Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Preserve the peace by telling a lie or three

Tuesday’s meeting was a full house with four guests joining the membership to sample the Toastmasters experience. Setting the tone for the meeting was the lighting-witted Thomas Duthie who kept proceedings light and fun as Toastmaster-for-the-evening.

If Dancing with the Stars can have a double elimination then our club can have a double induction. Louise Solomons, VP of Membership, did the honours and inducted the Algoa Club’s newest members: Angie Kivido and Chenielle Badenhorst.

In a week that saw the teaching profession in the news for all the wrong reasons, educator Alison Immelman, asked those participating in Table Topics to pretend to be difficult parents at a Parent Teacher Evening.

Thomas Duthie picked up the “stand-in” Best Table Topics Shield for his turn as a crusty schoolmaster, with accents of Winston Churchill, extolling the virtues of corporal punishment.

Our speakers for the evening were Reinhardt Botha, Craig Stephenson, Louise Solomons and Antoinette Baatjes.

Reinhardt, a professor of Information Technology, presented his “icebreaker” speech titled: Me, Myself and I, where he revealed the three aspects of his identity: family man, technophile and academic.

Craig presented the second instalment in a series of talks about independent travel. Craig offered suggestions on how a traveller can design their own one-of-a-kind travel itinerary.

Louise wanted to know why the ideals of Freedom Charter, one of which promised that the doors to education would never be closed to those who wanted to learn, have been forgotten.

Louise can never seem to find a library open on a Saturday and during the week many libraries in the Bay Area have to close due to staff shortages. Literacy rates are falling in South Africa and more alarming is that aliteracy rates (can read but uninterested in doing so) are on the up.

With this speech Louise completed the requirements of her Competent Communicator Award.

Louise’s sobering “reality check” was followed by Antoinette’s own irreverent take on reality.

The effortlessly funny Antoinette presented a speech from the Entertaining Speeches Manual. She argued that lying in fact preserves the peace and that we must accept that we all have to lie from time to time so not to court Armageddon.

Coming off the back of Antoinette’s speech was Debbie Stephenson’s appropriately titled Toast-of-the-day: Laughter is the best medicine. Debbie toasted the physical and psychological benefits of laughter.

The Club will meet again on Tuesday, 14 September. In the meantime go out this Friday and support the contestants in the Area Humorous Speech Competition.

Keep laughing and remember to lie, lie, lie! You’re live longer, and according to Antoinette so will everyone else.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The 2010 Algoa Toatmasters Humorous Speech Contest

On Tuesday, 10 August, the Algoa Toastmasters Club held its annual Humorous Speech Contest. It was a cold night and the Club's home, the Westview Sporthall had as much cheer as a Siberian gulag on Christmas morning, but as the eight competing speakers took the floor, the air started to heat up with laughter.

First out of the stalls was educator Rhona Murchie who implored her audience to abandon soap – soap operas that is. Apparently the hyper-real characters of the soapy-verse are making day trips into our reality through the idle minds of hairdressers and impressionable tweens and causing havoc. So protect your minds people. When you hear the following: Like sands through the hourglass – dive for that remote control. Your very sanity is at stake!

Mimi Makapula mined her own extraordinary life for laughs. She took her audience on a trip down memory lane. While there is apparently a limit to how many times you can fold a piece of paper (seven – this writer looked it up), a young Mimi learnt on the school playground that there is no limit to how many times you can divide a cheese and polony sandwich when sufficiently motivated to do so.

Distinguished Toastmaster Tom Horne retired as an engineer eighteen months ago. Since then he has turned his empirical mind to that undiscovered country of womanhood – the kitchen. Tom has learnt to cook. Although to hear Tom describe his boiling of a gammon ham maybe Tom should abandon food preparation and stick to Ford Focuses.

Be-pearled English Department Head, Louise Erasmus, regaled us with an epic journey from her youth - a jaunt across the land that gave the world maple syrup and Celine Dion. Louise unfortunately was joined on her trip across Canada by one Murphy (née Law). Everything that could go wrong did. Louise had to brave an unscrupulous Yellow Cab driver in New York, the French-speaking Québécois, cold showers in Toronto (in November!) and being turned out of a car outside Banff because she was South African (this was 1987 after all). But Canada couldn't bust Louise. She was and still is made of sterner stuff than most. She even survived crossing Canada on a transcontinental Greyhound bus.

Attorney Nicholas Mitchell has three children, with number four currently in development. Nicholas reminisced about the joys and pains of parenthood. The pain must be something. Nicholas sported a grimace like he was passing a kidney stone. From "out-the-mouths-of-babes" moments like his young son offering to buy his father a machine to make him thin, to the daily exercise in futility that is breakfast and getting ready for school, Nicholas is willing to bear it all for the joy that his children bring him.

The Club's newest member Reinhardt Botha professed his official and unofficial job description as a professor of Information Technology. Officially his job is all bytes and binary code. From time to time his students confuse professor with life coach. One day he is dispensing life-changing career advice, the next a female student is sitting opposite him asking whether she should get married or not.

Michael Warren was out to warn us about a nefarious cult – no we're not talking about Scientologists here, but SMPs – "Smug Married People". As a happily single gent Michael will have none of the underhanded tactics employed by the "marrieds" to rework his successful solo act as a duet. Michael is not ready to swallow the matrimonial hook, line and sinker and lose his "I-ness to become a We".

Finally Mark Barry was out to scrutinise the advertising industry. Where once ads were used to remind, inform and persuade consumers, today they're head scratches. What exactly does a boxer dog with porcelain dental veneers have to do with selling Toyotas? Wimpy is now using dancing men in their PJs to sell breakfasts and apparently all you have to do to entertain your kids on the weekend is to take them to KFC. Barry surmised that advertising has just become a new form of entertainment.

After the scores were tallied, Nicholas was announced as the winner. Michael came a very close second and Mark rounded out the top three. Nicholas will now go onto to represent the Club at the Area Humorous Speech Competition on Friday 27 August. Congratulations to all the speakers. Special mention must be made of Rhona, Mimi and Reinhardt for holding their noses and just jumping right into this their first speech competition.

Finally thanks must go to the Club's VP of Education, Colleen Love, who single-handily organised the event.

The next Club meeting is 24 August. Watch your inboxes for a programme.