Saturday, April 25, 2015


Speeches for ANZAC Day 25 April

Today for Anzac Day the Australian flags and New Zealand flags have been flying all over the English speaking world, certainly in London, England, as well as Canada (whose soldiers were also at Gallipoli), various islands, and of course in Australia and New Zealand.

The short quotation we recall easily is 'for your tomorrow they gave their today'. But even more relevant to Gallipoli is the quotation from the speech given there by the Turkish leader, Kemal Ataturk, a masterpiece of the rhetoric of reconciliation.

Memorials to the Australian and New Zealand forces and Canadian forces include one to Australian forces at Hyde Park Corner in London, at Gallipoli in Turkey, in northern France, and in Australia and New Zealand including Canberra.
ANZAC - Australian and New Zealand Army Corps

See more on

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Friday, April 24, 2015


Additions To Funeral Speech

I sent the first draft of my funeral speech to Gil at HOD Toastmasters, a very experienced speaker. She said that I should not just say that Pearl was happy, but give concrete evidence, for example that she always smiled, or told me that she was happy.

After the funeral, I carried the printed version of my funeral speech to show to those unable to attend.  I was hoping to find corroboration of what I had said, or further facts and insights.

Pearl had told me that she used to touch her toes. I was not sure whether she had shown me once, or whether I had imagined it.

Sharon, a manager of Heath House, care home, said of Pearl:

"When she first came in she used to show us how she could touch her toes - and all her exercises."

There was my evidence.

Sharon read what I had said about Pearl not drinking except for a glass of sherry. Sharon said,

"She used to have a sherry at the Blue Check restaurant (where residents would have an outing for lunch on Wednesdays). She also had a sherry here. (At Christmas parties)."

"She told us about her (late) husband David. She said he was a good man. And that he'd been a hairdresser, and barber. She remembered a lot about the past. She answered the questions in quizzes.

"Yes, she loved music. She liked the tambourine you shake with your hand inside it and it lights up in time with the music. As soon as she heard music she lit up. She made residents happy with her singing.

"The turning point was her last fall. She had two falls in quick succession. But she'd recovered from her earlier stay in hospital. She was strong. She was a fighter.

"She was always talking about Anthony, who used to come and take her out on Saturdays in his car. At first I thought he must be her son. Then I realised he was her grandson.

Pearl's son Trevor said: "When she lived over the road at Home Cedars she had started refusing to mix with the other ladies downstairs. (She became reclusive.) Then after she moved into Heath House where she knew nobody she was really keen to see her old friends and invite them over."

I mentioned, "Pearl kept the photo of her late sister Daphne in her room. Pearl stayed friends with Daphne's widowed husband's second wife, Ruth, the step-mother of her nieces. Ruth, Pearl's sister in law, a dark-haired lady, used to visit Pearl here."

Sharon remembered, "Yes, I remember Ruth coming to visit Pearl."

I said, "Ruth had worked at a hospital. That's where she met her husband."

Trevor explained: "Ken was an orderly at Slough hospital, like Ruth. He just worked in the hospital, never travelled overseas by plane. He'd been a rear-gunner in the war (WWII). Rear gunners were at the back of the plane and enemy aircraft pilots would approach from the behind and shoot at them at the back of the plane. Rear-gunners had a life expectancy of two weeks."

Another member of staff said goodbye to Sharon and as she left, patted Sharon's arm. I had noticed how chatty and cheerful and tactile all the staff are. I suppose you have to be that type, ready to help the elderly to walk along the corridor, take their arms, help them out of their wing armchairs, back into high dining chairs, or into their beds, reassure them.

Pearl had been in the Nightingales care home for nine years.


On the way home we discussed where we would like to end our days, You could sell your home and holiday on cruise ships for ten years, with all the food, cleaning, travel, company, drinks between meals, and doctor and hospital on board. Even get buried at sea. Or live in a hotel.

You have to be very patient to deal with people who need to be persuaded to come to the table to eat, and go to bed. Who keep repeating the same questions. Who can't remember you name. Compared to some of the inmates who ended up shouting non-stop, sat sullenly, or did nothing but hug a doll, Pearl with her smile, dancing and singing must have been a delight, relatively speaking. I am sure they are genuine when they say they will miss her. Sharon sighed and said she 'lost' four people last weekend, in addition to the six between Christmas and the Monday when Pearl died. But there's a waiting list, the rooms will soon be filled again, and for the staff at Heath House the daily duties of caring for those who need care will go on.

