Image of a man addressing several people in a small tank.

“Now, Molly, what did I tell you about using my motor to pick up men?”

What would be your caption? Send it to the editor at [Email]

Photo by Richard Allen


Regional News

Firstly we have a goodbye this month as Merry Metcalf hands over the role of Derby LocSec; there’ll be a hello next month when we “Meet . . . Matthew Smith”, who is taking up the Derby reins. Many thanks to Merry for her contribution to East Midlands Mensa and for hosting a convivial get together at her home every month providing drinks and nibbles and some unusual games. Matthew is a young and fairly new member and those who attend the regular Derby event at the Standing Order pub will already know him. If you don’t, then please come along one month and say hello.

We are still seeking LocSecs to look after Hemel Hempstead (HP1-4 & WD), Leicester (LE), Lincoln (LN & PE20-25) and Luton (LU). Although these areas are already covered, the current LocSecs would like to step aside if a replacement could be found. The role is voluntary but does not need to be difficult nor time-consuming. As a minimum you are a contact for other members in your postcode area although it would be great if you could host the occasional event or encourage others to do so. If you’d like further details please contact me on [Phone Number] or [Email]

Did you know that East Midlands Mensa has an email group for advance notification of events like this and other announcements? To join simply send a blank email to [Email]. It’s a low traffic group so won’t clog up your inbox. Promise!

Our next regional event is a party night with free buffet, free bar and free disco in Nottinghamshire and takes place on Saturday 7th February 2009. Details are already on our web site at and will be in next month’s issue of Empress too. In the meantime I wish you all an enjoyable Christmas and hope to see you in the New Year.

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer

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.
photo of Jo Sidebottom

Mensans in MK & Bedford

On Thu 4th Dec at 8.00pm - FThOTM

First Thursday is at our regular venue of Jurys Inn on Midsummer Boulevard, on 4th December, from 8.00pm. Look for the Mblem in either the foyer or the bar – most likely the foyer as it’s quieter. Parking is a bit busy around Jurys and The Hub, so we usually try and get in across the road and then walk through the underpass.

On Sat 6th Dec at 3.00pm - T@3

T@3 seems fairly popular with MK folks, so we’re going to have a last one of the year on Saturday 6th December at Dobbie’s Garden Centre in Fenny Stratford, just south of Milton Keynes. It’s easily reached from the A5. We thought it would be a good opportunity to look at their Christmas display and perhaps buy some festive fare from their excellent food hall. Their restaurant may be busy, so look out for the Mblem or call my mobile if you can’t find us.

On Wed 17th Dec at 8.00pm - 3WOTM

Our Third Wednesday meeting at the Old Beams in Shenley Lodge is on 17th December. If you’re definitely planning to come, please let me know as it will help us to grab the right sized table, but don’t let that put you off deciding on the spur of the moment – you’ll still be welcome. See for location and menu details. You can eat or not, as you wish – their food is quite good and reasonably priced. Look around for the Mblem as we don’t always get the same table each time.

Finally, please note my new mobile number, [Phone Number]. I still have the old one as it’s my work phone, but the new one is now the best one to use.

Hope to see you there,

Jo Sidebottom

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] / [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Richard Allen

Hertfordshire Happenings

On Thu 4th Dec at 8.15pm - FThOTM

Our regular FThOTM meeting at the Millstream, Cambridge Road, Hitchin, will be on Thursday 4th December at 8.15pm. By this time I expect to be mobile again after my recent accident and confinement to "barracks"! Come and help me celebrate regaining my mobility! Good food and good beer both available! Call me for more details and encouragement. The pub is about ten minutes' walk from the railway station.

I’d like to take this opportunity of thanking all those who sent words of support while I was recovering from my accident – they were much appreciated.

Richard Allen

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Derby Diary

On Wed 17th Dec at 7.30pm - 3WOTM

And so the countdown begins ... I presume you've all done your cards ready for posting and all the pressies are wrapped? Me neither. To take your mind off it all, why not join us for our 3rd Wednesday meeting at the Standing Order in Derby on the 17th December any time from 7.30pm for a meal or just a drink if you prefer; just look for the yellow Mblem on one of the tables at the back. There's no 'at home' meeting this month as I won't be, at home that is, so please accept my apologies in advance. However, if you want some encouragement to come along to the Standing Order for some festive cheer, advertise a get together of your own or just want to say hello, then please call me at home or email me.

Merry Metcalf

photo of Sue Watford

Leicestershire Letter

On Sat 6th Dec at 10.30am - Museum Tour

On Saturday 6th December, a tour round the John Taylor Bell Foundry Museum has been arranged for 10.30am. This is now one of only two bell foundries still in production in the UK, and houses the only museum dedicated to the subject. The cost of the tour (including Museum admission) is £7.50 for adults and £3.50 for children from 6 to 16 years old; the tour lasts approximately an hour and a half, and the company emphasise that “strong shoes should be worn and we are not allowed to admit entry to anyone wearing open-toed sandals”. We did this tour many, many years ago, and it proved to be very popular. Please let me know as soon as possible if you are interested.

