Newsletter April 2021

When will we ….. meet again?

This week saw our 53rd weekly zoom gathering, since Coronavirus and social distancing forced lockdown and a suspension of physical gatherings.

Speaking personally … the gatherings have been enjoyable, a highlight in empty weeks BUT it will be good to meet up, in the same room, to see faces break into smiles.

We discussed holding a virtual AGM, as many organisations are doing but we decided that we’d wait; September is the ordained month for our AGM and 16th is the 3rd Thursday in the month, so that’s our hope a real, physical AGM on Thursday 16th September 2021.  More details will follow.

When will we meet again? 

In thunder, lightning, or in rain? When the hurlyburly ‘s done, when the battle ‘s lost and won.

Humanist Schools in Uganda

Coventry and Warwickshire humanists, individually and as a group, have supported African schools and pupils for some years, this support continues. Steve Hurd, from Ugandan Schools Trust has sent the following message:

Please thank Coventry & Warwick Humanists for their generous donation of £200 towards the two new primary schools in Uganda. We have the funds to buy them now, but we need every help we can get to pay for refurbishment, staffing and equipping with books, learning and play materials.

Things were going so well for the schools before Covid hit and, since, it has been a struggle to pay the staff when they have had no local income – but we have managed to keep the staff team together and are hoping for a brighter future.

As you may be aware, during the Covid closure, we have done quite a bit of building work:

– a boys’ dormitory at Mustard Seed School

– new hall at Isaac Newton

– brand new primary school for the Kanungu Community, which suffered the cult massacre of 780 men, women and children in 2000.

– a nearly finished new school for the Katumba Parents, mainly single mothers whose husbands were killed in an abortive uprising in 2016.

At the moment, things are frenetic. We are buying two primary schools, forced to close due to the loss of income from the covid lockdown. These will provide primary sections to both Isaac Newton and Mustard Seed Schools and, we hope, greatly improve children’s life chances in their areas.

Once we have bought the schools, which may happen next week, we need to refurbish them, secure good teachers and pay them, and buy furniture, books, learning and play resources.

If you were interested I would be happy to talk about developments in Uganda on Zoom.

A huge thank you to everyone in the group.

Best wishes

Steve Hurd

We will take up Steve on his offer and hope to welcome him to a zoom gathering soon.

Egghead supply cartoons to our zoom gatherings and newsletters.

EVENTS THAT HAVE HAPPENED IN PREVIOUS APRILS by BGB

1) Sir Robert Walpole became Britain’s first Prime Minister on 3rd April 1721

2) Richard 1st died from an infected wound while besieging Chalus Castle in       France on 6th April 1199. He was succeeded by his brother John

3) The notorious highwayman Dick Turpin, hanged at York on 7th April 1739

4) Renowned Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born on 9th April 1806. Among his famous constructions were Clifton Bridge, Bristol, the SS Great Britain and the Great Western Railway

5) On 10th April 1633 bananas were first sold in London. These bananas came from Bermuda

6) The coronation of William lll and Mary ll took place on 11th April 1689 after they succeeded Queen Anne

7) On 13th April 1919, British troops led by Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer opened fire into a crowd of 10,000 Sikh unarmed civilians at Amritsar, India. 379 unarmed Sikhs died

8) Dr Samuel Johnson published his first dictionary on 15th April 1755. It took him 9 years to complete

9) The last military battle in Britain was fought on 16th April 1746 at Culloden Moor, Scotland. The battle was between Scottish Highlanders and Jacobites led by Bonnie Prince Charlie and British troops led by the Duke of Cumberland

10) On 17th April 1969 the UK voting age was reduced from 21 to 18.  Harold Wilson was the Prime Minister who introduced this policy. But new young voters did not do him any favours as he lost the next General Election to Edward Heath

11) Henry Vlll became King on 21st April 1509. Henry’s older brother Arthur died at the age of 15 in 1502

12) Local lad William Shakespeare was born on 23rd April, 1564 and died on 23rd April in 1616

13) On 25th April 1915 Anzac troops (Australia & New Zealand) suffered massive casualties as they attacked the Turkish stronghold at Gallipoli. Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty was held responsible for this military disaster

14) Captain James Cook is believed to be the first European to land in Australia on 28th April 1770. The first landing took place at Botany Bay

15) On 29th April 1884, Oxford University admitted female students for the first time to sit an examination. But it was not until October1920 that women were allowed to sit for a degree qualification

Oh, to be in England  written by Robert Browning, chosen by Secretary Audrey

Oh, to be in England

Now that April’s there,

And whoever wakes in England

Sees, some morning, unaware,

That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf

Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,

While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough

In England – now!!

And after April, when May follows,

And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!

Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge

Leans to the field and scatters on the clover

Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge –

That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,

Lest you should think he never could recapture

The first fine careless rapture!

And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,

All will be gay when noontide wakes anew

The buttercups, the little children’s dower

– Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower

I am scouring the skies for swallows, haven’t seen one yet, nor martins, nor swifts.  Robert Browning doesn’t mention bluebells, which are just beginning to flower (14th April), soaking up the sunshine before the tree canopies shade the ground.

Contributions to C & W Humanist Funds

Running costs for our group are modest.  For example, this monthly newsletter needs to be posted to just a few addresses, it’s emailed free, to most people.

Some of our annual costs are: 

Affiliation fees: Humanists UK £75; Humanists International £30; National Secular Society £34; website (WordPress) £100.

We bought 12 Remembrance Wreaths last year, £240 in total.

When we do re-start physical meetings, we usually make enough from room collections to cover the cost of the meeting. 

However, if we decide to support a good cause, for example, this month’s donation to schools in Uganda, balances wither!

We ask that each supporter makes an annual contribution.  £10 is the suggested figure.  We realise that this sum will be too great for some and we fantasise that there will be others who will give more.  Any contributions will be appreciated, we give, what we can afford.  Our treasurer is Adrian Davis, and you can email him at: adridav@gmail.com or bullion deliveries can be made to my house, in darkness.

Some Films and TV Programmes to look out for this week

Saturday 17th April:

13.05 Sony Movie Classics – The Wild One: The first, the best, and the quintessential motorbike movie. Long banned in the UK. Marlon Brando as the sullen, leather-clad leader of a motorcycle gang with his fellow hell-raising rebels pitch up in a small town, where he woos the sheriff’s daughter.

21.00 Channel 4 – First Man: The story of how Neil Armstrong got to the Moon is told in rich and intimate detail in this thrilling film. From his early days in 1961 as a NASA test pilot. Oscar-winning drama based on the book by James R Hansen, starring Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy.

22.50 Talking Pictures – The Man Who Fell to Earth – An excellent cult classic sci-fi drama starring David Bowie. An alien is sent to Earth to find a way to save his dying home planet. He adopts a human identity and uses his advanced knowledge to become a successful tycoon. Directed by Nicolas Roeg’s and starring David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark and Buck Henry.

23.15 Film 4 – Charlie Says – An excellent biographical drama. Three years after the infamous Manson murders, a graduate student is tasked with teaching 3 young women who were involved in the homicides. She struggles to break through the brainwashing they received during their time in Charles Manson’s commune. Starring Hannah Murray, Matt Smith and Sosie Bacon.

Sunday 18th April:

21.00 BBC1 – Line of Duty – Another episode of the best police-crime drama series

22.00 BBC2 – I Tonya – A true story and comedy bio-pic of ice skater Tonya Harding who rises through the ranks at the US figure skating championships. Her future in the sport is thrown into question by a shocking incident after her ex-husband steps in. Starring Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, and Allison Janney, who won a Bafta and an Oscar for her performance as Tonya’s mother.

Monday 19th April:

21.00 BBC4 – Mark Kermode’s Oscar Winners: A Secrets of Cinema Special – As the red carpet season reaches its climax, the doyen of film critics Mark Kermode looks back at past winners of the prestigious award, and celebrates some of the most memorable performances. As with his previous series, this is wonderfully sharp, witty and thought-provoking. A ‘must’ for any film fan

22.00 BBC4 – Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation – Documentary examining the 1993 death of Stephen Lawrence, beginning with a look at events leading up to his murder and the police investigation that follows. As the suspects remain free, tip-offs from the community make Stephen’s parents wonder why arrests are not being made. Episodes 2 & 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday

Wednesday 21st April:

21.00 BBC2 – Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty – Another episode of the documentary examining corruption in the police in the 1970s, revealing how a secret network of officers was operating illegally throughout London and led to the formation of the first internal anti-corruption unit A10, which inspired the BBC drama Line of Duty.

Thursday 22nd April:

18.55 Film 4 – A Walk in the Woods – A fact-based drama. Robert Redford as travel writer Bill Bryson decides to hike the Appalachian Trail, through some of America’s most rugged terrain. The only companion he can find is a roguish old friend, who sees it as an opportunity to get out of paying his debts. A warm, witty, woodsy and mature movie. Also starring Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson.

Friday 23rd April:

23.05 BBC1 Philomena – A teenager in 1950s Ireland becomes pregnant, and is sent to a home for `fallen women’, while her baby is forcibly taken from her and sent to America to be adopted. Fifty years later, she meets a disillusioned political journalist who attempts to reunite her with her son. Fact-based drama, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. Both actors on sparkling form.

