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Lively night of nine topics speakers discussing the seasons led by Table-topics Master Josie. We heard about Sue’s experience of being flat on her back sucking a lollipop in preparation for her honeymoon Egypt and coming to fear the rumours of zombie dogs. Well done guest Tony who swept the board as best topics speaker and best use of humour. Guest Alex took the General Evaluators Award for creative thinking in his debut table topics speech.

In the table topics the final tally was Dave and Mark favouring Autumn, Winnie and Tony favouring Summer, Alex favouring the football season, Julie and Keith favouring Winter, and Sarah and Lynda favouring Spring.

The crew were Dave as General Evaluator, Lynda as Grammarian, Vice President of Education, and Sergeant at Arms, Sue as President, Craig as Time keeper, Tony as Grunt counter, and Daniel as Toastmaster of the meeting. Anne and Julie deputed as evaluators and did a smashing (word of the day) job.

Every seat at the boardroom table was taken by eight members and five guests. The five meetings running up to Xmas will take on themes for Halloween (Oct 20th), Bonfire night (Nov 3rd), and Xmas (Dec 18th). We have yet to decide if we want tall tales, impromptu theatre or thematic table topics.

A round up of comments!

An Excellent lively meeting, despite only having one speech. I should say it was smashing as this was the word of the day. Dave

I enjoyed giving my speech and got some really good feedback from everyone. It’s great to be back. Sue

It was an excellent meeting with guests participating fearlessly, promising to return next meeting. We look forward to seeing you all again. Lynda

The conkers theme plays off Northamptonshire hosting the World Championship of Conkers on the 2nd Sunday in October. It began, in the modern era, in 1965 in the village of Ashton, but has since moved to Southwick. in 2004 500 competitors were watched by 5000 people and there are now championships held in Ireland and North America. The sport itself dates a long way back, but is documented in 1848 in the Isle of Wight. It is also known in various regions as obblyonkers, cheggies, or cheesers. Although a cheeser has a flat side, being one of a twin or triplet:

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Umbrellas it was for theme and topics. Fifteen in the house! That is a great number for the mid summer holiday season! There were three new guests, three returning guests, eight members, and a visiting Toastmaster. Top honours to Best Speaker (Josie), Best Evaluator (Craig), Best use of Humour (Julie), and best table topics speakers (Kelvin, Jo and Julie)

Sue opened the meeting by going round the table inviting people to tell us all about their favourite holiday destinations. The destination were wide ranging from backpacking Vietnam to the Bright lights of Las Vegas, from Canada to Australia, and from Hawaii to Atlantis. Within Europe we had two in Andalucía (Spain), one in Venice and another over in Istanbul.

The Toastmaster of the Evening (Daniel) adopted umbrellas as theme of the meeting. A choice inspired by Northampton’s recent Umbrella festival and England’s inclement August.

Prepared Speeches

We were fortunate to have three prepared speeches and thus a was on the cards.

Maxime, a visiting Toastmaster from Cranfield Speakers, gave his project nine Competent Communicator speech on challenging ourselves to leave our comfort zones. Happiness is one step outside the comfort zone. It is easy to become creatures of habit, but there is always a need for the thrill of novelty. Maxime’s own life has seen him travel from France to Cranfield University to do his Master’s degree, into Cranfield Speakers to obtain his Competent Communicator with 11 months (picking up the inaugural Award of Cranfield Toastmaster of the Year), and earlier in the month a 6000km road trip to Andalucía.

Derek gave his maiden icebreaker speech on his life told through his ties. Derek fished out his first tie –from the Royal Artillery to start his life story as a Meteorologist that lead on a career path to becoming a trainer via a tie from the Territorial Army’s Tyneside Scottish. The inspiration for using Ties to tell a life story came the day before whilst Derek was attending to his laundry.

