Friday, November 28, 2014


Fancy Dress For Halloween At Brighton Conference

The theme was Halloween at the Friday night fancy dress contest after dinner at the opening night of the Toastmasters International (speakers contest) conference at Brighton. Which month? You've guessed. November. 2014.

Every supermarket in London had halloween costumes, witches' hats, masks and more, mainly in the colours or orange and black. The first time I attended a contest I somehow failed to notice the fancy dress competition nor think of packing anything. I now know that when attending any conference pack a conical witches hat. You can always decorate it to fit the theme of a fancy dress party. If you can think of a rhyming couplet to match your outfit, even better. 

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Quotations on Wine

  • A glass of wine and thou.
  • At my age, I need glasses.
  • A que vino si no toma vino! (Why did you come if you don’t drink wine. The word vino in Spanish means both wine and came.)
  • Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.
  • Champagne and orange juice is a great drink. The orange juice improves the Champagne and the Champagne definitely improves the orange juice. (Duke of Edinburgh.)
  • Champagne gives me zest when I feel tired. (Brigitte Bardot.)
  • Come quickly, I am tasting the stars. (Dom Perignon, when he discovered Champagne. But wiki says bubbles were originally viewed as a fault.)
  • Don’t drink and drive. (Xmas road safety ad.)
  • Five reasons why we should drink, ‘Good friends, good times, or being dry, or lest we should be by and by, or any other reason why. (Thomas Jefferson.)
  • God made water, man made wine. (Victor Hugo.)
  • Good wine needs no bush.
  • I cook with wine, and sometimes I even add it to the food. (W C Fields.)
  • I drink it when I am happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I’m thirsty. (Madam Lily Bollinger, in London to launch the first vintage of Bollinger RD Champagne, to the Daily Mail, Oct 17, 1961.)
  • I’m only a beer teetotaller, not a Champagne teetotaller. (George Bernard Shaw)
  • It you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even put. (Dean Martin.)
  • In vino veritas. (In wine there is truth. Pliny the Elder, 23-79 A.D.)
  • My only regret is that I did not drink more Champagne.
    (Lord Maynard Keynes, on his deathbed. Milton Keynes is named after him.) 
  • Look, it’s wine o’clock.
  • Remember, gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s champagne. (WWI Winston Churchill., 30 Nov 1874-Jan 24 1965)
  • Save water. Drink wine.
  • The best use of bad wine is to drive away poor relations. (French proverb.)
  • The rich want good wine. The poor want plenty of wine. (German poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832)
  • There are five reasons for drinking wine, the arrival of a friend, feeling thirsty, a good wine, any other reason.  (Latin saying.)
  • There is a devil in every berry of the grape. (Koran.)
  • Which three things would you take to a desert island? (To Goethe, writer of poetry, drama, novels and more.) ‘Poetry, a beautiful women and bottles of wine.’  And if you had to choose only two? ‘Depends on the vintage.’
  • Whisky is a slap on the back. Wine is a mist before the eyes. (Jimmy Stewart in the movie Philadelphia Story)
  • When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading. (Henry Youngman.)
  • Wine improves with age. I improve with wine.
  • Wine is bottled poetry. (Robert Louis Stevenson.)
  • Wine is (constant) proof that God loves us and wants to see us (to be) happy. (Benjamin Franklin 17 Jan 1706-17 Apr 1790.)
  • Wine is the most healthful and hygienic of beverages. (Pasteur.)
  • Wine makes a man mistake words for thoughts. (Samuel Jonson.)
  • Wine, women and song.
From Quick Quotations by Angela Lansbury (Third version)

More champagne quotations on the website

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Humorous Speech - What You Need To Know About Wine - even if you don't drink it - and why you should drink it

Music stand is set up with A4 notes. 
(Speaker staggers around stage swinging empty Mateus Rose bottle, and empty glass, pours out, nothing, holds up bottle, looks in bottle. Wipes eye.)

Leans against music stand which falls over.
Hic! Now you know why speakers are told not to drink, and not to rely on notes.
In vino veritas.
A drunk will tell you anything. But if you get drunk you won't remember it.
Dogenes said, what I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others. You'll be glad to know that he died some time ago. He was an ancient Greek. He lived to the age of ...

Benjamin Franklin said, Wine is proof that' God loves us and wants us to be happy.
My friend Bill Dempster of HOD speakers, in Toastmasters international, claimed that Benjamin Franklin was referring to whisky.
As Mandy Rice Davis, famously said at a trial in London, He would say that, wouldn't he.
This, as you can see, is an empty bottle. I shall talk about the average drinker's view of an empty wine bottle and a drink, and a drinker.

First - the empty wine bottle
An empty wine bottle produces one of two reactions, positive and negative. I can see from your hopeful, puzzled, slightly disappointed face that you were thinking, first, "Why isn't it full, I was hoping to drink some!'

Why is the bottle green?
To protect wine from the light. Light and heat ruin wine. So you store your best bottle of champagne in a dark cellar, or a wine cabinet in the unheated dining room.

