In the February edition of the Newsletter:
Some time ago, when I drove a few friends to our First Monday meeting in Leeds, I was in a new (to me) car. I parked in the pub car park, we all got out, and I pressed the button to lock the car. Nothing happened; no clunk, no flashing lights, nothing. I tried a few more times. Car would not lock. We decided the battery in the key must have packed up. Some bright spark suggested it might be possible to lock the car by the old-fashioned method of putting the key in the lock and turning it. So, I did, and it worked.
By the time we came out of the pub we had forgotten all about the trauma of locking the car, until I pressed the button to unlock it, and nothing happened. I tried a few more times, then resorted to the turning key in lock method. The car unlocked, we all climbed in - and the alarm went off.
I pressed frantically and fruitlessly on the button, whilst somebody else rummaged for the manual, to see if it had any helpful suggestions. It didn't. But eventually the alarm stopped, and we were able to drive away. Fortunately, I had a spare car key at home. Somewhat surprisingly, the car locked when I got home, but I wasn't risking that happening again, so I put the spare key in my handbag.
Over the next few weeks the original key worked fine, and I sort of forgot about it - until we went to the same pub a month later. And guess what? The car wouldn't lock. I smugly pulled the spare key from my bag, but that didn't work either. That was when I noticed an innocuous looking metal box, about the size of a small garden shed, just over the fence from the car park. It occurred to me that, if that was some sort of electrical installation, it might be interfering with the workings of the electronic car locking mechanism. So, I got back in the car and moved it to the far side of the car park and, provided I hid behind the car where the metal box couldn't see me, the key worked. But why me? Nobody else seems to have problems locking their car in that car park. And, furthermore, I didn't have a problem with my previous car.
Then recently I discovered a new problem. One of my Christmas presents was a somewhat erroneously named dashcam, short for dashboard camera, which doesn't go on the dashboard at all, it fixes at the top of the windscreen, behind the mirror. Helps to provide factual rather than fabricated evidence, in the event of some misfortune befalling.
I was parked outside a friend's house in a peaceful suburban street, when a car alarm went off. As you do, we looked out of the window, and I saw, to my embarrassment, that the car with the flashing lights was my car. It never occurred to me that some terrifying criminal was actually trying to steal my car, so I dashed out to try and silence it. I wasn't wrong. No criminal; just a camera swinging on its cable because the hot sun on the windscreen had loosened the fixing. And the movement of the swinging camera had triggered the alarm. I wonder how much it costs to have a car alarm unfitted?
Look forward to seeing you,
I'm Chenda Appleyard
It's a few months now since we had a roundup from Brightspace. Have you joined our members' only Facebook group yet? Over 1000 members have done so and are having a variety of interesting discussions.
Well, someone had to mention it! Brexit - though the response is mixed with some people saying they were trying to get away from all the Brexit talk.
Another pertinent question asked was 'So, what did sentences begin with before everyone started beginning them with 'so'
Mm, good question! I notice your editors sometimes fall into the trap of starting with so!
One or two posts talking about President Trump in relation to high IQ.
Brain power, high IQ and similar topics pop up quite regularly often leading to the nature / nurture debate. Talking of brain power, Child Genius returns again this year and our gifted child consultant, Lyn Kendall answered some questions and offered some insights into the process and the fun the children have when recording the programme.
Quite a few graphic quizzes this last month spotting cats and other things in wood piles or hidden in busy pictures.
One or two threads about the revamped website, which if not already live by the time you read this, will be about to do so.
Some of these posts have over 100 comments attributed to them, so as you will gather it is a lively and
So (Hmm, mmm) if you are curious and would like to join Brightspace why not do it now? Just follow the instructions below or log into the website and go to: https://www.mensa.org.uk/news/have-you-joined-brightspace-yet
As it's a secret group, you won't be able to find it by searching for Brightspace and no-one who is not in the group will be able to see who is a member of it or any postings.
So that we can make sure only current members are in Brightspace, you will first need to send a friend request to Lucy Amnes, and a direct message with your membership number. Lucy's account is public, so if you want to protect your Facebook anonymity, you can "unfriend" her as soon as you have joined the group (she won't get offended!).
The membership team will then add you to the group.
If you're not already on Facebook, could this be a good time to join? It's easy, free, and you can set your account so that other people can only see as much or as little of what you post as you choose.
To comply with Facebook rules we won't be able to let anyone under 13 join the group, and if someone leaves Mensa they will also be removed from Brightspace.
The Antiques Roadshow
Ever one for a new experience, when an invitation from Newcastle Libraries popped up in my inbox looking for volunteers to act as Stewards at The Antiques Roadshow, to be filmed at Newcastle Civic Centre, I jumped at the chance.
Not much information was forthcoming beforehand, until we attended the pre-show briefing at 3.30 (in the very plush surroundings of the Civic Centre's council chamber) the day before the event.
We would have to be there from before 8.30 on the Thursday morning, and stay all day. We would be looking after the queues (and there were plenty of them), looking after the experts' minor needs (tea and coffee, marshalling those waiting to meet them) and generally being observant and pro-active. In return we got a free lunch, access to the experts if we had items we wanted valuing, and an exciting opportunity to observe the filming of a BBC institution at close hand.
This is The Antiques Road Show's fortieth anniversary, so they must be doing something right. They certainly have the organisation down to a fine art. Apparently, they start eighteen months before hand inspecting and deciding on venues. Then I would imagine they have a countdown of everything that needs to be done prior to the setting up on the day in question.
Most venues are outside, which mean there must be an extra consideration of possible wet weather. The Civic Centre ballroom obviated that necessity and the long concourse outside meant that the long queue waiting outside was under cover regardless of any degree of precipitation.
As it happened, the day dawned fine, if not warm, and the long queue, snaking its way back towards the church, had no need of umbrellas. From conversations I had with queuers inside, many friendships were forged during the hour or more in the queue - testament, perhaps, to the British virtue of being able to queue under any circumstances with fortitude and good humour.
The forty years of experience in setting up showed as the reception crew checked people's offerings - some people had several items they wanted to be valued, issuing them with coloured tickets indicating which queue/s they should join inside the ballroom. And then they queued again, in some cases for an hour or more.
While most specialties had two or more experts on each desk, if something exciting appeared an expert would disappear, sometimes for up to an hour, for discussing with the producer, filming, research, and discussion with colleagues.
But still those in the queues continued to chat to each other, shuffling along, waiting patiently for their turn to be told they had something interesting (excitement) or commonplace (disappointment, politely disguised).
Lunch, which was very good (lasagne, both vegetarian and meat varieties, pudding, fruit and drinks) was eaten with cast and crew - though most of the volunteers, not wishing to presume, sat with each other.
By 4.30 when the queue was at its end and the doors were closed, we were all sore of foot and back, but we battled gamely on until the very end of the filming (a first edition, signed, of a children's book) and then returned our one-size-fits-all boater hats, and our red stewards' sashes, and headed out into a cold, dark Newcastle night, full of the feeling of a job well done and an exciting insight into a BBC institution which looks like going on for a lot longer (though perhaps another forty years might be a bit ambitious).