Raymond W L Powell
Personal Pages Web Site
Welcome to my personal web site. Bit pretentious Yes! But before I don my wooden overcoat I have a few things to get off my chest and since I don't have a newspaper column and the letters pages are heavily censored then this is my answer.
Well bit by bit I will add my four pennies worth to anything that takes my fancy and who knows someone might agree with me or find my words/ideas illumination. After about 70-years of experience I might have a few grains of wisdom to impart to the world or I might be a bit off my rocker but these pages may make me feel better!
18th June 2016
I am seventy-three this this year and was not sure if I should vote in the referendum. I do know my father died aged fifty-four having smoked too many cigarettes given to him by the British Army as he tramped halfway across North Africa in pursuit of Rommel's army, then halfway up Italy and finally halfway across Europe to help rid the Continent of the perverted nationalism of the German National Socialist party.
National pride is one thing but Nationalism is a dangerous cause and we in Britain today would not be having a referendum were it not for the splinter group of the Conservative Party and the others who favour being big fish in a small pond. In their endeavours they have tapped into the discontent of the British public which is what Hitler did in the days of the old Weimar republic. These people would have us take a step backwards towards feudalism where the polished soles of those that afford the footwear of John Lobb can curtail the hopes and aspirations of a generation.
At present, for all the bizarre decisions of the European Court of human rights, it at least ensures a final unbiased refuge of fairness to everyone within the community free from Nationalism that might be applied in a given country.
There may be much wrong with the EU at present but these faults can be put right unlike the untimely murder of Jo Cox (MP) who seems to have been the victim of just the Nationalism of discontent prevalent in the 1930s no matter how mentally unstable the perpetrator may be found to suffer in this case.
I now know where I shall caste my vote if only to replace that lost with Jo Cox and I hope many older people like me will think on what their parents went though to give us an easier life which we have largely taken for granted. History tells us we cannot be divorced from Europe nor should we be the initiator of its fragmentation into Nationalism that so easily can be perverted by coteries of self interested parties.
3rd June 2016
Just completed a long letter and report for submission to the Chairman of the Quainton Railway Society Ltd (QRS) this being the result of my putting certain information into the hands of the QRS Honorary Secretary a little while before their Annual General Meeting. I have been asked to keep the whole matter confidential but sooner or later I will publish my findings and any correspondence relating to these matters as I believe any members is entitled to know what is going on. I don't think these things should be aired on the members web site but they are more than a simple squabble between the group I represent, who are vulnerable to retribution where as I am only subject to ex communication.
18th May 2016
Just back from a pretty successful visit to the Milton Keynes Museum with an entourage of my U3A Technology Group. It has taken quite a bit of organising not least because the paid administrator at the museum was quite difficult to deal with as most local authority managers seem to be. The volunteers were, however, brilliant in their presentations and the catering volunteers equally so. I can recommend the cream tea which I had for lunch. It is a great place to take children for the breath of social history available to see and touch including making toast in from of a coal fired kitchen range on a toasting fork. My group specifically visited to do some detailed study of telecommunications and for that matter even smoke signals which we were surprised to learn were not just used by the Red Indians of North America.
Now I am going to be busy organising our visit to Birmingham next month to visit the Pen Museum of writing and writing instrument plus a visit to s Silversmith factory frozen in 1952 or thereabouts.