If you had to go into a care home, judging by the war they cared for Pearl, I would recommend Heath House.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Funeral Speech For Pearl

This is the draft of the speech. I delivered it without the alliterative title, and dropped the parts now in brackets.

When I stood up to speak, I was initially disconcerted by the fact that the previous speaker had started his speech with the same comment. So I reiterated by beginning, 'As x mentioned earlier ...'

In fact, this worked rather well, tying together the two speeches.

(Pearl Funeral Speech - Pearl was Our ‘Pearl’, Practical and Popular
by Angela)

Pearl had a long happy life, making family and friends happy.
The only reason there aren’t more people here today is that Pearl outlived most of her generation.
Pearl lived 98 years, a very long, happy life. 

Why did she live so long?
She didn’t need to follow a health food diet because she cooked family meals from fresh ingredients.

She didn’t need to exercise in a gym because she touched her toes every morning. She had worked standing up serving in shops such as her dress shop and hairdressers, after she retired a local manager phoned and begged her to go back to work part-time. And after retiring finally she continued to meet the other girls for tea .

(SUMMARY : I’m going to tell you about her early family life, her grandparents, mother, sister, wartime wedding, and happy times at Heath House.)

Early life
Pearl was born in 1916, in the middle of The Great War, but, she said, in ‘the no complaints department’. She spent her schooldays happily in the Roaring Twenties. At school she was not academic but she had elocution lessons so she learned to speak well. At home, the house had gas lights and Pearl remember looking up at electric lights being installed, wires coming through the ceiling.

Pearl’s late paternal grandfather had worked for the Singer sewing machine family and when he died in 1907, nine years before Pearl’s birth the Singer sewing machine factory sent a portrait of her grandfather, with the Singer insignia below. The Singer picture hung on the wall during her childhood. (Widowed paternal granny Julia sewed Pearl a dress with matching pants.) No surprise that Pearl grew up a keen sewer, on machines and by hand. She made her first dress at 12, instructed by her grandmother, and at 18 made all her own clothes. Pearl serving in her mother’s shop. Pearl said, “I could re-cut a dress to fit people, make it shorter, hem it. There’s nothing I haven’t done.” 

Daughter In The Thirties.
Pearl was a good daughter, had her widowed father, Bob, living with her for his later years as Steven and Trevor recall. Pearl told us she helped in her mother’s shop selling dresses and matching hats Kilburn High Road (The dress making workroom was at the back of the shop, serving and selling.) She could add and subtract and give the right change in her head without a calculator or even pencil and paper. To relax on the afternoon off, Pearl loved going out to tea to a tea-shop or grand hotel with her mother. (wth three tiers of cakes).

Sister, Aunty - The Thirties
In the 1920s and 1930s and war years Pearl was a devoted sister to Daphne, six years younger.  They visited their maternal grandfather, Nathan, ancestor of both Trevor and myself, as we are second cousins. Pearl’s grandpa Nathan (died 1926 when she was ten) employed a driver for the horse and carriage. Nathan, Pearl said, was ‘a very comfortable man’.

The Forties & WWII
When Pearl spoke of wartime (WWII) she was brief about problems, and concentrated on the jolly parts. 

In WWII Pearl’s parents moved to Slough. Pearl’s entrepreneurial mother Sally immediately found an East End source of hard to find much needed pots and pans to sell. She gave a free set of new pans to each the neighbouring shops, those either side, one of whom was a greengrocer, and the one opposite, who was a butcher. During the war, when everybody was on rationing, Pearl said, 'we were never short of food. (We never wanted for anything!)'

When evacuated, living in Slough, Pearl went out dancing and met David, her handsome husband-to-be who was in the army.  David  who was a hairdresser who cut hair for the (other men and) officers (for privileges). 

She enthused about the three tier ice cream cake at her wartime wedding in 1940. . 
Postwar when both Pearl and her younger sister Daphne were married, Pearl, was a doting auntie to Daphne’s two daughters,  Elizabeth here today.