Champagne is expensive. Watch out for fakes.
More so-called Champagne is sold worldwide than is made in Champagne. It used to be said that it was Prosecco. French similar wine is called Cremant. Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava are good sparkling wines,.So is Asti. Spumante means sparkling. Same applies to all wines. How do you spot a fake. If the name of the country is wrongly spelled on the label, that's a giveaway. A woman spotted Chardonnay spelled with s instead of C. Another fake label had Austr(a)lian with the middle a missing.

Ordinary wine is made from grapes and unlike sparkling wine has no bubbles.

Red wine comes from red grape skins from black grapes. Young wine is pale, white, pale pink if you add a few grape skins. Deep red if allowed to stay on the skins, and mature in the bottle.
Joan Collins said, "Age is just a number, Totally irrelevant. Unless you happen to be a bottle of wine."
Sometimes wine has been left too long, or got corked, and oxidised, and gone brown.

Second what's in the glass?
How many units in the glass?
Not enough. If it's a small glass, only 125, I, a woman, can have two, over a two hour lunch or a day. Most men are taller, broader, and metabolise differently.
Six small 125 cl glasses in a 75 cl bottle. Only three large 250 cl glasses.

For more details go to the website of drink aware.

Your second thought was: "Why is the bottle empty? You should not have drunk all of that on your own.'

How many drinkers are in an English audience? On a Sunday?
Sir Thomas Aquinus said, "Sorrow can be alleviated by a good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine."

In England, if I invite my Christian neighbours around, they are hoping for a drink.

In Singapore, if I invite my Christian neighbours around, they send a note of apology for absence, 'We are not allowed to drink on Sunday.'
In Singapore, Christians are converted by missionaries, and don't drink.

In England, Ireland, and Scotland, the average Christian person drinks. Most drinkers are nocturnal. You can see them staggering around the city centre on a Saturday night at midnight. Some have already gone home - to lie down.

If you wake up with a hangover, or headache, this is caused by dehydration. Or the memory of what you did. If you can't remember, ask your fiends. If they say they can't remember, you have good friends. If you have drunk more than you should you may wake up and see friends and family looking anxious.

Or you may see a nurse - or a policeman, with a breathalyser. In France the law says you have to carry your own breathalyser.

You drink every week, drink communion. And all week you prepare for communion,  so you need to drink. Also you need something to confess in confession. Such as, Father, I've been drinking all week, everything except my last green bottle. There were ten green bottles hanging on the wall."

The priest says, "I remember them well. Didn't we have a good time! As a penance you must bring me the last bottle."

Let's be serious. It's hard, but we'll try. The average English person drinks 20 litres a year. Take away all the teetotallers, children, hospital patients, Jews and Moslems, drivers, pilots.
That only leaves you and me. And the Bill. I don't drink that much. I told you that you were drinking too much.) (I told Bill he was drinking too much.)

Some drink more than the average, and some drink less than the average. You know what average means, a small number of non-drinkers pull down the average. The average person has 9.4 fingers, but the majority have ten. The average person drinks more than the average person.

This is a good subject for debate over a drink with the average person.

Where were we? Ah yes,

A drinker will think, "Why didn't you share it with me? A teetotaller will think, you shouldn't be drinking at all!"

I shall start with reasons why you shouldn't drink. Then why you should not drink too much. Then how to know what not to drink, then how to find out what not to drink.

Who doesn't know much about wine. Hands up. That was a rhetorical question. How many of you would like to know more? How many o you would like to know less? The first group are in luck.

Who are the people who don't know much about wine and don't drink much?

1 Those who are too young to drink. Not many of you look to young. Some of you are too old, but you are still drinking. Some say you are never too old to drink.

Jews do not drink a lot. Though many rabbis have owned vineyards. The Rothschilds have owned vineyards.
You can buy a poster of Rothschild wine labels at Waddesdon Manor, a National Trust property, and see one in the Wine Society shop in Stevenage.
If you can't sell a wine, put a piece of art work on the bottle.
3 That doubles the number who buy the bottle. Some want to open the bottle and drink the contents. The others want to leave it unopened and put it on the shelf.

Moslems do not drink a lot. Often the owner of an Indian or Pakistani or Bangladeshi restaurant has a short wine list because the customers do not drink much wine or the owners do not know about wine.

The rule is, white wine with white meat or white fish and red wine, which has a stronger flavour, with dark meat. Sweet wines go with sweet dishes or desserts.

4 Champagne dates back to Roman times, It was used as a bubble bath at orgies when people swan naked in it. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, and I don't have time to demonstrate. We don't have time to see if it's an aphrodisiac.

In the early days, in France, bubbles were considered a fault. Thick bottles had to be used to stop the bottles exploding.

Wines have a fashion. At one time Veuve Cliquot would not make pink Champagne because it was drunk in brothels.
As the humorous playwright Bernard Shaw said of the Pope and birth control, 'Why would I listen to him. Either he doesn't know anything about the subject, or he shouldn't.'

This century the Champagne producers started making pink Champagne and it became fashionable for weddings. Pink became a summer drink. Either people had forgotten, or they remembered fondly but wouldn't admit it.

