Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Travel and Team Games

It was with no small sense of nostalgia that we gathered last night, because it was our last meeting under the inspirational leadership of the incumbent committee. It seems that extreme weather follows us: last time we met it was a dark and stormy night; last night we basked in unseasonably balmy temperatures – as if summer is beckoning!

Sergeant-at-Arms, Marianah, greeted us as usual in her enthusiastic manner.
We started our meeting under the capable guidance of our doughty Glenis, who pointed out that she was indeed outgoing – in both senses of the word!!

As usual, we had several guests among our number, thanks in no small part to the outgoing VP for membership, Louise Solomons, and her hardworking helpers:
Shariefa Mohammed, Sister Lucia and Theo Swart. Lee Schultz and Tanja Gauss returned. They have indicated that they plan to join – good news indeed.

Our Toastmaster was the always-organised and entertaining Louise Erasmus. As her theme was the way people enjoy holidays around the world. Did you know that it was only around the 17th century (and even later in America) that people even had holidays to enjoy? She asked each role player about their favourite holiday destination.

“A perpetual holiday is the best definition of hell” – GB Shaw.

Methinks GB should have exchanged words with Antoinette!

Antoinette (our timekeeper for the evening) would love to go to Mauritius – sand, sea and sun – pass the hat around to sponsor her trip there! She advised that timing is extremely important if you want to be an effective speaker. If you don’t believe that, we should just think of the overlong sermon in church on Sunday or the staff meeting on Monday!

Mimi (um and ah counter) longs to visit Mpumalanga. I’m sure we all agree that there are not many sights that could rival God’s Window.

Marianah’s holiday spots would all be chosen for their proximity to her seven grandchildren, and include the Barrier Reef in Australia.

Roger Ah Kun was our Table Topics Master for the evening, and chose the theme of sports – why we love or hate them, or why we think it is a stupid game!
From karate to baseball, our speakers outdid themselves with the onomatopoeic sound effects of the various sports – not to mention the mime effects. Really, our speakers should be on the stage, winning Tony awards!
Good sports indeed!
As always, thanks to the indefatigable Tom Horne, our programme was a variety of CC and AC speeches.

• Peter Peters wants to rub shoulders with the rich and famous in Monaco. In his CC2 (organise your speech) entitled “Good intentions gone wobbly” he spoke about the sanctity of work and the rewards of labour, and the culture of self-entitlement that has infiltrated all aspects of our society.
• Angie Kivido wants to go to the Antarctic – she should make friends with our own Quinton Jacobs. She did her CC4 (How to Say it) on the topic “My Nemesis” – about the Amatola hiking trail . Having attempted the trail twice before, it was Third Time Lucky! The trail comprises 100km in 6 days, including the Hogsback!! Beautifully picturesque language included her “despondent yet hopeful” mood, and “The backpack was not lighter, but [she] was floating on air!”
• Chenielle Badenhorst wants to go to Mozambique. She did her CC6 (vocal variety) about “The tale of two cords”? After entertaining us with some highly dramatic vocal variety she gave us some good advice to end with: If all else fails, a warm toddy of whisky and honey will always soothe the tired vocal cords.
• Alison Immelman wants to spend more and more time in the British Isles. She also did her CC6 on light-hearted moments in the teaching of Shakespeare (“Give us a light, ho!”). The line comes from Macbeth where Banquo is shouting for help in the forest – not, as many teenagers believe, calling on the local street worker in ghetto speak!
• Quinton Jacobs is well on his way with the advanced communicator programme. He did his AC13, entitled “Let’s get personal”, a storytelling project. He regaled us with the story of the lucky (or unlucky – depending on your pt of view!) expectant mother and her twins (not with child, but with children – one of which was our own Quinton!). In keeping with the night’s theme he ended his speech with the inspiring quote: “True happiness is going wherever you want with whomever you want”.

The toast of the day was delivered by Deborah Stephenson. Using some charming anecdotes about her grandchildren, she proposed a toast to Our Children who always give us a fresh perspective on even painful events.