WWII She was a good mother, in effect a single mother
Her oldest son, Stephen was born whilst Pearl’s husband David was away in Egypt in WWII. After the war ended she had a miscarriage so she was very pleased with the arrival of Trevor, an energetic younger brother for studious Stephen.

Pearl Reconciled Family
Pearl was first cousin to my mother Netta who she’d played with for the last time when Nathan’s will was read. (After grandfather’s death, and a fall-out over the will, Pearl’s mother, and my mother’s father, did not meet or speak again.) 

In later life, Pearl and her cousin Netta met again, reuniting the family and introduced their single children, which is why Trevor and I are here, with our son, Pearl’s grandson, Anthony.

Pearl was Practical  
After Trevor and I got engaged in 1975, in addition to sewing Pearl did crochet, so she made me a blue crochet bikini. She hand-knitted little jackets for grandchildren. 

Ever practical, she cooked wonderful blackberry and apple crumble from our garden apples and berries growing wild which her husband David picked from the garden, woods and hedgerows. (When I went through her box of broken necklaces I found she had linked the broken loops with a safety pin. I once phoned and asked what to do with loops hanging down the front of a jersey. Should I cut them. No, she said, take a needle and thread the loop through to the back.) 

Pearl was Proud
She was very proud of her older son Stephen becoming a Professor and Sociology, of her younger son Trevor becoming a lecturer in statistics, her grand-daughter Tali on TV, her grandson Dani, and his wife Ayala whose award winning film was shown at Pearl’s 90th birthday party.

(She kept in touch with our French au pair girl, Caroline Jouy, Mention, and visited France, them taking gifts of English books.) 

Pearl was full of Praise
(Pearl was a great saleswoman, running the dress shop in South Oxhey. She chatted up customers and altered clothes to fit them. 
She told me, ‘If you want to run a shop, you have to chat, and smile, and be nice to everybody’.)

Years later she was still chatty, enquiring, complimentary,ingratiating herself and making friends everywhere, the hotel, the hospital.
When she went to a day centre, she was asked to show the others how to thread a sewing machine and use it.

She would introduce the staff at Heath House, when she forgot names she would grin and grab the arm of Sharon, the manager of Heath House, enthusing, ‘this is my friend’. (Pearl would compliment me on my clothes, shoes, bag or hat.) She welcomed visitors, such as grandson Anthony. She always asked what work he was doing. She didn’t understand the answer, Search Engine Optimisation - most people don’t - but she always asked.

In the 1980, when David had dementia, he asked who is that lovely lady who visits me every day?

 When he was told, ‘That’s your wife,’ he smiled, ‘Aren’t I lucky!’

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Dress Code For Funerals - Black or Colours?

On a Friday in April 2015 I went to a funeral in a Catholic Church where the dress code was all black. I was the only sore thumb wearing pink and plum in a sea of black.

Fortunately both my dress and long jacket were reversible. I looked down at my jacket which had a black lining. To my amazement, when I reversed it, I found that it had square patch pockets on the inside, designed to be worn either way.

The jacket to black, so far so good. I did a change in the pew.

The dress reversed from pink to rust had to wait until I got to the ladies at the reception. The venue had only one cubicle, so I created a small queue with the delay. I was then able to hide the upper half of the plum skirt by putting my black half slip on top.

I also had a reversible hat, red and black.

The moral is, wear reversible clothes to a funeral.

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Funeral Speech Planning (what we did for Pearl)

Yesterday I gave a speech at my mother-in-law's funeral. I thought it would be useful to both me and you to write down immediately afterwards the successful parts and suggest any changes which could be made.

We had three speeches at the funeral,
a) one as an introduction by the official conducting the ceremony,
b) a second by the deceased's older son,
c) the third by me (the deceased's daughter-in-law, a speaker trained in Toastmasters International speakers' clubs).

The official asked us to send him our speeches:
a) So he could be sure we had prepared.
b) So he could be sure to allow the right amount of time for each speech.
c) So he had a duplicate in case we forgot to bring it.
d) So he could take over (with a typed copy he could read) if the speechmaker was overcome with either emotion or nerves.