17th May 2016
Today I received a formal letter from Ben Jackson, the newly appointed Chairman of the Quainton Railway Society. I say appointed because both the Chairman's position and that of the Honorary Secretary's were made by the incumbent Trustees and not by direct election which is another rule broken in the Society. The letter bizarrely requested me to explain why I had submitted the confidential report and information about one of the Trustees mentioned earlier. I would have thought the details were self evident but none the less I suppose I will have to explain to them in words of one syllable what the implications are of this document. They have also asked me what I wish to be the outcome of their deliberations in respect of the original document and my reply. ( I am tempted to say I don't believe it) Anyway, for the moment the Chairman has asked me to keep this matter confidential at least in detail although quite a few members were made aware of the facts by word of mouth at the AGM
16th April 2016
Attended the QRS AGM today it was quite bizarre. On arrival a revised agenda was handed out and a thick copy of the Audited Accounts. Mind you yesterday we received a third mailing from the Society containing an expensive full colour magazine style Trustees' Report including the statement of accounts which now seem to be amended a day later. The Acting Chairman opened the meeting apologising for lateness and sequential posting of the various document. He also announced the the Honorary Secretary had resigned from the Executive Committee. ( I knew this already having received a copy by e-mail from the Hon.Sec. giving his reasons for resigning which were not good news). I will publish his resignation on the web site at an appropriate time. The Chairman then asked for the members to approve a resolution to suspend the rule pertaining to the delivery of AGM notices so that the meeting could proceed normally. The members agreed so the Rules of the Society have been broken. Quite what the Charity Commission will make of this I don't know. Then on top of this the Acting Chairman, during a break to elect the officers, approached me to ask if would be his friend. Readers of the 2015 e-mail dialogue might find this approach extraordinary especially as by this time he must have been aware of the information passed to the now resigned Honorary Secretary. He is now not only Honorary Treasurer as elected last year but also Acting Chairman and Acting Honorary Secretary at least until the next Executive Committee meeting. We will have to see how things transpire!
10th April 2016
Attended a meeting with concerned member group of QRS to discuss what can be done to save the Society from mismanagement. An extraordinary document has come to hand which was also discussed and it was decided that this should be sent without delay to the Honorary Secretary of the Society for the attention of the Trustees. It is not possible to give details of this document at present either to most of this group or the members in general.
5th April 2016
Just received another batch of paper from QRS in another flimsy envelope this time containing the missing minutes of the last AGM and a summary set of accounts. This is wrong we should have a set of fully audited accounts to appraise before the meeting in order to approve them with some understanding. I have also received an e-mail from the Hon. Secretary advising that the whole matter had been taken out of his hands.
4th April 2016
Looks like things are going pear shaped at the Quainton Railway Society at least as far as the arrangements for their Annual General meeting are concerned. Saturday saw the receipt of a flimsy envelope without postmark containing the Notice of the meeting for 16th April and a rather curt letter from the Acting Chairman, David Aplin, which some members have constrewed as threatening. The group of members I have been advising are very concerned. The fact is all f the paperwork for an AGM should be sent a least fourteen days prior to the meeting date. I have written to the Honorary Secretary about this matter in case he thinks I have all the missing details because my wife acted as Minutes Secretary at the last AGM.
10th February 2016
Managed to get all the second half of my Airships talk put together in time for the GT U3A January Technology Group meeting despite several other pressing engagements and an unexpected change to our Christmas arrangements. Ended up in Yorkshire for Christmas after a pretty traumatic ill advised hotel booking through ebookers which listed a dire hotel near Leeds as OK. My Son-in-Law, as a local lad, knew better and we found out the place was rotten in reputation and structure. It pays to check with Trip Advisor as well as ebookers own rating column. All went well in the end in a modern tower block hotel without much Christmas spirit, except in the office party goers, but the room was excellent.
I'm in the doghouse with the Trustees of the Quainton Railway Society again for acting like a Dutch Uncle with my unwelcome advice delivered by the web pages I manage for the members. We will have to see how it goes at their AGM but I am pessimistic as to any fundamental understanding on their part.
2nd January 2016
I have just taken over the responsibility of Group Leader for the GT U3A Technology Group. I now have to fix our programme for the rest of this year, pick up on the accounts to conform to U3A practice and read all the Coordinator's instruction packs. (What to do if an elderly member has a stroke during a meeting.)
The U3A (University of the Third Age) is a brilliant idea but somehow the original intent seems to be lost on a great many members who just want to turn up and be entertained, occupied for a couple of hours, have tea/coffee and biscuits then go shopping or join a lunch group for more company in the day. My lot seem genuinely interested in the presentations but I must encourage them all to participate by doing a bit of learning for themselves perhaps in pairs or threes together. Someone suggested a Raspberry Pie project as a couple of members have purchased these and don't quite know what to do with them.
