Ramsey and District U3A

News for all members

The Chairman welcomed the members to the meeting and read out notices, starting with the location of emergency exits, the location of the defibrillator and asking members to make sure that their mobile phones were switched off.

A booklet was available from the Metropolitan Police, ‘The Little Book of Big Scams.’ This gives a general guide to the any scams operating in the UK, with a view to increasing awareness and easy steps to protect oneself, www.met.police.uk/docs/little_book_scam.pdf or call 02072301228.

Nina then spoke of new groups that were forming in the near future, the first will be ‘Writing for Pleasure,’ a sign-up sheet was available. Bill Thompson then gave an overview of what members could expect, mainly fun.  “The Brain Games,” were on hold at the moment, as it is proving difficult to find a date when all can meet. “Bird watching,” Val Fountain has been persuaded to take on the mantle of leader, and a sign-up sheet in was available. Last but not least, the ‘Food and cookery’ group are currently on a sabbatical. There will be a Group leaders meeting, scheduled for 18th March, when the new website will be under discussion. Nina then asked for help in getting less able members to future Open Meetings.

Enid then spoke of the pantomime, which would take place in December, subject to enough members volunteering to become the cast and stagehands. A sign-up slip was placed on each chair and a deposit box was available for completed slips.

We would like to have a list of volunteers who would be prepared to offer a lift to two of our members who are no longer able to drive to our monthly meetings as they have Alzheimer’s and have had their driving licences withdrawn.  The more people who offer the better, as this would mean that volunteers may not be called on more than once a year.  Margaret and Al live next door to each other in Biggin Lane and really enjoy the General meetings and would be extremely grateful for a lift to and from the Community Hall on the day.  Please let Nina know if you would be prepared to offer a lift once in a while, it really would be appreciated.  Thank you, a rota sheet for volunteers will be available at the next Open Meeting.

The Chairman then introduced the speaker, Ian Keable. His subject, ‘Charles Dickens Conjuror: The Playbills of Victorian Showmen’.

Charles Dickens was a prolific writer, but perhaps less well known as an actor and conjuror. In 1849 on the Isle of Wight, in Bonchurch, he performed a series of conjuring tricks, which were received with ‘wild delight’. A waybill was produced, promoting and advertising the show. This waybill was produced by letter-press; posters were however produced by lithography.

Ian then displayed a series of waybills, which in the main were about animal acts and included the Learned Pig, which could read and write, tell the time, it was very popular, even having music composed for it! Waybills were text based with very little in the way of pictures. Toby, the Sapient Pig could spell, read, write and play dominoes and was versed in Natural History. Other acts included the Learned Goose, Learned Cat, the Singing Mouse and the dog Munito.

Charles Dickens, when conjuring was called a Necromancer on his waybill as well as Rhia Rhama Rhoos, named after Indian conjurors who he had seen perform. His tricks were listed as ‘Wonders’ and were based on the performances of Ludwig Dobler and John Henry Anderson. Playbills were becoming more sophisticated.

Three ‘Wonders’ were highlighted. To end his shows, Dickens performed ‘The pudding wonder’ which was to bake a cake in a top hat and share the cake with members of the audience. The ‘travelling doll wonder’ was performed by Ian as a conclusion to his presentation, in which a naked doll vanished before our very eyes.

Finally, a member of the audience, Jane, was persuaded to part with a ring and assisted in the ‘pyramid wonder’ in which a handkerchief, money, a watch and a ring was made to vanish. The money to reappear in Ian’s wallet, the watch on his wrist, handkerchief in his pocket, but no ring for Jane’s finger! But not to worry, a series of boxes were opened and a final small box was given to Jane to open, lo and behold it contained her ring. How did he do that? We may never know!

That ended a most enjoyable afternoon and Ian was thanked by the Chairman for a most interesting session.

Our next letter for the competition is “G.”

The winner of “F” was Jenny Macro and the runner-up Gill Mitchell.

A Memory Course book was loaned out but has yet to be returned. Would everyone please have a look for it and if/when found please return it to Nina



Ramsey U3A Trips Group is compiling a long term programme of outings and holidays which will be published soon.

In the meantime, the trip to Bletchley Park on Tuesday April 26th is now fully subscribed.

National Office Events

Summer Schools 2016

This year, there are two schools, they take place at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, GL7 6JS. School 1 runs from 8-11 August and School 2 from 15-18 August. Courses at School 1 include “1491: The Americas Before Columbus.” and “Architecture Explored.” School 2 “Cryptic Crosswords for Beginners,” and “Garden Design.”

Please look at the U3A Website for up to the minute details of courses/events on events@u3a.org.uk

Free legal advice from the Third Age Trust and First Assist more details on U3A website.

VC10 and her Royal Connections, various dates.

ATG Theatre Card, reduced price for U3A members.

Future Open Meetings

Our next Open Meeting will take place on Tuesday 8th March at the Community Centre, starting at 2.00pm. The speaker will be Peter MacGregor, his subject ‘Singapore Botanical Gardens,’ the gardens are 156 years old and it is the only tropical garden to be honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Margaret Thornton will be operating a “Book Swap”. A box will be available for members to bring books and swap them for others. No payment is involved but we would ask members not to bring lots of books at any one time. If books remain “unswapped” in the box for more than a couple of months, they will be donated to Charity shops.

Notice of Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Notice is hereby given that the AGM of the Ramsey & District U3A will be held at the Ramsey Community Centre, Stocking Fen Road, Ramsey, PE26 2UR on Tuesday 12 April 2016 at 2.00pm for the purpose of conducting the following business.

  1. To receive and approve the minutes of the 2015 AGM
  2. Chairman’s report
  3. Treasurer’s report for the year ended 31 march 2016
  4. Appointment/Continued Appointment of Examiner for the Accounts
  5. Group Co-ordinator’s Report
  6. Election of Committee
  7. Consideration of motions proposed by the Members and/or Committee
  8. Formal Closure of AGM

Committee Nomination Forms and Motion Proposal Forms will be available at the next Open Meeting.




Other U3A News

Head Office courses/events include:

The Third Age Trust website for more information on courses etc.

U3A events organised by the National Office can now be booked online, so please keep an eye on the website.

And Finally

Car Parking – Please remember to park your car considerately and use the car park adjacent to the Co-op store if you are able.


When an owners dog lapped up anti-freeze, the vet I work for ordered a unique treatment: an IV drip mixing fluids with vodka. “Go buy the cheapest bottle you can find,” he told me. At the off licence, I was uneasy buying cheap booze so early in the day, and I felt compelled to explain things to the shop assistant. “Believe it or not,” I said, “this is for a sick dog.” As I was leaving, the next customer plunked down two bottles of red wine and announced, “These are for my cats.”


Editor: Mike Lewis