Eurovision Party Review

Picture of the group, dressed in a range national costumes.

Saturday 12th May and time for Andy and me to host our 3rd Eurovision Song Contest Party at our home in Nottinghamshire. Among the 20 guests we had honorary Irishman Stewart and French girl Christine to give the event an international flavour as well as welcoming a couple of new faces. The house was decorated with national flags, Russian dolls and Union Jack memorabilia and the buffet table was piled high with European foods. There were cheeses from England, Ireland, France, Denmark and the Netherlands, olives, feta salad, humous and pitta bread from Greece, blinis from Russia, nachos from Spain, peri-peri dip from Portugal, pizza from Italy, herring spread from Sweden (well, Ikea actually!) and pastries from Denmark. For those guests with a sweet tooth we had contributions of German biscuits, Irish chocolates, Swiss roll, Turkish delight and Maltesers. Newlyweds Lesley and Geoff even brought some of their amazing wedding cake to share.

The costumes were equally as impressive with Austrian lederhosen, Bavarian kellergirl dresses, Irish hats, Turkish scarves, Spanish sombreros and T-shirts stating various country names. Special mention should go to Lesley and Geoff who once again dressed as the UK entry - air stewards and stewardesses!

Some guests watched the contest from start to end, some stayed in the kitchen to chat and others flitted between the two. For those glued to the TV, I provided a food and drink service. Well, I had to force-feed people somehow to get rid of the food mountain! The programme was, of course, as cheesy as ever and the political voting even more blatantly obvious. Thank goodness Malta are still our friends and awarded the UK douze points! As usual we ran a sweepstake at £1 per go. I drew Ireland who came last but Lesley Walker (nee Gorlov) was luckier having drawn the winner Serbia. We decided half way through the contest that the sweepstake winner, like the real winner, should host the Eurovision party next year. So we look forward to a trip to Newark in May 2008!

After the TV was switched off we played some Eurovision hits from the 70s and 80s and I announced the winner of my fun Eurovision trivia quiz. Having disqualified Leah because of cheating, I think Nigel was horrified to be declared the winner of such a naff quiz! Then there was more eating, drinking and general merriment. The European drinks, apart from wine, included a German liqueur with blood oranges and herbs, San Miguel beer, a Sicilian lemon liqueur, sangria and Dutch advocaat. With the latter I introduced Christine to the taste of snowballs!

As usual, the evening ended with some of us jumping into the hot tub in the garden. It really didn't matter that we made noise as my neighbour was at the party! Thank you to everyone who came along and made it a fun evening, particularly those who had made a long journey. Roll on Eurovision 2008!

Maxine Bates

Regional News

At the time of writing our "Blood Donor Week" had just finished and I had received a few proof of donation slips with hopefully more to follow. Thanks to everyone who supported this event by either donating blood, confirming they donate regularly so could not take part during our designated week, or who just got in touch to say they are unable to donate due to various reasons but wished us well with this incentive. The thank you gift for every member taking part in "Blood Donor Week" was a lottery ticket. Hopefully it has made one of you a millionaire or at least a little richer! The National Blood Donor Service were thrilled with our support and issued press releases to a dozen newspapers in the East Midlands region. All good publicity for Mensa too!

Also at the time of writing places for our regional "Open Day" in July with activities, guest speakers and a hot buffet were selling well and hopefully next months issue of Empress will feature a review of this event. Many members have commented what good value the "Open Day" is so hopefully we are spending our regional budget wisely by subsidising such events. But if you think differently your comments are always welcome. Please make them either to myself, any LocSec or Empress Editor.

We are already planning more regional events for 2008 so here are some dates for your new diary. On Saturday 23rd February there will be "A Taste Of India" event taking place at The Brant Inn, Groby, Leicester. This will include a private lesson by one of the UK's top Indian dance teachers to learn both folk and Bollywood style steps. Suitable for males and females of all ages. No dance experience nor high degree of fitness necessary - it's just for fun. In the evening there will be an eat-all-you-like curry buffet followed by a disco. I'm also hoping to arrange a workshop in Indian head massage. Watch this space and see as details are finalised. The Brant Inn has limited, but excellent value, accommodation for anyone wishing to stay over and all bedrooms are being reserved for Mensa members.