Napoleon said, "In victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it."
When Napoleon lost (at Waterloo), the Russians invaded France and pinched all the wines from Veuve Cliquot, as she watched them drinking her wine,
She said, stoically, "If they drink it free today, tomorrow they'll pay."

We drink too much. Don't drink and drive.
Wine dehydrates you and gives you a headache.
It makes you argumentative. Don't argue with me.
There are five safety issues.
1You damage your liver, your stomach, your throat, you get mouth throat and stomach cancer and have heart attacks. Worrying about all this would give anybody a heart attack.
2 You have fights with strangers.
3 You lose your job.
4 Drink causes car accidents.
5 And increases the likelihood of your having unsafe sex. (Grins.) Hence, the song:
have some Madeira, m'dear. But, as
Shakesepeare said, "drink increases the desire but decreases the performance."

5 To sum up:
Life is too short to drink bad wine. Nobody knows who said that first. But I said it first this evening.

Wine is good for me but it's bad for you.
Wine is bad for - your liver, and bad for your lover, you should drink to success but not to excess.

If you have leftover wine, save it using a device called a Coravin, like cork and caravan. It enables you to put the cork back on the bottle and travel with it. Buy a Coravin from Harrods.

So, finally, you should not be drinking. If you have any bottles of drink at home, recycle them, by popping the cork back on, sticking them in your car, Campavan, or Caravan, and giving them to me.

Designated decoy joke.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Finding a topic to suit your speciality and a speech requirement

If you meet the secretary of a non-toastmasters club looking for speakers they will ask what subject you speak about. Select your speciality, e.g. which could be sports and endurance. Then find a sports topic to fit the subject. eg
Storytelling, anything from Greek myths to Bruce Lee to the founder of the paralympics.
Information - For to inform; anything on sports, eg sports equipment, weight loss, health for office workers or later life retirees; insurance; sports clinics and sports injuries;   exercise on planes.
Entertaining/ and sports: films about sports; dramatic rescues; ski feats; paragliding; bungee jumping; ice (skating) dancing; sports romances - your favourite character or that of your audience, near misses in endurance sports.
Failing all else, google all the subjects and people related to your area of expertise (your work, family, hobbies or interests - or even what you cannot do).
Find some quotations on sport. Write a speech about one of these quotations. Start by doing it as a timed table topic. On Skype to your mentor. Or alone just record it or make notes afterwards and expand this into a speech.
You should get a mentor from your club to talk through possible subjects on the phone.
Angela Lansbury
Member of HOD and Harrovians clubs in London.
Former President of Harrovians.
Author of Quick Quotations.
Blogs on Angela Lansbury speeches.  

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Monday, November 10, 2014


What I learned from Toastmasters Conference and Humorous Speech Contest at Brighton 2014

The autumn Toastmasters conference was held at Brighton and I stayed in the contest hotel, The Thistle.

From the bedroom window I could see the coloured lights in the atrium lounge below and right through the building to the sea beyond.

Friday night started with a fancy dress party on the theme of Halloween. (For pictures of that see later post.)

Workshops included Gaynor on Gestures.
Gaynor was brilliant, entertaining as well as informative. She reminded us about using the whole stage, sometimes to show a physical journey, or to progress through time, but not walking back and forth aimlessly and distractingly.

Improv with the Maydays

Table Topics Contest

I'm planning to use my experiences at the conference for a speech to clubs about what I learned from the contests and workshops.

The Impromptu Table Topics Contestants' Speeches
The impromptu speeches are great fun. The topic was, You have been chosen to star in a TV commercial ... what is your favourite TV event and why? 

The first speaker reminisced about the Fall of The Berlin Wall, a major historical event which gave a feeling of hope. He had two topics. What did I learn from listening to a topic impromptu speech containing two stories?

The difficulty with two anecdotes is that you must tie the two subjects together, transition from one to the next confidently and fluently. You must use only the barest pause. A long pause leaves the audience anxious that you have lost your way, or that they are missing the connection between the two subjects. 

Finally you must clearly summarise mentioning both, without being repetitive and leaving your listeners again wondering - what's the connection between these two subjects? You must not merely summarise but find a dramatic, surprising, preferably witty punchline, reflecting both topics. 

The Planned Humorous Speeches

David Jones, always humorous.

Humorous Speech Contest Winner
A speech confronting our fears of terrorism and making us feel comfortable. A man with a big black beard describing how somebody sees him and shouts, 'Terrorist!' So he throws himself on the ground. Then realises that the warning refers to him.
Here's the winner of the Humorous Speech competition holding his trophy. 

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Why Read Aloud Your Slides?

Angela Lansbury (
President Harrovian Speakers 2012; Associate Area Governor at Toastmasters International 2011
Read the slides.
1 I am short and unless I sit in the front row somebody taller sits in front.
2 Read aloud. Some people's minds drift off into worries and shopping lists.
3 The readers might have short sight, be without glasses, have other faulty vision.
4 They might read the words but not know how to pronounce them.
5 It looks as if the presenter is lazy. Like the presenter who left the room with a tape recorder playing his speech.
6 Some people learn by hearing, some by seeing.

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