Joise gave her project three Competent Communicator speech entitled “A brief experience of mindfulness” Josie used grapes and chocolates to give us all a practical example of the heightened experience of the moment that is possible if take time to savour all the sensory details. Mindfulness is put forward as the wellbeing enhancing antidote to people over thinking the past or the future.

The Speech-evaluators were Daniel, Maxime, and Ganesh respectively.

Table Topics

Lynda Table Topics Master, picked up the Umbrellas theme and circulated various exotic umbrellas designs to set the context. The table topic speakers had to come forward and tell what they were thinking about when they invented, an as yet unseen, umbrella design.

Julie imagined the shower curtain umbrella that economically allowed its occupants to freshen up whilst they walked, clothed or otherwise.








Reena imagined the ever practical self standing umbrella that saved on all the bother of finding an umbrella stand at home or whilst out visiting.






Jo was intrigued by this backpack umbrella that left one hands free to drink wine or as the picture stereo-typically suggests carry the shopping home. This example, in Black, is clearly marketed to men for Valentine’s day inspiration. In a lad’s case this brolly is also ideal for himself to mooch about with iPhone and a pint of beer in total dryness.








Kelvin dreamed up the upside down umbrella to help dogs stay dry and owners get wet unless they are fitted out with matching backpack umbrella.







The table topics session was evaluated by Craig.

The Crew

Lynda and Hamid kept time as the Time-keepers. Lynda is also Vice-President of Education. Sue is President and for this meeting was also General & Meeting Evaluator and Sergeant at Arms. Reena was the Grunt counter.

Umbrella Trivia

There are many synonyms of the word umbrella. Which of the following was popular towards the end of the 19th century?

    Bumbershoot. Bumbershoot is an American term for umbrella that came into existence in the late 1890’s. Brolly is a synonym for umbrella that is commonly used in countries such as Britain and Australia. Other synonyms of umbrella include gamp, sunshade, rainshade and parapluie.

What were umbrellas originally used to protect people from?

    Sun. People have been using umbrellas for thousands of years to protect them from the sun and its heat and only a few hundred years for rain protection.

In Ancient Greece, umbrellas were a fashion accessory used only by men.

    False. Umbrellas were first used by women in Ancient Greece in the 5th century BC. The men did not use them as they were not considered to be manly enough. The tradition of Greek women with umbrellas continued for thousands of years.

In Egyptian mythology what was thought to be the underbelly of a god that stretched from side to the other like an umbrella?

    Sky. Ancient Egyptians believed the sky was the underbelly of a god and looked like a giant umbrella. This was why Pharaohs and other notable people were often seen under the shade of an umbrella.

In the 1400s sailors from Portugal that were destined for the East Indies carried an umbrella over their captain’s head when they landed on a new island. Why did they do this?

    To show his authority. Like many cultures, the Portuguese also saw the umbrella as a sign of authority and status. The same ships also carried umbrellas to offer as gifts to the native royals that they encountered on these islands.

John Hanway was the first person to introduce an umbrella to England. What was the main reason the English coachmen abused him when they saw him pass by?

    They feared the umbrella would affect their business. John Hanway bought the first umbrella to England from Portugal in the 17th century. He had the coachmen worried that would lose business and they often abused him.

In the 1700s umbrellas were in regular production in Britain. What material was most often used for the ribs of the umbrellas?

    Whalebone. That’s right, they chose to use whalebone. Whalebone is the structure in the mouths of whales that the animals use to filter out the small food such as krill from large mouthfuls of water. The whalebone was used because it offered both strength and flexibility.

Gosselin of Amiens is credited with inventing what type of umbrella?

    Fold-up umbrella. The fold-up umbrella has been around since the 1750s and the original model comprised of four steel rods and was designed to fit inside pockets.

Some British soldiers took umbrellas with them into the battles of the Napoleonic wars.

    True. The Napoleonic Wars took place in the early 1800s. Umbrellas were carried by some soldiers until the British military decided that they were not a fitting image for fighting soldiers. Soldiers from other countries including America also took umbrellas to some wars such as the Indian wars.