BGB

P.S. Two Quick Jokes:

A weasel walks into a bar

The barman looks surprised and says

‘What can I get you?’

‘Pop goes the weasel’

To whoever stole my glasses?

I will find you

I have contacts!

The Armchair Audience

Things for the autumn and winter are starting to look a lot better for us theatre addicts, and we have everything tightly crossed that some of the promised productions will go ahead.  There are plenty of outdoor shows planned for the summer, and even some indoor ones – I was a bit cautious about the latter until I heard that Michael Sheen is appearing in Under Milk Wood at the National Theatre in late June, and caution was immediately thrown to the wind…….

In the meantime, there’s still plenty to enjoy at home.  Last month, I plugged the Old Vic’s production of Dr Seuss’s The Lorax which has been adapted to be performed live on-line.  I bought a ticket for my six year old nephew, and he was utterly entranced. So, if you’ve got youngsters you’d like to be entertained for a couple of hours, it’s highly recommended, and there are a couple more performances to go.

There’s a huge amount of theatre available on YouTube if you seek it out – lots of companies have released old productions, and there are some real gems to be found.  An example is Girls Like That, a hit play from 2014 at the Unicorn Theatre.  It follows a group of schoolgirls reacting as one of their peers has naked photos of themselves leaked online – a pertinent issue for the present day, and a good way to get into a knotty play during the quiet hours.  And Manchester International’s Festival have put all their productions from last year and 2019 online on YouTube, which is a fantastic opportunity to find something unusual and new.

Finally, if it’s opera you’re craving, rather than drama, then Opera North have made their production of Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti available on YouTube.  It’s a witty satire on the American dream, and is absolutely fantastic, well worth a watch.           Jacqueline Campbell

The Campaign for a change in the law to make Assisted Dying legal.

Brian Nicol has penned this article for the local press

Public support for legally sanctioned assisted dying is gaining ground

‘Support for legally sanctioned Assisted Dying is gaining ground. Each year sees more and more countries or legal jurisdictions pass legislation to help people suffering from incurable pain to end their lives. In March, Spain joined the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg increasing the number of counties in Europe willing to give their citizens a way to escape from incurable suffering that they cannot undertake themselves without help. Worldwide the number is also growing including: Canada, New Zealand and several US States.

Public opinion in favour worldwide is also growing. In the UK a recent poll found that 84% of the public support giving assistance (with safeguards) to terminally ill patients suffering pain and no less than 47% of those polled said that they would break the law, risking a 14-year prison sentence, to help a loved one. Although most religions are officially against change, 79% of people who described themselves as religious were also in favour.

So why hasn’t the UK Parliament listened to the people? The last time the issue was debated parliament was in 2015 when a private members Bill was defeated by 330 to 118. The proposed legislation would have allowed Assisted Dying in very restricted circumstances and with a great many safeguards. For many of those against it was perhaps the ‘slippery slope’ argument. Once the principle is accepted of the state, via the NHS, helping people to kill themselves albeit in very restricted circumstances, where might it lead in the future? How do we know what pressures might be put on people to request an early death.

The response is that year by year, as the experience of countries who have legislated becomes available, it is becoming clear that the fears are unfounded even for countries like Belgium which has much wider criteria for a request to be made. Since 2015 other things have changed. Notably the position of the doctors who would be in the front line of providing the assistance. Previously the BMA was opposed to assisted dying, although its membership had not been consulted. Responding to pressure the doctors have now been asked with the result the half would be in favour of change.

A new initiative has now brought the issue again to the fore. Barry Marsh a leading brain surgeon and notable author on medical matters has written a letter to Robert Buckland the Justice Secretary asking for a state sponsored enquiry into the state of the law and its implementation. The letter has the backing of the campaign group My Death, My Decision and of Humanists UK. Some 50 plus MPs have also given their support for change including some who were previously against it but would now like an independent enquiry to look at the facts. It would be good if Jeremy Wright would also have an open mind on the issue and take into consideration the views of many of his constituents.

Dr Brian Nicol

Coventry  and Warwickshire Humanists’

Finally

Thanks to those who have contributed articles etc for this newsletter.  Our May Newsletter will be posted on Thursday 20th May 2021 and so, if you have items for it, please email them to the blue email address below by Tuesday 18th May.

Our C & W Humanists 54th zoom gathering will take place on Wednesday 21st April 2021 at 7.30 p.m.  If you would like to pop in, you will be very welcome, please email me at rmjelley@gmail.com and you will receive an invitation.

2nd jab for me today and no aches!

Where there’s no sense …… .. …….

Stay safe.

Finally, Finally

News that George Broadhead, a founding father of C & W Humanists, is in hospital after suffering falls.

Best wishes to George and Roy, get better soon George.

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