Jo Sidebottom and myself are currently arranging the Milton Keynes Weekend to be held 23rd-26th May 2008, which is the late May bank holiday. This will be based at the Holiday Inn in central Milton Keynes where we have negotiated some excellent deals on both accommodation and meals. The weekend will have a transport and travel theme. Often Milton Keynes is ridiculed as being full of roundabouts and concrete cows, so come along and let us show you what interesting places and activities can be found in and around this 'new' town. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Don't forget we still have a vast array of local events such as pub socials, restaurant meals, walks, concerts and much more. See the pages of Empress, event listings in Mensa Magazine or our web site for full details. Enjoy the British or Scottish Annual Gatherings if you are attending them this month!

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer

Travels with Mensans

Picture of the book cover showing a phrenological head augmented with names of geographic regions, over a stamped passport page.

Two East Midlands members, and former EMPRESS editors, have joined forces with over 40 other Mensans in a new anthology of travel writing.

Neil Matthews is co-editor of Travels with Mensans, which includes articles and photos by members of Travel SIG covering a wide range of travel locations and issues. The contributors include Helen Matthews, who has written about Crete and Rye.

Travels With Mensans is on sale at priced £7.99 + postage. Net proceeds from sales go to Médecins Sans Frontières (, an international humanitarian charity.

There is a special launch event at the Holiday Inn Regents Park, London W1 on Sunday 12 August at 2.00pm. Entry to this event, which is part of the 2007 AG, is free. Call Diane on 01902 772771 or see for details.

Neil Matthews

Editor, VISA - newsletter of TravelSIG

Events and Meetings

In the current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus, the expectation is that all non-online events listed here are susceptible to being cancelled, if not already marked as such. If you intend participating in any event listed here, please contact the event organiser beforehand to confirm that the event is still on.

Notts News

On Sun 5th Aug at 8:00pm - 5OTM

Our regular get together is at the Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Roadon Sunday 5th. What better way to round off the weekend than with a drink and chat with Mensa friends? New faces are always welcome. Find us to the left of the bar.

On Wed 8th Aug at 7:00pm - Chicks and Flicks

We meet at 7.00 pm prompt for "Chicks & Flicks" inside the main doors to the Cornerhouse complex. From there we buy tickets for a later film at Cineworld before dining at Nando's peri-peri chicken restaurant around the corner. There are usually enough of us with Orange mobile phones to get 2-4-1 cinema tickets for everyone. Cornerhouse card holders also get 10% discount or free drink (offer changes monthly) at Nando's which makes it a full night out for under a tenner. Contact Paul on [Phone Number] or [Email] for further info.

On Fri 17th Aug at 7:00pm - Greyhound Racing

It's our annual trip to the dogs on Friday 17th meeting outside the entrance to Nottingham Greyhound Stadium in Colwick at 7.00 pm. The group package costs just £10 per person and includes admission, race card, pie and pea supper, two drinks (Carling, Reef or J2O) and £2 worth of tote bets. You may even pay for your night out with winnings! Please book your place with me on [Phone Number] by 3rd August. Under 18s are welcome but cannot participate in the group offer.

On Tue 28th Aug at 7:30pm - Postcode Pubcrawl

The last few months have seen the "Postcode Pubcrawl" regulars travelling to far flung areas of the county so on Tuesday 28th we're staying more central and will be visiting The Chesterfield Arms, Main Road, Gedling which has an NG4 postcode. Join us from 7.30 pm for a drink. Food is served until 8.30 pm and there's a fun quiz later. Can anyone suggest a good venue with an NG23 postcode?