Brolliology is the study of umbrellas.

    True. Brolliologists usually study the origin and history of umbrellas. They can not however, agree upon where the umbrella originated as there is evidence that they have existed for thousands of years in civilisations such as the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.


Deep into the holiday season we were delighted to see two new guests, three returning guests, and seven members virtually taking every seat in the boardroom at 53 Billing Road.


Josie débuted as Evaluator and promptly take the award for the best evaluator! Well done!


First time guest Julie storms in with a joint share of best Table Topics speaker with Derek and goes on to get best use of Humour as well as the General Evaluators award. Brilliant simple brilliant Julie and well done Derek as well!

Sue opened the meeting with by asking everyone to introduce themselves and comment on summer festival that hey would love to attend. We leaned a lot about everyone ranging from music, to dance and from food to farming, etc. The word of the day was chosen a festive or festival.



1) Izzy delivered her Icebreaker entitled “fears”, such as the fear of public speaking and explored her fear of spiders.

Competent Communication Manual #1 – The Ice Breaker(4:00-6:00 min)
Speak before an audience; Use existing speaking skills; Introduce self to fellow club members.

Izzy has a propensity to do the crazy lady escape the spider dance if one of the wee beasties gets remotely close. As a mathematics trained scientist she graphed her fear against leg count and concluded that eight legs was the worst of all invertebrates by a significant margin. Lovely hand drawn visual aids showing an artistic flair inherited from her mother.

Josie evaluated Izzy and picked out the great content and story and then recommended that Izzy develop her delivery to include more use of the stage area and body language.

2) Lynda came to the recue, on the spur of the moment, with a speech entitled “Eek” based on the Competent Communicator manual project 5 “Your body speaks”. 

Competent Communication Manual #5 – Your Body Speaks(5:00-7:00 min)
Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact to express the message and achieve the speech’s purpose; Make body language smooth and natural; Focus on methods of delivery as well as speech content.

Lynda described how one drizzly day in the dark predawn stillness she heard a sudden demonic screeching. Jumping to the conclusion that her Guinea pigs were under attack she leaped out of bed in total darkness and made her way out across the cold and sodden lawn. All was well, but Lynda was as wet as a drowned rat with her pyjamas doing justice to any wet t-shirt contest. Making her way back towards her front door she was horrified to see looming out of the darkness the silhouette of a strange man standing inside the open door of her home. In an instant the stranger spotted her and both screamed in shock and fled. It transpired that it was the milkman on his rounds and he was startled to find the house wide open and dark and he ventured over the threshold to see if anyone needed help.

Derek bravely came forward as a debut evaluator and did very well picking out a lot of strengths and made several intelligent recommendations.

Table Topics

Ganesh was débuting as Table Topics master and adopted the approach of providing a series of slightly obscure words and inviting speakers to come forth an hazard a definition for each word

  1. Adumbrate –Sue described her overshadowing festival –fairy light enhanced -shelter to prevent excess sunburn
  2. Hackneyed –Derek described the well hackneyed banter of hackney cab drivers
  3. Malediction –Kodi described how any of his addictions always seemed to be bad for him and thus maledictions (and thus presumably the search goes on for a good a one, i.e a benediction?)
  4. Pugnacious –Lynda described how her son had managed to turn her car into a pungent pugnacious mobile when he did the oil change…eventually she narrowed it down to him leaving his hamburger under the bonnet on a very hot pipe.
  5. Parsimony –Julie developed a definition from the old French of an elegant way of describing a woman who chooses not to marry.
  6. Vicarious – Reena spoke of the vicarious vicars who are privy to all the best gossip in town during the confessional.

