“Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” Benjamin Disraeli
As the summer holidays arrived for the pupils of Leicester’s schools we gathered again to focus on a theme that is prominent in many people’s minds at the moment: travel. Ironically it might be the holidaying antics of some of our members which led to a smaller congregation than usual on this blustery July morning. Luckily those present compensated for this with a commendable degree of enthusiasm and loud singing. Luckily volume was, as usual, more important than tunefulness!
With the lofty rafters of Secular Hall still echoing the strains of “Ticket to Ride” and “These Boots Are Made For Walking” we were treated to a humorous reading from Bill Bryson’s “Notes on a Small Island” by Vicky. This reminded us of the often bewildering yet ultimately welcoming aspects of the UK which many from the wider world are confronted with each year. Sadly, some are driven to desperate lengths to experience this, and the recent refugee crisis in Europe led us to decide to collect a donation for the charity Refugee Action this month.
Gush was happily back in attendance this month, along with his wife Amarjeet and son Shantanu, who did a fantastic job leading the singing throughout the morning. His ability to remain unfazed by Gush’s exemplary “dad dancing” was an inspiration to us all. Alex shared some of his own family problems with the congregation in the “doing his best” slot, and despite his sometimes difficult experiences with his siblings he remained determined to improve relations with them.
But the star attraction was the speaker, who this month was drawn from our own congregation. Michael Gerard gave us all a fascinating insight into life in Columbia, including his dismay at the poor weather in Bogota to his delight in discovering the joy of tea made from coca leaves. Sadly this apparently very refreshing drink is unlikely to slip through the stringent drug controls of the Conservative government anytime soon! But we should be thankful we’re not living under the kind of political unrest that Michael described from his time in Columbia, with paramilitary groups, amoral multinational corporations and corrupt politicians creating a toxic climate where trade union leaders can have a shorter life span than mayflies.
The assembly concluded with a tournament of “Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock” (it’s rock paper scissors, Jim, but not as we know it) which, after a nail biting final with Amarjeet saw Vicky crowned champion. And as Noel and Allan educated the group about China’s exploration of the world in the 15th century (it wasn’t interesting enough for them to colonise) the group settled down to another lunch and chin-wag. This time this was kindly provided by Noel, Vicky and Alex (the lunch that is – everyone brought their own chins).
Bring on August, which will boast not just our next Assembly on the 9th but a trip to Bletchley Park on the 2nd and a picnic in Bradgate Park on the bank holiday weekend!