On Sat 1st Sep at 4:00pm - Pamper Party

Following the success of my pamper party in June we're doing it again on 1st September. Come along to my home in Langley Mill for a treatment by a qualified beautician including manicures, pedicures, waxing, facials, massages and more at very reasonable prices. The event will start at 4.00 pm and continue into the evening with pampering, food, drink and chat. See for full list of treatments. Booking is essential by 29th August please. I'm on [Phone Number] or [Email]

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates


On Sat 11th Aug at 12:00pm - Lunch

The meeting returns to the city this month. Join us for lunch, lots of chat and hopefully some fun at Tootsie's restaurant on Brayford Wharf North at 12 noon on Saturday 11th August. It's American style and recommended. Please contact me on [Phone Number] if you need more details or encouragement - it would also be helpful to have an idea of numbers. Everyone welcome.

Jacquie Harrison

Derby Doings

On Wed 15th Aug at 7:30pm - 3WOTM

I can no longer ask people to look for us in the non-smoking area of the Standing Order, since that now covers the whole pub, so will newcomers please look for us in the area at the back past the bar. Better still 'phone or email me beforehand.

On Wed 22nd Aug at 8:00pm - Pub Evening

I would very much like to meet some members from the Ripley area at the Red Lion on the Market Square but I'm going to check out the television ready for the rugby World Cup in September, anyway, because I've decided it's cheaper to watch one in a pub than buy one just for a couple of month's rugby. Any television enthusiasts welcome to convince me of the error of my ways? More info on [Phone Number] or [Email]

Bernie Briggs


On Wed 22nd Aug at 8:00pm - Pub

Join me at The Star in Thrussington for drinks and a chat or for a few games of pool on Wednesday 22nd August at 8.00pm. Look for the familiar faces or the magazine on the table! New members welcome. Please let me know you are coming along by Monday 20th August [Email] or [Phone Number].

Rebecca Mawby

MK & Bedford

On Thu 2nd Aug at 8:00pm - FTh: Movable Feast

Join us at MK's new Café Rouge in The Hub, behind Jury's Hotel on Midsummer Blvd/Witan Gate. See for location/menu/prices. Booking essential by Tuesday 31st - [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number].

On Wed 15th Aug at 7:00pm - 3WOTM

Join us at Starbucks coffee shop in Borders bookshop by the Hockey Stadium (Portway / Grafton St roundabout). As they now close earlier, we will be meeting earlier. Look out for the Mblem - don't forget to check the comfy chairs round the corner! Contact details as above.

Jo Sidebottom

High Wycombe & Amersham

On Thu 16th Aug at 8:00pm - Italian Restaurant

Join us at L'Artista in Frogmoor. We can compare Summer holiday notes or discuss cricket or whatever. Please let me know by Tue 14 if you plan to come. Tel [Phone Number] or email [Email]

On Mon 27th Aug at 2:00pm - Visit to Manor House

Chenies Manor is a beautiful Tudor Manor House accompanied by picturesque gardens with two mazes, ample parking, cream teas and light refreshments. N.B. No disabled access to the Manor House. Details at which provides useful information and directions. Call Alistair on [Phone Number] for encouragement.

I am grateful to local members that have come forward with ideas for meetings but would welcome other suggestions. I hope everyone is enjoying the Summer. Don't forget the sun cream!

Alistair Blackett


On Wed 29th Aug at 7:45pm - Pub

We meet at the White Horse Pub, Bourne End, on the Hemel Hempstead Road (the old A 41) half way between Hemel and Berkhamsted. Do come and drink, eat or just join us for a quiet chat.

Jenny Habib

Northants NNotes

On Thu 2nd Aug at 9:00pm - 2ThOTM Pub

Due to events elsewhere our meeting at the Fox & Hounds in Harlestone is on the 1st Thursday rather than the 2nd Thursday this month. So, if you want to catch up with all the gossip don't get caught out by the change of date.

On Sat 18th Aug at 11:00am - Walk

A chance to explore the Northamptonshire countryside with a 4½ circular walk out from the village of Rushton, including a view of the famous triangular lodge. Meet outside the Thornhill Arms, on the junction of Station Road and the High Street. After you've worked up an appetite we'll return to the pub for lunch so bring a change of footwear. Whatever you do, don't go looking for us in Rushden; you want the village a few miles north of Kettering, not the town a few miles east of Wellingborough.