Daniel evaluated the session and commended the way Ganesh was able to creatively manage the time and extend the session to include more people and compensate for the late loss of one of the planned speeches. In time, as Ganesh gets more familiar with the role, it will be easier to set up a good introduction and then summarise before asking for votes. It was also a tough test of impromptu speaking and Ganesh handled it well allowing people to say NO, but in the longer term other approaches will make sessions more accessible to novices. One recommended approach is the familiar set of questions…If you could go to any point in time when would that be and why? If you ruled the world what would you do?…If you had a super power of you choice what would it be and why?

The Motley Crew

Sue starred as President and Toastmaster of the Evening. Lynda was General & Meeting Evaluator and minded us all to keep tidy handovers with hand shakes. Daniel doubled up as time keeper and Kodi counted the grunts.

Next Meeting

18th August 14 at 19:15 at 53 Billing Road, Northampton

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Note the club aims to be present with a stall at the Umbrella Fair 16 & 17 August at Northampton racecourse ( All welcome to volunteer to man the stand. Liaise with Sue Savage please.

Every seat at the boardroom table was taken by six members, three new guests, and three returning guests. We enjoyed two prepared speeches from Dave and Sue. New member Josie led an inspired table topics session that drew eight topics speakers to the floor. Issie and Dereck shared the honours for best topics speakers and Dave took best evaluator for doing a fantastic job evaluating all eight topics speakers and Josie the table-topics master. To round out the night Sue, Kelvin, Daniel and Josie tied for best use of humour.

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Prepared Speeches

Dave’s gave us an after dinner talk, the fifth project from the advanced manual “The Entertaining Speaker”, entitled “Time will tell”. The talk was a humorous tour of his experience of Toastmasters venues with with flawed character overlaid with his experiences of being involved with six club start-up attempts. Some venues needed extra seating up the isles of the library, others had singing in the background, some were cold and mouldy, and yet others prone to impossible car parking if the local hall had an event on.

Sue’s prepared speech on “How to win at Meetup” was a project 2 speech from the Competent Communicator manual. Sue laid out a systematic approach to optimising the use of the Meetup website by Toastmasters’ clubs. Going through the What, Why, How and When that works. Of those present at the Meeting over half had heard of Northampton Speakers through Meetup. Since the meeting others have signed up at Meetup.

Table Topics

Josie developed an inspired theme around colours, drawing and mood. Drawing and colouring form part of her earliest memories.

  1. Kelvin talked about childhood memories and boxing with his relatively young father and the need to catch-up on some more moments like that.
  2. Daniel talked about why some teachers are grumpy –are they kill joy disciplinarians? In any case they are far better off pensioned off as soon as the pension system can be fixed.
  3. Lynda spoke about art and what is art and that it is what you want it to be.
  4. Issie mused about doing something she loved, which might be learning and contrasted that to her up coming consultancy career which will surely offer a heady ascent up the salary scale.
  5. Jacky, when asked about favourite clothing, told of her love for 1960s vintage clothing that she either makes or sources online or in specialist shops.
  6. Reena gave us her views on colours and moods around the house from hot energetic red and orange colours that might not be restful to calmer blues and greens.
  7. Dereck was given brands and colours and plumped for VW, his employers brand, and the colour for him in a car was the first available –silver.
  8. Kodi spoke of yellow ducklings and sky blues as great fun calming mood colours to have around children.


Sue was President, General Evaluator, Meeting Evaluator, and Sergeant at arms. Lynda was Vice president of Education. and Toastmaster. Dave was Topics Evaluator with Daniel and Joydeep being the Speech Evaluators. Daniel and Joydeep were also the timekeepers. Kelvin took on the grunt counter role.

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Next meeting 4th August at 53 Billing Road, Northampton

The seventh meeting saw eight Toastmasters and guests gather at 53 billing road. Joint honours were taken by Ganesh and Josie for best Table-topics. Ganesh also debuted as an evaluator and evaluated an advanced educational speech. At the end of the meeting Northampton Speakers had identified the first six of twenty charter members, has two further spare dual members, and has two applications yet to be finalised. The word of the day was Scabrous which was not used by anyone. Tasty teasers from Malta were provided during the break having been brought by Daniel following his recent holiday there.