We are extremely lucky in Algoa to have dedicated and expert senior members to offer evaluations on the prepared speeches.
1. Mark Barry wants to go to Peru, especially to see Machu Picchu
2. Denise Pudney would like to be where there is no cell phone contact so that she can enjoy time with her children. Louise admitted that since this would have to be in the Bundu, she would certainly choose to be left behind! Denise reminded us that we should tell a story as if we were telling it to our friends.
3. Louise Solomons wants to go to the Victoria Falls.
4. Alan Hunter has an historical cottage in Port Alfred with a view of the coast. He has been renovating it for the last fifteen years, and his ideal holiday would be to have the time to do more of the same.
5. Ricky Woods yearns to visit London in the summer! I’m sure one of the reasons is to experience those “clouds of golden daffodils”! Or is it the strawberries and champagne at Wimbledon

To close the evening, the General Evaluation was undertaken by newly-inducted president, Colleen Love. As ever, she was warmly encouraging and motivational while gently censuring where it was needed.
She reminded us of the motto for the new year: “The courage to conquer” – which was certainly well illustrated by Angie in her speech.
She also wished our travellers well: Glenis is going to spend a month in the UK with her daughter, Louise E is off to Mauritius, and Ricky is travelling to Greece with her younger son!! Lucky peeps!

Glenis fittingly had the last word to close off her last meeting as the current president.

Awards were made for the Best Table Topic (to Mark Barry who regaled us with a creative view of lawn bowls) and the Top Toastie award could not have been more appropriately bestowed than on our outgoing pres, Glenis.

So ended another congenial meeting of our wonderful club. Can’t wait for the next!

“Laughter is an instant holiday”

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Night at the Opera - 24 May 2011

The meeting of 24 May was a theatrical production of note (pardon the pun!) Our Toastmaster, Chenielle Jefferies-Badenhorst assured those of us who have never been behind-the-scenes (or in front of them, for that matter) at an Opera performance, that there are similarities with a Toastmasters meeting. Both are events which entertain and communicate. Likening the Sergeant-at-arms to the Stage Manager, she said that it is Marianah’s duty to set up the stage with sets and props. The President would be the Intendant, or Head of Opera. Sounds very grand! She also mentioned that it is the Intendant’s duty to plan, finance and produce the production. No wonder I’m so poor!

The members of the media, or critics, were the Timekeeper, Angie Kivido from Time Magazine, Um & Ah counter (from Vanity Fair) was Leann Roos, and the Grammarian from Oxbridge Weekly was Alison Immelman. The Chorus Master, whose job it was to do warm-up vocal exercises was Deborah Stephenson, who was also auditioning for the part of “Best Table Topics Speaker” (also known as “Get one over Michael Warren and watch out for Tom Horne). Because of our limited time we had just nine Table Topics speakers and the one who got the part was Birthday Girl, Marlene van Wyk. She, in turn, awarded the Top Toastie Award to the other Birthday Girl, Placxedes, for her meticulous handling of our club’s finances.

After the Overture, the Conductor (a.k.a Toastmaster) with impeccable sense of timing, led the first soloist, mezzo soprano, Mimi Makupula, who sang a well-known aria from the Competent Communicator manual, No. 10 “Inspire your audience”. And that she certainly did, with a wonderful rendition of “Roadblocks to self-love”. The second aria was performed by Mark Barry, who sang the tenor solo from the same manual, “Fitter, fitter, fittest!” We were all so moved by his performance that we resolved then and there to join/go back to the gym!
The road to hell …..

The Prima Donna (experienced lead soloist with gravitas) then took the stage and gave us a delightfully comedic soprano solo, “Eether, either, neether, neither” – a somewhat biased look at the differences between men and women. After the recess the Toast of the Day “Walk the Talk” was proposed by Colleen Love and evaluations were given by Antoinette Baatjes, Nicholas Mitchell and Ricky Woods respectively. The General Evaluation by Louise Erasmus was the Final Act of a most enjoyable meeting. Before the curtain came down the Fat Lady (me) warbled an invitation to all to stay for the Annual General Meeting.

The AGM took its usual format – minutes were read, reports were tabled and the new executive committee was elected en bloc. They are: President: Colleen Love; VP Education: Quinton Jacobs; VP Membership: Marianah Lourens; VP Public Relations: Alison Immelman; Treasurer: Placxedes Ndhlovu; Secretary: Leann Roos, Sergeant-at-arms: Mimi Makupula and Programme Organiser: Tom Horne. CONGRATULATIONS AND BEST WISHES TO ALL OF YOU! Thank you for your willingness to serve our club.

I congratulate Mimi and Mark on their Competent Communicator status, and Marianah on achieving her Advanced Communicator Bronze and her Advanced Leader Bronze awards. If we can sign up just one more member before 30 June, we will have completed 9 of the 10 points for the Distinguished Club Programme, which will mean getting President’s Distinguished status for the second year in a row! Well done, everyone!

Have you let Colleen know whether you will be attending the Installation Dinner on 10 June? If not, you’d better do it today because space is limited! I would just like to inform you that the Installation Dinner is usually held right at the end of June or early July. Last year it was early because the Jubilee and this year it is early because I am going overseas on 16 July. The new President should take over as soon as she has been installed, but because we are holding the dinner so early it is Colleen’s wish that I should officiate at the meeting of 14 July and she will take over after that.