I am also now the custodian of the second set of IT equipment that the GT U3A use for meetings so I have a large screen that does not fit into the car, a black shroud for use on bright days in the church, it comes with a set of scaffold to erect it around the screen plus the projector and laptop computed. There are other bits as well in mysterious bags that I will find out about later I expect.
1st November 2015
I have rather stupidly offered to give the November presentation to the GT U3A on my chosen subject of Balloons and Airships.entitled the Rise, Fall and Rise again of Balloons and Airships. I know a little about this history having had my original interest kindled by Neville Shute the author of many novels including A Town Like Alice and On The Beach both made into feature films. His autobiography "Slide Rule"revealed his real name to be Neville Shute Norway and he was by profession an aeronautical engineer and involved as the Stress Calculating Engineer on the airship R100 designed by Barnes Wallis and built by Vickers during the late 1920s. This airship was an almost complete success unlike it's counterpart the R101 build by Government Enterprise and which crashed in France after less than perfect testing.
It has been quite an interesting but time consuming exercise researching this subject going back to the Montgolfier brothers, the technology of Hot Air and then Hydrogen and how gravity pushes these gases upwards in favour of the heavier elements. I've been able to trace right through from early French involvement with gas balloons and later dirigible airships prior to the first world war. A name that leapt out of the pages but almost unknown to most people Alberto Santos-Dumont an eccentric multimillionaire Brazilian aviator before Count Von Zeppelin moved the technology onwards with rigid airship design. Most of this stuff can be found on the world Wide Web using google but her are a few sites worth a visit.
There is so much interesting stuff I have had to split the talk into three parts. I do the second part in January and another member will do the third part about modern Hot Air Recreational Ballooning in March. I've done quite a nice presentation so if any other U3As want to hear all about it I am willing to use the stuff again.
1st September 2015
Funny how one door shuts another door opens. My GT U3A Technology Group have just found out I am not doing so much for the Quainton Railway Society and the group leader has asked me to stand in for her while she is away in Florida for an extended holiday.
This is quite an active group and we are visiting the Oxford Bus Museum in September so I needed to get the transport sorted out. We are on holiday for a long weekend just before this event looking at the North West of England including Port Sunlight and the Anderton boat lift on the situated between the Trent and Mersey canal and the River Weaver close to Liverpool.
Built in 1875, the Anderton boat lift was in use for over 100 years until it was closed due to corrosion in 1983. During the 1990s British Waterways carried out preliminary investigations before launching a restoration bid. It was originally intended to restore the lift to electrical operation but after consultation with English Heritage, in 1997 it was decided to restore the lift to hydraulic operation using hydraulic oil instead of water as originally built to operate.Restoration started in 2001 and the boat lift was re-opened in 2002. The lift and associated visitor centre and exhibition are operated by the Canal & River Trust More information can be found using google or the Wikipeda site at:
So what's on my mind at present? Well I suppose my recent demise from the Quainton Railway Society where obstinate minded people dominate the fearsome against progressive change that would bring the society into the 21st century. Of course the majority of members never get to hear the full truth as most communications are redacted to cover the real rogues while supporters are lulled into complacently carrying on. Mind you active volunteer members are not all unaware of the problems associated with this organisation they just soldier on hoping for change that never comes. How many other volunteer organisations go on like this?
Volunteering is an admirable state of grace but too often those that accept the work and time volunteers contribute to society start to take these efforts for granted. This results in volunteers reluctantly voting with their feet and any organisation that ignore this fact will suddenly find the last remaining group of volunteers will collapse from being progressively put upon trying to cover the work the leavers have previously completed. This can be catastrophic and all the work done by people perhaps over many years will be put to waste whereas open minded organisers if they show encouragement and gratitude to their supporters will reap the benefits for charities or societies dependent upon this type of labour input.
I know some of my fellow Quainton volunteers will be eager to know why I am not among them today so I have put some pages together with audit trails of e-mails which may also illustrate to others just how not to be inclusive of all members contributions.