There were two prepared speeches:

  1. Sue presented “Aliens In Our Midst” from the advanced speech manual Special Occasion Speeches (2008-07) #3 – The Roast (3:00-5:00 min) Poke good-natured fun at someone; Adapt humour from other sources; Deliver jokes and humourous stories effectively. Her evaluator was Craig. She came prepared with her husband mark and proceeded to show that he must be an alien by the number of shampoo bottles he has on the go and the number of ‘man drawers’ of useless paraphernalia he has all over their house.
  2. An educational speech “Find new members for you club ” (10:00-15:00 min) was presented by Daniel. It was taken from the Successful Club series of leadership speeches. His evaluator was Ganesh who was debuting as an evaluator. With the aid of Captain Jack Sparrow’s Daniel told via his own journey into Toastmasters that it is the connections we make through people and their Toastmaster ambassadorial role that are far more effective than marketing per se.

The table topics session was lead by Lynda and themed on things dental:

  1. Craig was in the dentist chair and decided that he would rather suffer the dentists drill than have the anaesthetic needle
  2. Daniel had super enamelling gel that would regenerate 83% of his teeth enamel every three days so he proceeded to brush it into his teeth until there enamel for everyone and then proceeded to re-enamel his tea pots and whole house.
  3. Josie had the chance to improve anything and decided that despite buddist beliefs that a few less lines would help
  4. Ganesh had dental gadgets and soon concluded that his GPS, dictaphone and his mobile phone were the most important gadgets he wanted.

Dave was General Evaluator with Lynda keeping time and Sue Presiding and acting a Sergeant at Arms.

Dates of the next meeting 7:15 for 7:30 on Monday the 7th July at 53 Billing road to be followed by the inaugural meeting of the executive committee.

Area 44 Club Officer Training will take place on Cranfield University Campus 19th July. All members are welcome to attend.

Write-up prepared by Daniel Sandars, 19th June 2014

Northampton Speakers meet on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month (except for bank holidays) 19.15 for 19.30 at 53 Billing Road, Northampton, NN1 5DB  FindUs on Facebook, Find Us on Meetup or go to our Website

The sixth meeting of prospective club Northampton Speakers.

Sue Savage, Club President

“Another entertaining meeting, with a visit from a toastmaster from Slovenia! Irina told us about the delights of Slovenian holidays, and made our mouths water with her description of ‘moving cake’.
What surprises will the next meeting hold? Hopefully we’ll hear a bit about Daniel’s visit to a toastmasters club in Malta.”

Lynda Andrews, Area 44 Governor

“Another enjoyable meeting with an advanced speech, good evaluations and an enjoyable impromptu speaking session. There were 2 guests this evening who spoke of the friendliness of the members and the warm welcome they received.”

Dave Minzey, Distinguished Toastmaster

“AN entertaining evening. The club is building.”

Next meeting Monday 16th June at 19:15 at 53 Billing Road Northampton NN1 5DB


Northampton Speakers 5th Meeting 19th May 2014

STOP PRESS Joydeep delivered our first home-grown Icebreaker speech tonight. Joydeep also took the award for the Best use of Humour. Steve took Best Table topics Speaker and Craig took Best Evaluator award.


Ten Toastmasters, visiting Toastmasters and most welcome guests gathered at 53 Billing road for the Club’s fifth meeting. This exciting and interesting meeting was themed on Northampton and entitled “A Toastmaster’s Guide to Northampton” It was presided over by the Club’s President Sue supported by Daniel as Toastmaster of the Evening and acting Sergeant at Arms. Scintillate was chosen as the word of the day by Sue, as Grammarian.

Sue evaluated our first speaker Joydeep who gave his Icebreaker talk entitled “Turning the Corner” Joydeep charted his life as a very shy guy avoiding public speaking at all costs to slowly having to do more as a professional and eventually reaching the point where with a week singing practice, to his wife, at home he believed he could step onto a stage ‘willingly’.

