Ireland hurling ticket. He would not even buy it at its face value and disengaged by not buying the ticket even though Cork were playing. Failure was again the result when after two minutes of excruciating haggling between a clearly uncomfortable drapers Bobby dismally failed to sell an outfit to a particularly demanding shopper Maura Dolan.

 Guest Robert Smith on his very first topic, (it was Robert’s very first Toastmaster meeting) competently explored the possibilities of the Electric car. Robert would return again with another topic to dream with us on winning the Lottery. We were all impressed by Robert’s altruism. He did allow some of the budget to buy his wife Lin a few handbags. Lin , who also was timekeeper for the night tackled the thorny subject of housing and rent. Bobby spoke of his torture in trying to contain the use of water in his house. He mourned that he had to abandon his vegetable and flower garden this summer and it is only now that the rains have returned that the dahlias are beginning to flower.

Chris , the toastmaster, thanked all who filled in on the night , Lin Smith who was timekeeper, Maura Dolan our camera operative and all who suddenly were launched into roles like visiting James Scullion and guest Robert Smith.

There is Cot1 training next Monday and the next Full meeting will be the club humorous competition on September 17th. Now is the time to be polishing up that humorous speech you always wanted to give.


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Club Discussion Forum
Announcement: Powertalk is a superclub!
Posted: BobbyBuck @ 17 Jul 18, 15:49

At yesterday's Division  training for the new incoming club committees held in Maldron hotel in Clondalkin, 30/06 2018  it was an obvious observation  , maybe a little too obvious that the superclub Powertalk plays a great role in the education of the many advanced Toastmasters in our Division M. Yesterday the magisterial Teresa Redmond , the new in coming Division M director paid tribute to the searching...

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Announcement: Meeting 16th July 2018.
Posted: BobbyBuck @ 17 Jul 18, 15:38

Powertalk meeting   16th July 2018.

At Powertalk’ Toastmasters summer meeting in 51 Haddington the cream of Dublin’s “toasties” came to speak, espouse and engage in rapid repartee. Colm MCGlade was Toastmaster for the evening and sprinkled the meeting throughout with wise quips on Speechcraft.  Like “A great speech is based on preparation”.

Winifred Ryan,...

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Announcement: Powertalk Club Objectives
Posted: Brendan Haughton @ 25 Jan 17, 11:33


Powertalk welcomes all Toastmasters and prospective Toastmasters. It especially welcomes members who have reached at least Stage 6 in the CC and higher. It is NOT an elite Club; it is a Community Club which promotes higher levels of achievement among its members; it is welcoming of all, and especially of guests.

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Announcement: Powertalk Advanced Club and aspiring Academy
Posted: Brendan Haughton @ 05 Sep 14, 08:20

Powertalk, reforming to an Advanced Club & Toastmasters Academy.

We would like to invite you to become part of this exciting project.

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Powertalk is a superclub!

At yesterday's Division  training for the new incoming club committees held in Maldron hotel in Clondalkin, 30/06 2018  it was an obvious observation  , maybe a little...

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LABELS:  POWERTALK ROLE INSPIRING TOASTMASTER LEADERS.,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807
Posted: Power Talk, 17 Jul 18, 15:49 by Bobby Buckley    Comments: 0

Meeting 16th July 2018.

Powertalk meeting   16th July 2018.

At Powertalk’ Toastmasters summer meeting in 51 Haddington the cream of Dublin’s “toasties” came to speak,...

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LABELS:  SPEECH,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807  TALK,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807  SUPER CLUB.,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807
Posted: Power Talk, 17 Jul 18, 15:38 by Bobby Buckley    Comments: 0

Powertalk Club Objectives


Powertalk welcomes all Toastmasters and prospective Toastmasters. It especially...

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LABELS:  OBJECTIVES,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807  ETHOS,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807  MEMBERSHIP,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807  ADVANCED,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807
Posted: Power Talk, 25 Jan 17, 11:33 by Brendan Haughton    Comments: 0

easy-Speak in Romanian
LABELS:  EASY-SPEAK,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807  LANGUAGE,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807  ROMANIAN,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807
Posted: Site-wide posting, 24 Jul 16, 16:23 by Malcolm Warden    Comments: 0
easy-Speak - 10th anniversary edition
LABELS:  EASY-SPEAK,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807  UPDATE,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807  10_ANNIVERSARY,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807
Posted: Site-wide posting, 07 May 15, 08:14 by Malcolm Warden    Comments: 0
Powertalk Advanced Club and aspiring Academy
LABELS:  ADVANCED ACADEMY WELCOME TRAINING,&sid=8807084ac87758c13565a42d28c36807
Posted: Power Talk, 05 Sep 14, 08:20 by Brendan Haughton    Comments: 0

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