On Wed 29th Aug at 8:00pm - Roadshow

The roadshow moves to another new venue this month: The White Swan, Main Street, Holcot. The village is a mile or so north of the A43, between Northampton and Kettering and you'll find us in the room to the right of the front door.

To find us at both venues look for the Mensa mag on one of the tables. Details from [Phone Number] or [Email].

Ian Sargent

Luton & Dunstable

On Sat 11th Aug at 12:00pm - Picnic, Fun, and Games excursion

David Onyett is hosting this year's Annual LU postcode area Picnic, Fun, and Games excursion in Wendover Woods, Aylesbury, Bucks, which was previously organised by Tara Morgan. Please bring picnic & drinks to share and sense of humour, plus games equipment! Event starts at noon.

Please contact David ASAP for directions and encouragement on [Email][Phone Number] or mobile [Phone Number] on the day. We need to know if you are coming, in case of changes due to adverse weather etc. All welcome!

Les Draper Eames


On Thu 2nd Aug at 7:30pm - FThOTM

Join us for our regular First Thursday of the month at the Millstream, Cambridge Road, Hitchin (about five minutes' walk from the station). Good food and beer (and company!) always available. Call me on [Phone Number] for details and encouragement.

On Sat 4th Aug at 11:00am - Day out and pub lunch

Join us for a leisurely day's sightseeing and a pub lunch in this, the most delightful of Home Counties cathedral cities, St Albans. We'll meet at 11 for elevenses and decide what we're going to do, although I'm sure the cathedral and the Verulam Roman museum will be high on the list! Call me on [Phone Number] for details and encouragement. St Albans is on the Bedford - Luton - London - Brighton "Thameslink" line and can also be reached from Watford Junction (for stations on the Euston-Milton Keynes line). There are also regular bus services from Hatfield (for stations on the Kings Cross-Peterborough and Cambridge line).

On Wed 8&22 Aug at 8:30pm - Pub Quiz

We're now doing the quiz fortnightly at the Millstream, Cambridge Road, Hitchin (about five minutes' walk from the station); please call Richard on [Phone Number] for details and encouragement. Food and good beer are available! The quiz starts around 8.30 but we're usually there from 7.30 for a meal.

Richard Allen

On Fri 31st Aug at 8:00pm - LFOTM

Join us in the lounge (or the garden, if the weather's fine!) of the White Horse, Hertingfordbury to chill out at the end of the month - look for the mag and Mblem. Ring Gwen on [Phone Number] for details and encouragement. (Richard's away this month!) The hotel is about 20 minutes' walk from Hertford North station. Meals are available.

Richard Allen/Gwen Jones

Midges, Maps And Muesli

Picture of the front cover of the book, with Helen standing by a sign post at John O'Groats with pointers to Land's end and other distant places.

Some of you will know of the book I wrote about my 5000 mile walk round the coast of Britain, *MIDGES, MAPS AND MUESLI*. Well, it's just about to be republished. It sold out...which I believe is pretty unusual for a self-published book. But people seemed to like it, and it had some good reviews on Amazon, which probably helped. One lady even phoned me mid-afternoon to say she'd started it that morning, but been unable to put it down, so she wasn't even dressed yet! So I guess it can't be that bad.

I should have copies of the new edition on June 21st, if all goes well. It's the same as the original, except that there is an additional chapter, "An Update" describing what I did afterwards - moving to Wales, learning to fly, becoming a helicopter instructor, moving to the Peak District etc. This was added due to the number of people who asked me, "So what happened next?". So I've told them.

The new book will be on sale in the usual places in due course, for £9.95. You may still find the original version on Amazon cheaper than this, but don't believe it, as I've none left! But they don't know that yet.

However, for a limited period I will be selling it for *£8.95, postage free*. And you can have it signed too; just let me know what you'd like written in it.

You can get your copy from me in two ways:

*EITHER send a cheque for £8.95 per copy made out to "Helen Krasner" to me at [Address]

*OR send me an email and pay by PayPal using this email address [Email]

And I hope you enjoy reading it.