Tim evaluated our second speaker Steve who had a talk entitled “A fine claret”. Steve left the room dumb struck by a series of dates and names that all proved to be very significant in the life of Northampton Town Football Club. The passion and timeline of Northampton Town FC ran through Steve’s life as a series of anchor point for a vast array of date related trivia.

Tabletopics master was Sue who posed four Northampton related topics. 1) Lynda tooks us on a tour of her 52 pairs of shoes in search of her ‘favourite shoes’ and came down to a pair of trainers for go anywhere comfort and white fashion shoes to wear to look fabulous at photo-shoots where 3/4 length shots are taken. 2) Steve went looking for his ‘favourite sport’ between football, rugby, and cricket. To everyone’s relief avoided the ‘F’ word and told us how, as a kid, he and his mates used to enjoy larking about at the Cricket ground with their £10 season tickets, whilst keeping company with the Septuagenarians who were rolling up their final days and years. 3) Ganeesh took us for a walk in search of his ‘favourite building’. Once we were over the shock that the Northampton’s buildings are not huge like Buckingham Palace or The Empire State Building, but are nevertheless good we went via museums, churches, and history to arrive at the best of all, his home. 4) Tim had to choose his ‘favourite racer’ and played ying yang with us as he vacillated between race horse or race car, before finally settling for the car!

Lynda was general evaluator and meeting evaluator and Tim kept time as Time Keeper

Prepared by Daniel Sandars Apologies if they are brief, but I go on holiday very soon

Four Toastmasters and four welcome guest gathered in the board room at Billing road for a fun night. Awards went to Josie for a début win with table topics and Daniel won humour. Next meeting is 19th of May at 53 Billing road, Northampton, with Daniel as Toastmaster-of-the-Evening.


 The meeting

Sue revisited her icebreaker with a talk entitled “dance as if no one is watching you”. She told a lively tale of being cajoled into ballet because it was pink to find that she actually liked country dancing, but that ballet had an unexpected virtue later in life with fencing.

Topic-master Dave recalled his recent holidays to Hastings and wondered about other people’s holidays:

  1. A holiday at a Butlins style holiday camp? Daniel told how, with his wife, they enjoyed modern-jive partner dancing and had often been to weekends and weeks of dance camps to spent hours and repetitive hours in workshops and further hours social dancing until breakfast time.
  2. A holiday with a backpack? Josie recalled how she went hiking in Thailand and Vietnam, which as a refuge from Vietnam made her parents very anxious. All went well then a large python landed on her head. To be continued (ahhh dramatic tease lol)
  3. A holiday with B&B?  Katharine has just come back from conferencing in Brussels, making use of airBnB’s (rooms in peoples houses) including a visit to Brugge.
  4. A holiday in a tent? Lynda takes her carpet camping and finds it a great way to have a pleasant dry changing area in the front of the tent and to insulate the air bed when cold was the ground and dark was the night.
  5. A long distance holiday? Garesh recalled a trip to America where he had great fun in New York but then reach the bottom down South when he found Dallas to be too big,  too open, too dry, too sparse, and too tedious after walking round the same lake for the nth time.
  6. A walking holiday? Jordi had a very agreeable walking holiday in the Isle of Skye that passed right through a whiskey distillery or two.

Many thanks for Dave who evaluated Sue’s speech and to Lynda who, given no real notice, managed to meaningfully evaluate all 7 table-topic participants within 5 minutes. Lynda also provided light entertainments with a 5 minute quiz around 20th-21st century years ending in 4 and chaired the meeting as Toastmaster-of-the-Evening. In addition to re-presenting her icebreaker, Sue was President and co-Timekeeper.  The other co-Timekeeper was Daniel who also acted as General Evaluator.

Prepared by D. L Sandars 29/4/2014