Doing it Differently - 10 May 2011

Despite the chill in the air, the atmosphere was cheerful and convivial as we gathered in the Caritas Centre once again.

We were delighted that Jason George chose to visit us again, and also welcomed Nolitha Gowana as a guest. This was followed by the induction of Belita von Steiger as a club member.

Placxedes Ndhlovu and Marlene van Wyk received wishes for a happy birthday on 24 May!

President Glenis reminded everyone of our AGM on 24 May, and that nominations were still open for our executive in 2011/2012. Another date to remember is our Installation Dinner on 10 June at The Victorian in Union Road, Walmer. This promises to be an entertaining evening.

Speakers and role-bearers were reminded to complete their record of assignments at the back of the CC or CL manual, and to give them to our VP Ed, Colleen, to sign.

Our Toastmaster for the evening, Tom Horne, took us smoothly through the evening. Topicmaster Alison Immelman chose “Doing it differently” as her theme, and promptly did just exactly that, by starting the Table Topics session with the President! Members were asked to explain how they would do everyday tasks, such as walking the dog, differently. The winner of the Best Table Topics award was, for the second consecutive meeting, Tom Horne.

Top Toastie award went to Marlene for doing so well as Area Governor and also for giving an excellent evaluation to Mark Barry immediately after he had spoken, as he had to leave early.

Belita thereafter took the plunge and “broke the ice” with her CC1 speech, “Why am I here?” Rhona Murchie (CC5) entertained us with a hilarious description of getting rid of spiders and other objectionable creatures for her daughter, Reinhardt Botha gave another masterful display of using Powerpoint with his CC8 speech and “Show me!” which opened with an invitation, “You show me yours and I’ll show you mine!” Mark Barry presented his CC9 (Persuade with Power) speech on “The uncut diamond” and Nicholas Mitchell bravely answered some rather hostile questions from “employees” after his AC24 advanced speech on “Office Flexibility”.

YOU BE THE JUDGE: When giving his evaluation of Reinhardt’s speech, Thomas Duthie idly wondered whether the C ontrast, R epetition, A lignment and P roximity Reinhardt had spoken about was an acrostic. Some English experts thought it was an acronym and it was also suggested that it was a mnemonic. This caused some heated debate!
Dictionary.com says an acronym is “ A word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words such as OPEC from Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries”
An acrostic is “ a series of lines or verses in which the first, last, or other particular letters when taken in order spell out a word, phrase, etc.”
A mnemonic something intended to assist the memory, as a verse or formula.

General Evaluator Michael Warren wrapped up the evening by reminding us yet again to be more careful of our use of time, as non-adherence to the allocated time can extend the meetings unnecessarily.

The meeting closed with a clap of thunder and soon after the heavens opened, but members very diligently cleared the tables and a few stayed on to tidy up the glasses, etc. Thank you very much!

Marriages and Misquotes - 26 April 2011

It was a dark and windy night ….. but faithful members of the Algoa Club gathered in the cosy confines of the Caritas Club – on the evening before a public holiday!

We were thrilled to welcome guests Sister Lucia, Yvette Morgan and Barry Serfontein … especially when Barry indicated his keenness to fill in a membership application form. If there are no objections to his becoming a member, he will be inducted at our next meeting.

Our Area Governor, Marlene van Wyk, was away in the USA, visiting her daughter, so we will have to wait a while before we can congratulate her in person on being selected as the Area Governor of the Year.

Rhona Murchie, Quinton Jacobs, Angie Kivido, Placxedes Ndhlovu and Marlene were all wished a wonderful celebration for their respective birthdays in April and May.

President Glenis reminded everyone of our AGM on 24 May, and also to nominate members for our executive in 2011/2012 – we can’t run our club without one! Another date to remember is our Installation Dinner on 10 June – venue to be announced.

Our Toastmaster for the evening, Quinton Jacobs, entertained us with misquotes – quotes by famous people which were somehow altered in the re-telling. The Royal Wedding was the subject of our Table Topics, cleverly prepared by Chenielle Jefferies-Badenhorst. As we had all been invited to the wedding, it was incumbent on us to take a gift, and to explain why we had chosen that particular item. Quinton had the very clever idea of presenting them with a digital photograph frame, so that they could alternate pictures of Diana and Camilla, but it was Tom Horne who received the Best Table Topics award for giving them a White Pepper ….. from a trading store in South Africa!

Top Toastie award went to Chenielle for her preparation of the topics despite a punishing assignment schedule.

