Scouting, Storytelling and the EU!

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 9 Jun 2014


Bang on the dot of 7:30pm, Doreen Gowing, our Sgt@Arms,  tried to catch us out with the chairs facing another direction, but everyone rose to the challenge. Change is good!

After President Jacqui Hogan handed over to the Toastmaster of the Evening Monica we found out that this was to be an evening of storytelling… the chairs had been arranged to give a more intimate environment for our two storytellers after the break.

Alan Grayly gave us an excellent explanation of the benefits of Table Topics and proceeded to introduce his topical session on countries in Europe. Nick Bailey kicked us off by telling us that he didn’t like France, giving us some personal examples! Then he tempered his speech with some reasons why France wasn’t so bad after all. John Callaghan was asked to tell us about Sweden, which I thought would be tough task. But John rose to the occasion by saying he would tell us four things about Sweden, which swiftly turned into a humorous six things with audience participation. Helen Elliott followed with a vivid description of German waitresses carrying impossible numbers of foaming beer steins, and Richard Davies demonstrated a classic Table Topic delaying technique of talking about everything except Poland… until he remembered a story of his own. Zahid Aziz also demonstrated a tactic, this time of asking the audience for their help, while he tried to think of something interesting  to say about Belgium… a problem we all have. The final speaker was Doreen Gowing who spoke entertainingly of her adventures in Spain.

Then it was time for our prepared speeches.

Mohammed Aziz gave us an intriguing view of the reasons behind fasting for Ramadan. For him, this was an opportunity to think about those in the world who did not have enough to eat (although he also said his wife thought a diet was a good result also). Scouting was the topic of Matthew Woolacott‘s speech, with the title ‘Dib Dib Dib’. With a reference to his own speech preparation, he advised us all to be prepared. I will never venture into the woods at night anywhere, but especially not after Paul Aherne‘s speech about his Valentine’s Day experience and Camp 19. More scouts, but this time they were Ninja Scouts. Be afraid, be very afraid… of getting lost!

Following the break, we then settled down for our storytelling session.

Holiday stories are rarely told with such joy and enthusiasm as Julie Farrell‘s speech on the three wonders of Agra. She took us from the beauty of the Taj Mahal, to her wonderful hosts the Khan family – with their philosophy of ‘guest is god’.  When I heard the title of Eric Elliott‘s speech ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, I felt sure it was a reference to a Beatles’ song! But no. This turned out to be a story of hardship, painting and curtains – a mess of paint and white spirit. And the message that your children’s health is more important than a dirty house.

Our evaluation team of Michael Williams, Mell Sheppard, Fatiha Lafkar, Chris Boden and Norman Rhodes did a superb job of identifying the gold nuggets in the speeches they evaluated, together with clear examples of what was done well and how improvements could be made. It was hard to believe this was Michael’s first evaluation, and I so admire Chris’s ability to give an evaluation with almost no notes. Jacqui Hogan followed with a General Evaluation of the whole evening, giving feedback to table topics speakers and evaluators in particular.

Finally Grant Oliver, our Grammarian and ah counter, told us who had used too many ums and ers. It was a good evening, as we used very few – Tony Searby also did an excellent job with those all-important timing lights, which were meticulously observed tonight!

Impressively, on an evening where we had lots of table topics, together with five speeches – two of them advanced – we finished only a couple of minutes late.

The next meeting will be on Monday 23rd June at 19:30. See you all there for another classic night of speeches at MSC!


Published by Steve Cann

I love music! I've also recorded & performed my own songs (& once played in a band) & sometimes attend open mic nights. I enjoy comedy club nights & rock gigs, & countryside walks/country pubs... & life's simple pleasures, such as relaxing with a great book. I love exploring London, & particularly pub walks - there's so many wonderful pubs in the metropolis that I didn't know existed before I started doing these... I never get tired of London. I enjoy meditation, keeping fit, yoga & staying in good shape - healthy body, healthy mind & all that. I'm always open to new experiences, & strive to live life mindfully - enjoying the present moment. I've more recently got into public speaking, becoming a Toastmaster - it's great fun, & an invaluable way of learning new skills & extra confidence.

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