Lights, Contest, Action!


Maidenhead Speakers Club  – Monday 30 September 2013

WITH GUEST BLOGGER, JOHN CALLAGHAN

Top speeches. Top humour. Top evening! The Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests on 30 September were packed – several toastmasters deep! Which is always a good sign of a lively club where the members want to stretch themselves. Never mind “never mind the quality feel the width” – here we had both the quality and the width!

The main event was the humorous speeches, which proved not only humorous but surprisingly informative – albeit much of it being about things not to do!

Zahid Aziz was first up and explained what many of us already knew – that the search for true love rarely goes smoothly and it can sometimes be best to hand over to an expert – putting your feet up whilst leaving the arrangements to your mum!

Jacqui Hogan’s search was for something rather different – the perfect cinch – aka a corset! In a prop revelation unmatched since Bucks Fizz ripped off skirts for England (Eurovision 1981 – I was there – watching telly that is, not actually there) those of us who had never actually seen a corset before had all our questions answered, as well as some more we hadn’t even thought of.

Flying south was the theme of Steve Cann’s speech. With a speech structure something akin to The Gruffalo, Steve warned of the perils of that all-too enticing winter holiday in Lanzarote – unwanted beach salesmen, and in particular, the dreaded purveyor of the timeshare.  Well-dodged that bullet Steve!

Nick Bailey (a toastmaster renowned for his travels worldwide) shared his experiences of a Japanese spa bath with big feet, a small locker and only a small flannel protecting his dignity. But guided by his travellers code of honour to sample the local culture, the moral of the story was clear – or at least it was if you spoke Japanese: when in Rome – go feed the lions.

Yohan MacDonald last week gave an educational speech about how to start off a speech. Taking his own advice, Yohan enlisted the raw vocal power of Frankie Goes to Hollywood in his opener and asking WAR!? Are Women Always Right? Presenting evidence both for and against – the jury’s still out on that one!

The old man of Hoy, a near-death experience and a family crisis calmly averted by a seasoned explorer – all in a day’s growing up for a young Keith Clarke who won Third Prize with his tale of youthful derring do!

Next up was Chris Boden who explained the pitfalls of taking the plunge and living in the now: dancing like no one’s watching, singing like no one’s listening,  and loving like you’ve never been hurt. Wise words indeed. But maybe not ones to take too literally – as Chris’s arrest warrant, ASBO and restraining order testify. Could have been worse Chris  – they could have transported you to some awful antipodean colony!

Finally Sam Billington gave a fresh perspective on Toastmasters and Hogan’s School of Toastmastery.  Deploying skills with powerpoint that I still haven’t mastered, (you mean the presenter should look at the audience and not at their own slides? How does that work?) Sam cast a rye eye at how we do what we do at MSC. Very original. I’ll never feel bad about forgetting my Competent Leader manual behind again.

In the face of some very stiff competition, Sam came runner-up with his first contest entry, whilst Chris came first.

Chris Boden receives his certificate & trophy for winning the 2013 MSC Humorous Speech Contest.

Chris Boden receives his certificate & trophy for winning the 2013 MSC Humorous Speech Contest.

Sam Billington receives his certificate for finishing 2nd in the 2013 MSC Humorous Speech Contest.

Sam Billington receives his certificate for finishing 2nd in the 2013 MSC Humorous Speech Contest.

Keith Clarke receives his certificate for finishing 3rd in the 2013 MSC Humorous Speech Contest.

Keith Clarke receives his certificate for finishing 3rd in the 2013 MSC Humorous Speech Contest.

The second contest of the evening was the Table Topics Contest, to which contestants had to say how they would respond to Lou Reed’s lyric: “It’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you.” Zahid compared the lyrics to those of an Indian song – for him it would be a day with his wife and kids.

Sam Billington explained that he would take the opportunity to spend a day with Tim Minchin, the Aussie comedian with amazing hair (and stary scary eyes!) or, boarding school having made the heart grow fonder, his parents.

A perfect day for Nick Bailey brought to mind a time when he looked after his friend’s two year old daughter – despite her not speaking a word of English

Yohan MacDonald was conflicted! Weighing up the options of spending the day by himself singing… or spending it with his ten-month-old baby.

Chris Boden yearned to spend his perfect day with some criminal lowlife – if only to make him realize that the rest of his life was in fact – by comparison – a perfect day!

Keith Clarke explained that his perfect day involves a street party, a chef’s hat and a street party-size dish of paella.

Like Yohan, John Callaghan was torn, but pretty quickly came down in favour of a day filled with peace, quiet, a pint and some quality reading material.

Steve Cann cut through the “dark waters of table topics closing in around me” (excellent turn of phrase – where’s the grammarian when you need them!?) to select David Bowie as his companion for a perfect day. Okay he might be half-human/half-alien but as a cool bohemian who must be seventy, who better?

Finally, Jacqui Hogan told us about how she and Lou Reed almost shared a perfect day but was alas usurped by Mendelssohn – that’s weddings for you! I don’t know about you, but I always cry at weddings. And parties. At least at weddings you get to wear a hat!

Third place went to Jacqui Hogan, second to John Callaghan and first to Chris Boden.

Chris Boden receives his certificate & trophy for winning the 2013 MSC Table Topics Contest.

Chris Boden receives his certificate & trophy for winning the 2013 MSC Table Topics Contest.

John Callaghan receives his certificate for finishing 2nd in the 2013 MSC Table Topics Contest.

John Callaghan receives his certificate for finishing 2nd in the 2013 MSC Table Topics Contest.

Jacqui Hogan receives her certificate for finishing 3rd in the 2013 MSC Table Topics Contest.

Jacqui Hogan receives her certificate for finishing 3rd in the 2013 MSC Table Topics Contest.

So much for the contests – however this match report wouldn’t be complete without a few words on the dramatic behind-the-scenes action of the last few days. Maidenhead Speakers are indebted to their VP.Ed., Julie Farrell, who took over at the drop of a hat as Contest Chair when Beshlie Donaldson had an unscheduled short stay-cation in Wexham Park, so she could part company with her appendix in an amicable but abrupt manner (hope you’re feeling better Beshlie). As a testament to the arrangements put in place by Beshlie, and the unflappability of Julie, together with her Chief Judge, Lorraine Hamilton, the evening ran smoothly despite a packed programme and with some warm-up/time filling/toastmastery stuff that made sure everyone had at least twenty seconds in the spotlight, and everyone was kept engaged during the intro and count-y bits. Top stuff!

The next meeting is of course the Area Speech Contest on Saturday at Burnham Park Hall – good luck to our winners today who will be representing the club.

Our next regular club night at Maidenhead Speakers will be on October 14th – see you all there!

4 responses to “Lights, Contest, Action!

  1. This is such an excellent account – thank you! 🙂

    Well done to all the contestants – the standard at our club is so high; makes me so proud! 🙂

  2. Thanks for such a comprehensive & enjoyable blog John – you did so well there, despite being a contestant on the night as well!
    I had such a great time competing too – it felt very relaxed, not like a contest situation at all, which was great.
    Well done again Jules on doing such a fab job as Contest Chair, & making it all look so easy & effortless.
    And well done to my son Sam for finishing as runner-up – I’m so proud of him! 🙂

  3. Helen Elliott

    Sooooo sorry that I missed what appears to have been a contest above exellence. See you Saturday. Helen

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