Winchelsea Second Wednesday Society
invite a very wide range of speakers to share their knowledge, passion and experience with us, followed by a lively question and answer session and a fabulous homemade afternoon tea. We meet at 2.30pm in the New Hall, Rectory Lane.
Society Chair, Natasha Robinson writes:
…a phrase I’ve heard so many times over my many years in hospitality; and now at Second Wednesday. In this instance, the Bill I refer to is our very own Mr Doherty. Renowned for his great knowledge, his extraordinary memory and his unique delivery, Bill’s February talk was entitled “A Man and a Brother”.
Most of you know him as a retired Consultant in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care, or for his inimitably eloquent vote of thanks at Literary Society. Less well known is his gift for foreign languages. We exchange emails about books or articles, which he always signs off in fluent Italian. As a proud Glaswegian with a great love of History, he devotes much of his time countering the notion that Edinburgh is the Athens of the North.
Bill’s talk focused on the economics, the fashions, facts and figures, technical advances and even the randomness of the prevailing winds, that all played their part in forming the framework of the Slave Trade.
The banality of numbers, graphs and blue prints only emphasised, in the words of another famous Scot, Robert Burns, “Man’s inhumanity to man”. He laid bare the misery of up to twelve million people and the casual barbarity that reduced them to numbers on a balance sheet or an insurance claim.
As in its creation, its demise was another list of random factors converging to change the course of history yet again. Quakerism, Revolution and Marketing formed a powerful triumvirate. They paved the way for the Abolitionist Movement, political upheaval, industrial growth and one of the only powers allowed to women, a purchasing boycott.
But the deciding factor was of course profitability; when it no longer made financial sense, the Transatlantic Slave Trade finally came to an end.
March is a much anticipated, milestone month. The 1st is not only the Meteorological beginning of Spring, but this year, is also Shrove Tuesday. If you find it hard to buy into Spring yet, then Astronomical Spring is the 20th and the clocks change on the 27th. So whichever way you look at it, it’s a month for joy and hope, pancakes and daffodils.
March also, will bring Mary Smith to us at SWS. During her time as Headteacher at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, she discovered a remarkable archive detailing the history of the school during the Second World War. Helen Keen, Art Teacher at the time, had recorded, in sketches and watercolours, the everyday struggles faced by staff and pupils alike, during those dark days. Her talk is the inspirational story of “A Schoolgirl’s War”.
For those of you wondering about my choice of illustration this month, it’s a reference to Billie Holiday’s 1939 song, Strange Fruit. Nina Simone’s 1965 cover, turned it into an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. As my brother-in-law always says, “every day is a school day” and every Second Wednesday really is an opportunity to discover all sorts of wonderful and important things together.
This is the Second Wednesday programme through to the autumn.
“A Man and a Brother: the transatlantic slave trade” Bill Doherty
“A Schoolgirl’s War: the paintings of Helen Keen” Mary Smith
“Statues” Andrew Ashton
“Strictly Scottish Country Dancing” Maddy Coelho and Paul Youlten
“Sussex Literary Landscapes” Geoffrey Mead
“Crossing the Great Divide: 10 days with the wildlife of Costa Rica” Michael Howard
“Careering through the Diplomatic Service” Richard Thomas
“Camping De-Lux: Billy Butlin’s holiday villages by the sea” Dr Kathryn Ferry