Helen Krasner

Moments of Madness (Part 2)

Tuesday 8th May: Ring, ring... "Hello, I've got a booking for today. Any chance?" "No, sorry it's too windy."

Thursday 17th May: Ring, ring... "Hello, I've got a booking for today. Any chance?" "No, sorry it's too wet."

Monday 21st May: Ring, ring... "Hello, I've got a booking for today. Any chance?" "Yes, come on over."

So it was that I arrived at Sywell airfield just to the east of Northampton for something that I'd wanted to do for a long time - a microlight flight courtesy of a long-service award at work. With an two-seater open cockpit chassis hanging from what is basically a hang-glider wing these small machines are dependant on decent weather conditions, hence the first two postponements.

After an introduction to the microlight it was time to get kitted up with a jump suit and balaclava. Once I'd helped to get the aircraft out of the hanger and turned round to face the runway I was strapped into the passenger seat and the rest of my flight kit was fitted: earphones & mic, crash helmet, gloves. My pilot got into his seat in front of me and did the pre-flight checks. We had to wait a few minutes for the engine to reach its operating temperature and for a couple of light aircraft to take off ahead of us; finally the control tower gave us clearance to head out onto the grass airstrip.

Take off was remarkable quick and smooth, and we were soon climbing up to 3,000 feet and heading east towards Wellingborough. At this height you can see for miles, but there is still sufficient detail on the ground to identify local landmarks. I had been looking forward to this for some months and with all new experiences there is the possibility that the reality is nothing like you had expected. In this instance I can say that it was exactly how I had imagined it so I was able to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Due to a ban on loose objects (evidently they hurt if they fall out and hit someone on the ground) I wasn't able to take a camera up with me, which was the only disappointment. Air traffic restrictions also meant that we weren't able to fly directly over towns. However, on the outskirts of Wellingborough we picked up the Nene Valley and followed it west to Northampton. As the river passes quite close to where I live we were able to follow it through to that area (ooh look, there's my house!). From there we headed north and finally south-east back to the airfield.

After circling round to lose a bit of height and allow another plane in ahead of us the landing was just as smooth as the take off. All too quickly the half-hour was up and we were back at the hanger. It was an exciting experience but did not feel at all unsafe. That belies the title of this article, which was prompted by the reactions of some of my friends when I told them what I was going to do. If you're not scared of heights and you are looking for a new experience I'd suggest that you give it a go. There are several microlight companies around the country but if you are anywhere near Northampton then Flylight are thoroughly recommended (

Ian Sargent

For anyone wondering, Ian's New Zealand bungy jump was Moment of Madness part 1 which appeared in Empress in November 2005.

Think Tank

This month's think tank is courtesy of Andy Farrell from Nottingham.

What law would you introduce if you could?
... and which would you repeal?
Our implementation of the Treaty of Rome, et al. We don't need to fund a corrupt bureaucracy like the EU in order to stay at peace with our neighbours. The world has turned and what we were sold in fear of war is no longer suitable. Time to modernise.
Which charity do you most like to support?
Most often Cancer Research - everyone has a loved one who has been touched by that. And then sometimes Mountain Rescue teams - I enjoy the hills and I sometimes see the great work they do.
Name a place local to you that you'd recommend people visit
Crich Stand - the Sherwood Foresters monument is a tower you can climb, and perched on this hilltop near Ripley in Derbyshire you get a view of the limestone terrain of the Derbyshire valleys rising over to the low plateau which is Sherwood Forest, and in the distance the vale of Trent. Good place to get a grasp of the east midlands topology.
Whose picture would you like to see on a bank note?
Wallace & Gromit.
What device would you like to see invented?
Teleport booths. No-one need ever fly cattle class again!
Who would you like to see in the Big Brother house?
Marcus Bentley. (The Geordie who does the Big Brother voiceover - "Day Eeet in ther Big Bruther Howse".)
How would you reform parliament?
Restore the House of Lords. It was a great check on overbearing governments until New Labour started monkeying with it..
How can we save the planet?
We don't need to get all "hair shirt" about it and lose our lifestyle, some relatively easy changes would make all the difference. For example, cars. We're likely to be filling up with biodiesel in a few years, the problem being to grow enough of it. (It works on existing diesel cars just fine, and can be made from various crops - rapeseed, algae, even waste vegetable oil from your local chippy.) If people switched to smaller cars that would be enough that we could produce all we need - so drive a Smart and save the planet. :-)
What song would make a good national anthem for England?
I object to the question - I think of myself as British and dislike attempts to fragment the United Kingdom. Now, if you'd like to talk about adopting a better *British* national anthem...
What would you like see entered into room 101?
Suggest a new question for this page.
Three places to see before you die.Glencoe, South Cliff in Scarborough, and any of the high mountain summits in the Lake District on a clear day.

