A presentation was given by Joan Horton on Lawmakers, Breakers and Enforcers for our June meeting– a history of how our legal system evolved into today’s Parliamentary Democracy and independent judiciary, and how miscreants offended, were caught and dealt with.
Women’s involvement gradually increased in the 20th century, with the vote, and the introduction of women police, MPs magistrates and judges.
Today, the Supreme Court is headed by Lady Hale, Dame Cressida Dick is the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and there have been two female Prime Ministers.
However, offenders haven’t really changed much over the centuries—only adapted to life in their times. For example, petty thieves have always targeted untraceable and easy to sell items: textiles pre 20th century were extremely expensive and an easy target as one sheet or tablecloth from a washing line looked much another.
In more recent times it was radios, then TVs, then videos, then PCs, and now it’s laptops and mobile phones. What next one wonders? The talk ended with some anecdotes from Joan’s 34 years as a local JP including some hilarious cases of indecent exposure. Joan found that although cases could make her cross, upset or exasperated, the hardest thing had always been to maintain a deadpan face and not laugh at the sheer stupidity so often portrayed.
For our July meeting, a presentation was given by Joan Horton on DNA—an explanation of how it makes us who we are, the history of its discovery, and the main uses to which the knowledge is put today: fighting crime, inventing new medical treatments, and tracing our family history.
As a qualified nurse, Joan had always had an interest in DNA’s role in hereditary conditions, especially as much of the research and its discovery was done at King’s College Hospital, where she trained. During her 34 years as a JP, DNA had been introduced as a crime detection tool and is now indispensable.
One of her main hobbies is family history, in which DNA is also becoming a significant tool in discovering one’s forbears, and relatives one didn’t know one had. Except for identical twins, we are all genetically unique, however only 1% of our DNA accounts for humanity’s differences.
We share DNA with every living being, and the talk concluded with the information that we share 50% of our DNA with a cabbage!
In August we had John Thirkettle on Adventures and Experiences.
John gave an amusing account of his childhood during the war and his call-up for National Service a few years later. By then he was part way through an engineering apprenticeship, which his father asked he be allowed to complete. Ultimately he joined the RAF, where his National Service stretched into a full career. Various strange and funny encounters with local during postings to Germany, Cyprus, and Egypt were related, and after leaving the RAF John continued to work and travel widely.
We were all in fits over his tale of attending a large and long-winded Japanese convention. He sneaked out of the hall, but later, being unable to read the signs couldn’t find his way back. On opening the door into what he thought was the hall, he found himself gate-crashing a wedding, where guests came up talking to him in Japanese. They introduced him to everyone as is the custom if a stranger walks in, so it took some time. Then on returning to his convention they wanted to know what took him so long… an interesting talk!
Images from Iver: A beautiful cushion cover crafted by Pat Gravette and azalea and clematis from Margaret Smith’s garden.