Sue Watford

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Jenny Habib


On Mon 15th Dec at TBD - Meeting

The last Wednesday of December is not possible for most of our members, so please e-mail or phone me for information about our meeting on Monday 15th December.

Happy Christmas, Everyone.

Jenny Habib

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

On Fri 5th Dec at 8.00pm - 5OTM

Just our two regular events earlier in the month as I’m sure everyone will be busy with their own social calendar in the run up to Christmas. Please join Kevin Bamford as he hosts our get together at the Vat & Fiddle pub from 8.00pm on Friday 5th December. We usually sit to the left of the bar although in recent months we have had to take a table round the corner to the right. Just look for the yellow Mblem or call Kev on [Phone Number] for directions. All welcome.

On Wed 10th Dec at 7.00pm - Chicks & Flicks

On Wednesday 10th join Paul Henchliffe for our regular “Chicks & Flicks” event. Meet at 7.00pm prompt inside the doors to the Cornerhouse. From there we’ll dine on chicken (making a change from the festive turkey!) at Nando’s before watching a film at Cineworld. There are free unlimited soft drinks at the restaurant and 2-4-1 tickets at the cinema for Cornerhouse card holders and Orange phone owners. To find out more contact Paul on [Phone Number] or [Email]

Suggestions are very welcome for things to do and places to visit within Nottinghamshire next year. Phone or email me - I would be delighted to hear from you.

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Jacquie Harrison


On Sat 6th Dec at 12:00 noon - FSaOTM

Christine Howells has offered to chair regular First Saturday of the Month meetings at the Lincoln Drill Hall. Join her at noon on Saturday 6th December in the Armoury Bar. This venue offers the chance to eat inexpensively or just have a coffee or drink whilst you talk. For more details please contact me, as below, or Christine at [Email]

All very welcome.

Jacquie Harrison

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] / [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Val Hinkins

Mid Bucks

On Thu 11th Dec at 7.30pm - Christmas Meal

Fit in some late night Christmas shopping and then join me for a meal at La Tasca in the Eden Centre at High Wycombe on Thursday 11th December at 7.30pm. Promising an authentic, vibrant taste of Spain, their special three-course Christmas menu at £17.95 per person (drinks extra) includes a selection of tapas dishes. Full details at Please let me know if you have any special dietary requirements, e.g. vegetarian. I will need to make a booking for the meal, so please contact me as soon as you can, and definitely by 30th November, to let me know you are coming.

Val Hinkins

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Ian Sargent

Northants NNotes

On Thu 4th Dec at 9.00pm - FThOTM

Our first meeting of the month is on Thursday 4th December and you have a second chance to sample the delights of the Malt Shovel in Bridge Street, Northampton.

On Thu 18th Dec at 8.00pm - Roadshow

The Roadshow meeting is on Thursday 18th December at 8.00pm and for the first time in nine months it returns to Kettering. The Talbot Inn in Meadow Road is where we'll be and you'll find us in the Lounge.

For both meetings a copy of the Mensa Mag will give away our position.

Ian Sargent

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] / [Mobile Number] for details

Luton & Dunstable

On Sat 20th Dec at 7.30pm - Christmas Eating Meeting

Our Christmas meal will be at the Brache Beefeater, Osborne Road, Luton, Bedfordshire LU1 3HJ , on Saturday 20th December – 7.30pm to eat at 8.30pm. Welcome to an evening of witty chat and repartee. All welcome, although spaces are limited.

Please be aware that I need a £5 deposit by 13th December at latest and they need to know our meal choices in advance. Please contact me right away about the menu please, as I have to let them know ASAP with it being one of busiest nights of year. Sorry for this inconvenience.

Please ring or email to reserve your place, and for the address to send the deposit, as numbers are limited. [Phone Number] ONLY on the night, if you get lost on the way please.

Les Draper Eames

Travels with Mensans – 2009 Calendar

Photo taken in Myanmar by Neil Harris (images in the calendar are in colour)

Building on the success of the travel writing anthology Travels with Mensans, Travel SIG has followed it up with a wall calendar featuring travel images from SIG members. As with Travels with Mensans, proceeds from sales of the calendar go to Médecins Sans Frontières (, which assists populations in distress and victims of man-made disasters and of armed conflict. Neil Matthews and Barry Needoff, who have created the calendar, comment:

“This beautiful and unique wall calendar will help you to keep travelling in 2009, even if you never leave home, and it makes the perfect travel gift. It features a selection from the best and most distinctive images published in VISA, the SIG newsletter, and some images which are being published in colour for the first time. As with the travel writing anthology, we are grateful to those members who have kindly given permission for us to use their images.”

The Calendar is just £6.99 / €10.21 plus p&p from

Travel of a different kind

The Helicopter Pilot's Companion. A manual for helicopter enthusiasts.

Mensan Helen Krasner lives near Ashbourne in Derbyshire, and her latest book, The HelicopterPilot’s Companion, has recently been published; this book covers a whole range of subjects concerning rotary aviation including common myths about flying helicopters, choosing a flying school and an instructor, the basics of rotary aerodynamics, and all practical aspects of learning to fly helicopters. The book is published by Airlife for £12.99.