The speech by Angie Kivido (CC3) “Does usefulness fade?” brought home the plight of many old people who feel useless and neglected. Alison Immelman (CC5) revealed her passion when she told us all about “My secret love” – but it wasn’t George Clooney – it was ….. Cricket!!! Reinhardt Botha’s CC7 speech entertainingly convinced us that “You can all draw” – and should do so! Mimi Makupula presented her CC9 (Persuade with Power) speech on “Questions” and Marianah Lourens recounted some funny incidents that happen when you are “Blonde and old – eish!” (AC9).

General Evaluator Elaine Stewart-Coyne wrapped up the evening by reminding us to be more careful of our use of time as non-adherence to the allocated time can extend the meetings unnecessarily ……. So let’s tighten up and make sure that we don’t go over our allocated time, whether giving a speech, a toast, an evaluation, or fulfilling any other role in the meeting.


Team Spirit - 22 March 2011

What a difference a few months make when one looks at how amply we are beginning to inhabit Caritas on the odd Tuesday evening. Hard to slide yourself under the door at 17:44 anymore – patrons at ‘the bistro’ will notice!

The meeting on 22nd March started at 17:55 due to a few technical issues and late arrivals. There were 20 members and a bumper harvest of 6 guests! Apologies were sent by Alison Immelman, Colleen Love, Joan van Aswegen and our trusty weatherman Quinton Jacobs is still away on ‘ice safari’.

Club President, Glenis Whitehead, took care of the business section and Placxedes Ndhlovu politely reminded members to pay their dues. Tom spoke about the Youth and Leadership programmes, graduations at Lawsonville, Collegiate and Westering and the high standard achieved all round.

Louise Solomons had the happy task of awarding our distinguished IT professor, Reinhardt Botha, his pin to acknowledge that he has completed 5 speeches from the Competent Communication Manual. Congratulations, Reinhardt! The meeting was then handed over to our Toastmaster for the evening, Elaine Stewart-Coyne.

Elaine’s theme for the evening was Team Spirit. After her introduction of the members who would be helping her for the evening, Leann Roos ‘opened the batting’ for Table Topics – “The Truth Behind Funny One-liners”, plus her word of the day ‘ZEST’.

It was a full programme with 5 speakers ranging from CC4 through to AC3. Chenielle Jefferies Badenhorst took the club on a virtual verbal tour of Venice at Carnival Time (CC4 & evaluated by Alan Hunter) followed by Reinhardt Botha’s thought-provoking speech on ‘Learning to Learn’ (CC6 & evaluated by Antoinette Baatjes). Mimi Makupula (CC8 & evaluated by Louise Solomons) shared her thoughts on ‘Quitting Gracefully’. Craig Stephenson (CC10 & evaluated by Denise Pudney) rounded off his accomplishments in completing his Competent Communicator Manual by giving us another perspective on the ‘Big, Bad World’. Congratulations Craig!
Backache!! Something we have all experienced to differing degrees. Gillian Nutt (AC3 & evaluated by Marianah Lourens), conducted a professional talk and demonstration on ‘The Development of the Backache’.

With the disasters in Japan still so fresh in our minds Rhona Murchie proposed a toast to ‘Rescuers and Caregivers’. With the meeting drawing closer to its conclusion, General Evaluator, Ricky Woods, gave a very positive summation of the evening’s speakers and officers.

A few statistics from the evening:-
• Word of the day (ZEST) was used 14 times
Best Table Topic. Despite the club’s proposed banning to exile, Michael Warren still managed to outsmart us, deliver an excellent retort and retain the ‘Michael Warren Best Table Topic’ (MWBTT) award. I am preparing a motion that at the next meeting we consider detention without trial.
Top Toastie Award went to Marianah Lourens for outstanding disaster management. Not only did she rescue our President, Tom and Reinhardt from the rubble of a collapsed table, she also replaced the glass of red wine!

The meeting closed at 20:10.

Words worth repeating - 22 February 2011

The meeting started with a warm welcome from President Glenis to all the members, and especially to our guests, namely Sister Lucia, Peter Peters and Derran Koch. Peter Peters has indicated that he will be joining our Club so we look forward to inducting him in the near future.

In the business section of the meeting a report was given by Colleen Love, about the Club Officer Training, which Glenis, Craig, Plaxcedes, Tom and she attended last Saturday morning. This was a very interesting morning as a presentation called “Just One” was given by Megan Judd from the Act Toastmasters Club. This was all about how just one SMS, just one email, just one smile, or just one kind word can make a difference to the people around us. This can be applied to both our private and business worlds.