He had met us in a coffee shop to discuss what we would say. We had a thirty minute slot at the crematorium. the various crematoriums allow different times. Fifteen minutes or half an hour. You can have double time if you pay extra (and if the bookings that day allow it). We opted for half an hour rather than fifteen minutes since somebody always arrives late and they could then miss the entire event or delay it.

He sent us his schedule for the half hour. We had selected opening music and ending music. You can have serious organ or orchestral music and a dress code of black.

We ended up with two main speeches of five minutes. We had a tiny amount of leeway. You can play the ending music longer, or cut it short. I think the minute's silence is unnecessary.

My speech draft opened: 'The only reason there aren't more people here is that Pearl lived to 98 and outlived everybody.' First revision added on the end of the sentence 'of her generation'. Second revision changed it to 'One reason ..., ' 'the other is that her successful family are now living all over the world - and we have received messages of condolence from x and y.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


The Ten Sins of A Speaker

1 Arrive early and busy yourself with your props, ignoring and rejecting your host and the first people to arrive.

2 Arrive late, looking flustered. Get even more flustered when other latecomers arrive. Instead greet them warmly - your audience is growing.

3 Keep apologising. Apologies are depressing. As Disraeli said, Never explain; never apologise.

4 Glower because of the small numbers, and postpone or cancel on the grounds that it is not worthwhile to speak to those who want to hear you. More important that you should not 'waste your time', never mind that they have wasted their time trying to fix a date or cancelling other engagements and plans to see the speaker.

5 Promoting a book but not having it to sell. Relying on the publisher to send the book to the venue. Always have one book that people can look at, even if it's a proof copy, and two copies to sell.(If you have one copy, if somebody buys it a second person is peeved.

6 Using jargon nobody understands.

7 Failing to take into account the needs for a break for toilet and food.

8 Forgetting to thank the organiser.

9 Forgetting to say how much you have enjoyed your welcoming audience, the venue, the weather, all the good things which will make them happy about their day and happy to share your happiness.

10 Not thinking of taking the opportunity to say how much you enjoyed talking to them and how you would be willing to come back again, sooner or later.

13 Not giving your name, address and contact details. If they are on every handout, you can get your message out. Forgetting to have a business card marked with the name, your real name, other than the pen name, in which you want any cheque sent.

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Friday, April 10, 2015


Be Prepared with "Quotations" - the speech I gave

Dale Carnegie, the author of How To Win Friends And Influence People, said, There are three speeches, the one you prepared, the one you gave, and the one you wish you had given. 

The speech I prepared was called Be prepared with Quotations. Somehow the publicity simply listed Quotations as the title. The organiser had elderly parents and he was in the midst of moving house so the parents could move in - therefore he had more important things to worry about than my speech.

He offered to postpone my speech to another date. However, I had agreed to give the speech, had spent a week researching and worrying, had blocked the hall of my home with props, and wanted to go ahead whilst the subject was still in my mind and the props were to hand. So I spoke to a cosy, small audience. Another quote 'springs to mind': Strangers are only friends you haven't yet me.

As I left the house on the way to my speech venue I had picked fresh daffodils to illustrate Wordsworth's poem about daffodils. As a precaution, the previous day I'd already packed five daffodils in a plastic bag in my props suitcase. If I forgot or was in too much of a hurry to pick fresh flowers, I could present wilted or dried flowers. But I had just a moment to grab fresh flowers which I put on the venue table, where the flowers served as memory aid for me and a visual aid for the audience.

Preparing The Room
I arrived early. Vital. Even so, I was so busy setting up my props that I committed the dreadful speaker's first sin, rejecting conversation with the welcoming host or first person to arrive in favour of busying myself unpacking props, looking for the easel, moving the easel. However, the first arrival obligingly helped me so we had a conversation, although entirely practical, consisting of discussing the room layout.

Talking to people before starting the speech is a chance to develop rapport, so the audience is ready to listen, already listening, you as speaker feel confident speaking to them, as you are already speaking to one of them, just have to keep looking at the others to be sure they feel included.

The Start
The speech starting time was undefined because the person due to introduce me was delayed on the train. So I began by saying who I was, the speaker, an author - spread my books on the table in front of me, one book raised vertically on a display stand.