Helen writes, “You can obtain it from Amazon or any bookshop. However, I will be acting as a wholesaler and selling signed copies to anyone who wants them, UK postage free (email me for overseas postage).”

Helen may be contacted at [Email]

Richard Allen Reviews

Teddy bear in a model model T Ford.

This month our Hertford LocSec extols the pleasures of a regular country event.

Those who have not been to the annual Bedfordshire Steam and Country Fair, held at Old Warden each September - you don't know what you're missing.

This event truly has something for everyone, including displays by a vintage aeroplane, fairground organs, falconry, steam rollers, sheepdog demonstrations, you name it! Furthermore, the three Mensans who did go this year were blessed with very fine weather - so totally unlike this summer! My only problem was that the battery on my camera ran out! It is an all-day event - you need to be there all day to see everything, especially if you wish to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Shuttleworth vintage aeroplane collection or the Swiss Garden, both of which are included in the admission price.

There were a number of displays during the day, including miniature traction engines, full-sized engines and vintage military vehicles.

The highlight of the event, though, just had to be the radio-controlled car. Not any old car, oh no, but a 1/4 scale model of a Ford Model T, with teddy bear driver! Will they be back next year?

Words, Words, Wonderful Words

Aren’t words wonderful? Only 26 different letters to work with but, depending on their arrangement, they can evoke a wide range of feelings in their reader; they can sadden, gladden or madden; they can frustrate, irritate or alienate; they can enthuse, confuse or amuse.

A question in October’s back page quiz, “What does the award DCMG stand for?” reminded Gerald Sandison of a “Yes, Prime Minister” exchange:

“In “Yes Prime Minister”, Bernard Woolley was explaining to Jim Hacker the honours awarded to members of the Diplomatic Service. His explanation was (roughly):

Bernard: Well take the Foreign Office; first you get the CMG then the KCMG then the GCMG. The Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Commander of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of Saint Michael and Saint George. Of course in the Service CMG stands for Call Me God and KCMG for Kindly Call Me God. Jim: What does GCMG stand for? Bernard: God Calls Me God.”

Gerald also sent me this:

“This may appeal to fans of “I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue”. I want to recommend a pocket dictionary for a student that I'm working with so I went into the local WH Smith to see what might be most suitable. There on the reference shelves, nestling among the Oxford and Collins books, was the Uxbridge English Dictionary! I took a peep at the first entry - Acapulco: a Mexican clarinet player - and reverently placed it back on the shelves between the other reference books.”

What words have an effect on you? They could be a particularly moving poem, an irritating shop sign, an especially good joke, or whatever else you’d care to share. Please send them to the editor at [Email] for inclusion in future copies of Empress. Thanks.

20 Questions (No. 87)

Answers from the October quiz were 20th September 1967, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carpathia, right, Atlantic Ocean, Livorno, port out starboard home, Kathy Bates, Falklands War, baked alaska, Long Beach in California, medical, lifeboat drill, 1962, 7 or more, leeward, James Martin, pilot, Harland & Wolff and Cunard. Entries were received from Geraldine Ellis of Nottingham, Roger Lord of Aylesbury, Michael Warren of Derby, Mary Piper of London, Richard Pecout of Hertfordshire, Pamela Covey of Woburn, Steve Percy of Leicester and Chris Impey of Hertfordshire with Chris winning the £10 voucher.

This month we have a pantomime themed quiz. Oh yes, we do! Please send your entries to ‘20 Questions (No. 87)’, [Address], to arrive by 13th December (publisher’s Christmas deadlines mean an earlier date than usual) stating whether you prefer to receive a £10 voucher valid on food/drink/days out/accommodation or one valid on books.

1. What high office does Dick Whittington achieve?

2. In theatre a ‘star trap’ is an alternative name for what?

3. Which girls name was created for the Peter Pan story?

4. In Cinderella what is the name of Prince Charming’s servant?

5. Aladdin is set in which country?

6. Which pantomime is based on an old English ballad called ‘The Norfolk Gentleman’s Last Will And Testament’?

7. In the world of pantomime, what type of animal is Priscilla?

8. The first act in which pantomime features a magic mirror and wicked queen?

9. Which pantomime was the first to be produced in America in 1786?

10. Author J M Barrie donated his royalties from Peter Pan to which hospital?

11. What is the name of the cow taken to market in Jack And The Beanstalk?

12. Since the 19th century pantomimes should traditionally open on which day of the year?

13. It is tradition that fairies enter the stage from which side – stage left or stage right?

14. Which characters were originally called Clorinda and Thisbe?

15. In early pantomime, what was the name of Harlequin’s lover?

16. Mother Goose lays eggs made of what?

17. Which French author originally wrote the pantomime Sleeping Beauty?

18. Widow Twankey is the mother of which pantomime character?

19. Which pantomime features the line ‘I smell the blood of an Englishman’?

20. Which is the most popular pantomime in the UK?