The theme chosen by Toastmaster Louise Erasmus was “Quotes” which she used to introduce the various people performing duties on the programme. Some of the quotes used were “Happier the time, the quicker it goes”, “The most precious things in speech are pauses” and Louise introduced the Topicmaster, Rhona Murchie, with the quote “Let me entertain you”.

Toastmasters who present Table Topics come up with some really fascinating subjects. This time the participants were given the name of a celebrity and they had to tell us what they would like to say to that individual if they met them face to face. Some of the celebrities were Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Hitler and Beyonce. But most hilarity was caused when Sister Lucia got the Holy Father, the Pope, as her celebrity!!

Word of the day was “Perseverance” as in this day and age, people give up too easily and do not carry tasks to completion. This was presented by Marlene van Wyk, who was wearing two hats for the evening. The first hat was as a member of Algoa Club and the second was as the Area Governor.

The first speech of the evening was delivered by our Treasurer, Placxedes Ndhlovu, entitled “Smart advice……. use it!” This was a CC5 speech evaluated by Alison Immelman. Placxedes encouraged her audience to differentiate between good and bad advice. She shared the following points as good advice:
1) Be a buffalo who charges towards and embraces difficult situations
2) Organize the small to make way for the large.
3) When feeling sorry for yourself help someone else
4) Wear comfortable shoes
5) Take care of your body

Mimi Makupula was the second speaker with her CC7 speech entitled “The Revolution”. In this speech Mimi gave an account of the last six years of her life in 6 minutes. She described the different stages through which one goes after losing a loved one, i.e. denial, illusion, anger, depression and finally acceptance. For every situation in which we find ourselves we should ask, “What can I learn from this?” For every adversity there is a seed sown, which causes happiness.

Quinton Jacobs presented an educational on Selecting the Right Topic for all Occasions. He was very aptly introduced by Louise with the following quote, “You do not need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows”. This presentation was very informative, with Quinton demonstrating easy use of the projector and screen.

The Club Officer Roles presentation was done by President Glenis. In a manner which even the guests could understand, she explained the significance of the different roles. Toast of the Day to “ Our First Ice Breaker” was done by Debbie Stephenson and the evaluations by Alison Immelman and Denise Pudney were done in a constructive manner, with a lot of good advice for the speakers. The Toastmaster, Louise, ended the evening with the quote “They think it’s all over, it is”.

Members are reminded that the Area Speech Competitions will take place on Saturday morning 5th March at Victoria Park Grey School . The meeting ended a little after 8pm but once again a very entertaining and enjoyable evening was had by all present. Take care and see you all at the next meeting on Tuesday 8th March 2011.


The Christmas Party...........

Take a few energetic Toastmasters who are good sports and willing to make fools of themselves ..... throw in some balls, beanbags, balloons and a handy bar, as well as food, forfeits and a fairy story, and what have you got? An evening of rollicking, good clean fun! The Algoa Club in Port Elizabeth concluded its Jubilee Year (we were chartered in January 1960) with an old-fashioned games evening which included races, improvisation, some crazy hats (which helped us to act out the story of Snow White) and much hilarity. Who could forget Marianah’s almost two-metre tall husband writhing on the floor, impersonating a snake? Or lifting his shirt to do a "belly dance"? I was the tough, schoolmarmish Gamesmaster and there were four spirited teams who put the cast of Survivor to shame! We are changing our venue partly because the bar is sometimes a little too noisy ... but that night the patrons were popping in to see what was causing so much laughter next door! Having arrived feeling jaded from all the frenetic
end-of-year rush at work, we left feeling elated and relaxed, and just a little bruised! A fantastic way to end the year.

Thank you so much to everyone for your generous gifts for Ithemba Lam. Their need is certainly very great (especially for nappies and formula) and they are doing a wonderful work with the abandoned infants and toddlers. Marianah and I took the items you donated to Kim Fankhauser on Thursday 16 December. Most of the babies were not there as volunteers had taken them for the day or the holidays, but we managed to capture one contented little girl who had just been fed but managed to give a beautiful smile before she fell asleep.

We completed six months of our Toastmaster year and I hope that everyone will return on 24 January with renewed vigour to complete their goals! Roger is going to take the plunge and have a go at being Toastmaster, as well as completing his CC4 in the near future. Mark Barry is also very close to completing his Competent Communicator award. What goals have you set for yourself for 2011? Colleen is also hoping for a good number of entrants for the International, Impromptu and Evaluation Contests at our Bring-and-Share supper at Marlene’s home on 28 January 2011.

It just remains for me to wish you all a blessed, peaceful Christmas filled with joy and loved ones, and a wonderful, exciting New Year, filled with prospects.