20 Questions No 69 Answers and Winners

The Derbyshire place names were Winster, Little Longstone, Clay Cross, Holymoorside, Bakewell, Flagg, Shottle, Turnditch, Wirksworth, Matlock, Ashover, Stanton, Marehay, Blackbrook, Holloway, Duffield, Carsington, Crich, Denby and Youlgreave. Entries were received from J E Green of St Albans, Tanya Whitehead of Nottingham, Alex Foster of Derby, Marianne Croll of Derby, Rita Beeson of Kempston, Ann Watson of Nottingham, Marilyn Clark of Nottingham, Sue Pearson of Winslow, Pamela Covey of Woburn, Mike Hadley of Lutterworth, Don Foster of Nottinghamshire, Andy Cole of Cleethorpes, Paul Henchliffe of Nottingham and Geraldine Reeks of Derbyshire with Marianne winning a Mensa ambigram mug. The clue "wealthy receives an additional hundred" seemed to flummox some people and the answer is derived from the word rich with the Roman numeral for 100 as a prefix.

Mike Fitzgibbon - Obituary

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Mike Fitzgibbon from Lincolnshire.

Andy Farrell writes: Mike was a popular figure well known at Mensa gatherings - looking through my photo albums I've happy memories of holidaying with him in places as varied as St Kitts and Norway, and the entertaining but thoughtful double-act which Mike and June made will be much missed. Mike died suddenly at home on Friday 29th June, and we'd like to extend our love and sympathies to his wife June and all their family.

20 Questions (No. 71)

This month's quiz is set by Alistair Blackett and the answers are all surnames of footballers who played in the 1966 World Cup. Send your answers to '20 Questions (No. 71)', [Address] to arrive by 20th August for your chance to win a Mensa mug.

1. American female vocalist whose top UK hit was "Keep the customers satisfied" in 1970.

2. Popular character in the British sitcom Dads Army played by John Le Mesurier.

3. British Prime Minister who succeeded Harold Wilson in 1976.

4. South London professional football team who play at the Valley.

5. London underground station on the District and Hammersmith and City lines between Barking and Upton Park.

6. The second most populous town on the Isle of Man.

7. Ben ------ played on the wing in England's historic World Cup Rugby winning team in 2003.

8. Long term host of The Sky At Night and also an accomplished xylophone player.

9. Irish broadcaster and actor who presented the Late Late Show from 1962 to 1999.

10. His hits recorded with Dianne Lee included "Welcome home" and "Don't stay away too long".

11. American thriller writer whose books include "The Black Echo" and "The Black Ice".

12. West Midlands brewery now a part of Marston PLC.

13. English political philosopher who published the pamphlet "Common Sense" in 1776 which argued for the independence of Britain's American colonies.

14. British journalist, broadcaster and author who publishes his own "The Good Guide To The Lakes".

15. A type of party usually quite formal and often associated with universities, hunts, the military and indeed Mensa. More popularly with Cinderella.

16. Berkshire village just south of Twyford which hosted a horse show and country fair in June.

17. Normally you would buy these at a florist.

18. Isle of Wight based musician who previously recorded with "The Four Good Reasons".

19. Former Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper whose brother also played professional football. Peter ------.

20. American actress whose filmography includes "10 things I hate about you" and "Hamlet".