Hats and Opening Lines
I wore a witches hat, which was to identify me as the performing speaker. My hat also remind me of my opening line, When Shall We Three Meet again (cue to aside on the weather) in thunder lightning or in rain. On previous occasions I'd worn a hat or carried a prop and the audience had been distracted and puzzled the whole speech waiting for me to use or explain the hats, which on one occasion I never used.

 However,  the witch's hat led to confusion, because one lady thought my entire talk would be about witches and she did free association and started a discussion about witches and everything she knew on the subject. I tried to remind her, then the others, that my talk was on quotations, so I would have a quotation on witches. Since I was wearing the hat, I'd have been better off with two or three quotations on witches, otherwise by revealing the Three Witches, I'd given away my opening line.

As late as the day before or morning before I decided that as we were meeting in Harrow, even though the audience might not all be from Harrow I could pick characters from Harrow.

Harrow Characters and Quotations
As your train passes through Harrow you see the spire of the church where Byron used to sit reading and writing, and where his daughter is buried.

If you go to Harrow school you will see the statue of Queen Elizabeth on the wall. She is the lady who assured everybody, 'I have a bath once a year, whether I need it or not.'

I'd previously talked about and written about characters from Harrow:
Harrow School pupil, Winston Churchill (Harrow School) - lots of quotations from Churchill:
"If you are doing the quiz and don't get all the answers right on first reading, remember Churchill's words:
Never, never, never give up. 
He told his wartime audiences:
have nothing to bring you but blood, sweat and tears.  
Fortunately we are now enjoying peacetime, and I have for your entertainment, information and amusement.
This is not the beginning of the end. (I could place this is appropriately.)

Byron (must ensure I remember which are Byron which are Shelley. Need card index cards. Or a mind map - but mind maps on an A4 sheet are small for quotations.
Roger Bannister - I have a quotation, but it's long.
I like to keep my agenda/speech on a small red clipboard. The clipboard looks official and stops the flimsy paper shaking in nervous hands or floating or tumbling to the floor.

A simple sheet can easily get lost under a pile of papers. A coloured clipboard is easier to notice and keep on the top of the pile.

Let's travel around England and up to Scotland
If you rainbow colour the sections with highlighter it's easier to find where you are on the page. For example, I might have a black outline in felt tip around the witches hat quotation, a yellow highlighter around or through the Wandered Lonely as a cloud daffodil quotation. Or blue around the line on the cloud, yellow around the line on daffodils. Wordsworth lived in the Lake District. a remote area. Before the age of cars, trains brought tourists and carried letters.

Night Mail
WH Auden was commissioned to write about the Night Mail which took trains overnight anywhere in the country, to deliver first class post the next day.

Link - black as night - the night mail. This is the night mail crossing the boarder, bringing the cheque and the postal order ... If I were sitting in a circle with a group, and had no clipboard, I would pass the poem to somebody in the audience to read. That involves the audience, gets a variety of people speaking and gives me a break to think about my next quotation r reach for my next prop.

Coming back to this area, who has heard of Anne Frank? (Everybody raised hands.) And how many of you know of her connections with this area? 9To my surprise nobody. They don't live in the area so they don't read the local papers.

Anne Frank has connections with Edgware, where I lived as a child. I didn't know, but when I was living in post-war Edgware in the Fifties and Sixties, reading The Diary of Anne Frank, her father was living with his second wife somewhere in Edgware. His name and location wee a secret. He had good reasons for wanting to stay hidden, having spent months in hiding in Amsterdam and having lost his wife and both daughters int he war.

He married a lady who had lost her husband in the war in similar circumstances. When I first read about this I thought it was a coincidence. It wasn't. I later learned that for several days, week, months, after the war ended, people would go to the offices of the Red Cross looking at lists of names of people who had returned and those who were confirmed to have died. So the people who went looking for their families would go there every month, or every week, or every day, and see the same people, and when another person got good news, would be delighted for them, and when they got bad news, would sympathise. So Mr Frank had known this lady for a long time when they eventually decided to marry.

The second Anne Frank connection is that Mr Frank's wife had a daughter, giving him a replacement wife and daughter, and after her stepfather, Mr Frank died, at the end of her life, this lady, Eva Floss has written a book about her life and her mother and stepfather.

