What is “Manlooking”, and is the pen mightier than the sword? See how Solent Speakers banished the January Blues at last Tuesday’s meeting in Fareham.
A small crowd braved the freezing weather to gather at the Lysses House Hotel for the second Solent Speakers meeting of 2015, and they were richly rewarded on an evening that produced an ideal mix of light-hearted entertainment and serious advice.
The Toastmaster for the evening was Laura Elliot who, despite performing the role for the first time, discharged her duties with the skill and enthusiasm of an old hand. Laura’s theme, on this day after Blue Monday, was “Beating the January Blues” and her positive energy no doubt left us all with a spring in our step.
Ian Etherson, a regular guest from Hamwic Speakers over in Southampton, continued the theme during the Warm Up, asking each of us to discuss, in 15 seconds, what we do to beat the January blues. There were many interesting responses, but several members turned the question on its head by declaring an absence of such affliction!
David Cockerham led the prepared speeches for the evening with his entertaining tale of Oh, from Thailand and Trys, from Syria, who, upon finding themselves unlucky in love in San Francisco turned to the local library for support. David introduced a new word to the English language:
“Manlooking” – the act of declaring an item forever lost after the most cursory of searches.
David’s entertaining speech ended on a serious note after Kai, from Israel joined the hapless dating duo in the City of Love, and both he and Trys discovered that peace is universal.
Rowena Dodds continued her progress through the Competent Communicator manual with Project #4 by declaring “Je Suis Charlie” and asking the question, “Is the pen mightier than the sword?” She discussed whether we have the right to free speech, questioned Society’s commitment the principle when doing so was inconvenient or conflicted with inside interests, and asked whether the potential to cause offense should be taken into account. Ro concluded with the powerful message that both the sword and the pen have the potential to cause injury, if used with malicious intent. She won the support of the audience for having the courage to discuss such an emotive and controversial topic.
Finally, Russell Streeter was on a mission to help the audience forget about winter with a speech about Barbados, complete with brightly coloured pictures that were projected onto a 10-foot screen! Russell, who is Bajan himself, told the audience how three centuries of English and British rule combined with favourable geography to make Barbados an ideal holiday destination at any time of the year. Russell was voted best speaker of the evening.
After the break, John Tunstall stepped into the familiar role of Table Topics master and, sticking to the overall theme of the January Blues, asked Ian Etherson to tell us about the silliest New Year’s resolution that he, or anyone else (wink, wink) had signed up to (a big-eared friend “Dumbo” who tried to fly). He instructed Antonia Harrison to talk about her ideas for a new public holiday (in the event that she is asked!).
John encouraged Tim Rampton to tell the audience whether or not he liked Blues music (yes), brought David up to the podium the room to talk about a challenge has faced in life (swimming in circles) and even managed to get first time guest James Ballanger in front of the room to discuss which months of the year he liked the best.
The award for best Table Topic Speech was shared by Antonia and Tim, while Gavin Meikle was recognised for his thorough evaluation of the TT participants.
After the awards, club president Russell Streeter reminded the group that were are halfway through the Toastmasters’ year, which meant that it was time to start planning the succession of the Committee. He urged members to consider whether they had the enthusiasm and commitment to serve their club and its members by taking on a role.
Russell also informed members that the first round of the 2015 International Speech competition would take place on the 3rd of March, along with the Evaluation contest, and he encouraged everyone to think about taking part in this event in some way.
I may be but a humble Meeting Reporting, but I can think of few nicer ways to banish the January Blues than by gathering with fellow Toastmasters to be entertained, informed and challenged, in a supportive and relaxed environment. Do join us for our next meeting on the 3rd of February, 19:15 to 21:30 at the Lysses House Hotel in Fareham!