Finally we come to the quotation from Anne Frank, which is on the wall of the council Chamber in Harrow Civic Centre.

How wonderful it is that we need not wait a single moment to change the world.
I took a picture of this to show you when I was invited to tour the Civic Centre, by the mayor, who came to present prizes at Harrovians' Speakers' Club.

Whenever I think about the Civic Centre or drive past it (sometimes over a pothole), (Laughter) I think of Anne Frank's saying and hope the Council are working at improving our world. (Laughter)


Thursday, April 09, 2015


Quotations - Be Prepared With Props

Prepared With Props
I was well prepared for my speech on Quotations: Be Prepared. I had the props:

Copies of the two books I wanted to sell;
Quick Quotations;
Who Said What When;

A big book to display the poem The Night Mail;
More than 20 copies of a handout Quiz on Quotations, including four copies in large print for people who had forgotten their reading glasses.

A black folding witch's hat (saved from Hallowe'en, bought in a supermarket);
Four daffodils.
A small carry-on pull-along suitcase containing my books.
A large tote bag containing the oversize poetry book.
Moral/Lesson: Don't just put your props near the front door or in a special place. Plan and find a container large enough to carry everything. Place the container alongside or underneath. Don't place all the props inside the container the week before and then be unable to find the props on the day because you have so many tote bags and suitcases you cannot identify the place where you have stored the props.

A book display Z shape stand.
Address card box which unfolds diagonally to display cards.
Make sure you have a display stand the right size for the books, and enough cards, with up to date phone numbers, to fill the box. I discovered I had address card boxes which become display stands.

A jacket with a pen, address cards, mobile phone for photos.
My handbag.
Moral/lesson: make sure you have two pens and two pencils in a jacket pocket. Keep extra address cards in your right hand pocket so that after you've packed up the display into your suitcase you can quickly give your details to somebody wants your address at the last minute, eg to email you or post items to you. Especially useful if you or the other person has to leave quickly to catch a lift/bus group going home.

The last thing I did was stick an address sticker on everything: my books, display stand, even an umbrella. I should have had school name tags in my hat and coat.

I packed up my goods. I had a suitcase, a large tote bag and a handbag. I was driven to the venue and helped up the stairs.

Prepare For Screens/Large Easy-to read displays
I had a large print, large size Collins book with the words of This Is The Night Mail. I was hoping to lean it on the ledge of a display board.

The Harrow Arts Centre Kenton room upstairs had a pull-down huge white screen on the wall, no ledge. Also an easel with a small ledge, the whiteboard already filled with blue writing from a previous talk. Two large pens, one blue, were on the ledge underneath. However, there was no eraser, so I could not use the board. Moral/Lesson: take both wipe-off pens and an eraser.

Whilst we waited for the club convenor and latecomers I handed out the Quotes Quiz.

Question x asked who said, 'All men are created equal'.

A member of the audience protested, 'All mean are not created equal! They just think they are. Ask any woman.' Later she said, 'I'm from "oop north" - we tell it how it is!'

I started with the quiz.

Tea-time. I drink coffee. None available. So I had milk, which I have at tea-time, on doctor's orders. (When I told a doctor I was having trouble sleeping, woke in the night and could not get back to sleep, he told me to reduce my coffee intake to two cups, with breakfast and for elevenses. have one more cup of decaff coffee, not after noon, water or milk for tea-time.) Somebody passed around miniature easter Eggs. Very good for giving the speaker a shot of energy.

Sugar is artificial, instant energy. Although it has the advantage of giving you an instant spike of energy, it can give you a sugar hangover/depression/exhaustion later. Bread, cakes, anything with flour, is slow-release energy. (In theory you could take a chocolate bar, or apple in your pocket, and if you want to eat it secretly, have a snack hidden in the toilet, or your car. I prefer not to leave the room, in case I come back late, or get lost, or get talking to somebody in the 'rest room'.

During the break one lady came to talk to me and look at the books.

After tea we finished the quiz.

The thanker said it was the best talk they'd had in two years.

Packing up took ten minutes. I nearly left behind my big book on the easel. Luckily I looked around the room before leaving.

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