An abstract photo, squares and circles intersecting in garish colours with a central four way motif.
This month, some abstract art, because ... well why not? It’s called “Contrasting Colours”.

Regional News

Hot on the heels of our joint East and West Midlands Mensa event at Twycross Zoo we have a Regional Day at the Holiday Inn M1 J18. As it’s taking place on Saturday 4th July there will be an American theme. Tickets cost a bargain £12.50 each for an afternoon and evening of entertainment including three course hot buffet meal. Details appeared in last months issue of Empress and can be found at . If you’d like to join us please check availability with me on [Phone Number] or [Email]

One of the guest speakers at our Regional Day is Elaine Yates and she is also hosting a new event in Watford on Wednesday 22nd July. If you live in that area and would like to get more involved please do go along to the Essex Arms in Langley Way from 8.00 pm to say hello to Elaine and meet other members.

One of our recent winners of a £10 book token tells me she spent her prize on a Rumpole omnibus by John Mortimer and that the book comes highly recommended. If you’re a past winner, how did you spend your prize? And if you were a winner in the future what would you choose? Also let me know if you would like to see something other than book tokens as our competition prize.

Hope to see you on 4th July!

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer


You will have noticed in the the June issue and again in this one, an announcement of a happy event, last month an engagement, this time, a silver wedding anniversary. Do you have a “member moment” that you’d like to see announced in Empress. If so please let Maxine or either of the editors know what you want it to say, and we’ll see that it appears here.

Mea Culpa

There have been couple of mistakes that have crept into the event listings in the past couple of months, relating to the dates and times of the meetings.

These were entirely my fault in transcribing the information into Empress, and I apologise to Richard, Jo, and anyone misled by the information provided. I will endeavour to do better in the future.

Front Page

Thanks go to my sister-in-law Carol for the front page artwork.

Nick Stimpson

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 Jacquie Harrison

Lively Lincs

On Sat 4th Jul at 12:00pm - Conversations over lunch/drinks

I hope that you are all enjoying a great summer by the time you read this. Christine will be hosting the regular first Saturday of the month lunchtime meeting in the Drill Hall cafe (Armoury Bar), Free School Lane on Saturday 4th July at noon. She usually manages to get the table furthest from the (good) live background music - look for the magazine. There is a bar, coffee and light lunches. Come and join in, all very welcome. For more details/encouragement please contact Christine at [Email].

Jacquie Harrison

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

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

At our May get together we enjoyed a large chocolate cake to celebrate both a 40th birthday and 2nd wedding anniversary on that day. We can’t promise goodies this month but why not pop along to the Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Road from 8.00 pm on Sunday 5th for a drink and chat? New faces are always welcome and we can usually be found to the left of the bar.

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

On Wednesday 8th we have our ‘chicks and flicks’ event. Meet us at 7.00 pm inside the doors to the Cornerhouse in the city centre. From there we’ll dine at Nando’s Portuguese chicken restaurant (with an increasing number of veggie options) before watching a film at Cineworld. If you have a Cornerhouse card or Orange mobile phone please bring them along for discounts at both venues. Contact Paul on [Phone Number] or [Email] for details.

On Fri 24th Jul at 7:00pm - Greyhound Racing

Our annual trip to Nottingham Greyhound Stadium at Colwick will be on Friday 24th. The group package costs £10 per person and includes entrance, race card, pie and pea supper, one drink (Carling, Reef or J20) and two bets. This is usually a fun and sometimes profitable night out. Please book with me by 10th July. Families are welcome. Under 18s are not able to participate in the group package due to alcohol and betting laws but can pay at the gate. We’ll be meeting at 7.00 pm.

On Tue 28th Jul at 7:30pm - Eating meeting

At 7.30 pm on Tuesday 28th we are making a return visit to Ma Hubbards in Edwinstowe for this months ‘eating meeting’. I will need to book a table so please let me know if you’d like to join us by 24th. The prices are very reasonable and portions quite large! Afterwards we can take a moonlit stroll to view the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest.

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Derby Diary

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

Our regular 3WotM meeting at the Standing Order in Derby falls on Wednesday 15th. Join us for a meal or just a drink and some great conversation from 7.30pm. Look out for the yellow Mblem on a long table in the area just beyond the bar. Contact me as above for more details/directions.

On Sun 26th Jul afternoon - Clay pigeon shooting

At the end of the month we are returning to Kegworth Shooting Ground for another afternoon of clay pigeon shooting on Sunday 26th. Full safety equipment and expert tuition by experienced instructors provided. If you think you would like to give it a try but are unsure about what to expect please feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to answer any queries you may have. Family and friends are very welcome Please let me know by 19th July if you would like to come so I can book you a place.

As always it would be great to hear from you if you have any suggestions for future meetings or events, or if you would like to advertise one of your own.

Matthew Smith

photo of Sue Watford

Leicestershire Letter

On Sat 25th Jul at 7:30pm - Indoor bowls

Indoor bowls at the Melton Mowbray bowling club, followed by a meal there. The cost is £1.25 to play for one hour. Please note that a dress code applies. No jeans are allowed there.

Sue Watford

photo of Ian Sargent

On Thu 2nd Jul at 9:00pm - FThOTM

Hopefully the summer is turning out to be a good one. Find out what we’ve been up to so far by joining us at the Fox & Hounds in Harlestone on Thursday 2nd July from 9pm. Our May walk went well so we’re hoping to organise another in the next month or so - if you’ve got any suggestions for a stroll through the Northants countryside come along tonight and tell us.

On Thu 21st Jul at 8:00pm - Roadshow

Our second meeting for the month is the Roadshow. It will be on Tuesday 21st July at 8pm and we are paying a return visit to the Overstone Arms at Pytchley. We’ll be in the bar area so don’t go looking for us in the restaurant!!

For both meetings a copy of the Mensa Mag will show you where we are sitting.

Ian Sargent

Congratulations to former Luton LocSec Tara Morgan and her husband Mark who celebrate their silver wedding anniversary this month.
photo of Jo Sidebottom

Mensans In MK and Bedford

On Thu 2th Jul at 8:00pm - FThOTM

First Thursday is at our regular venue of Jury’s Inn on Midsummer Boulevard, on 2nd July, from 8 pm. Look out for the Mblem in either the foyer or the bar – most likely the foyer as it’s quieter. Parking is a bit busy around Jury’s and The Hub, so we usually try and get in across the road and then walk through the underpass.

On Wed 15th Jul at 8:00pm - 3WOTM

Our Third Wednesday meeting at the Old Beams in Shenley Lodge is back to normal this month, on 15th July. 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.

On Sat 25th Jul at 11:15am - Country walk

Finally this month, another walk in the fresh air, on Saturday 25th July. This time we thought we’d try Marston Vale Country Park, just off the A421 between M1 J13 and Bedford. We will meet in the main car park at 11.15 am - look for the Mblem, or let me know you’re coming so we can look out for you. The nearest station is Stewartby, on the Bletchley-Bedford line. The walking route is a figure of eight, so we’ll walk round one loop, have lunch in the Forest Centre café, and then see if we feel like doing the other one afterwards. See for more details of access, parking, etc.

Hope to see you there,

Jo Sidebottom

photo of Val Hinkins

Mid Bucks

On Thu 16th Jul at 7:30pm - Meal

Join me at Wycombe’s latest new restaurant, Richoux in Eden Place. Based in the elliptical building outside the entrance to the new library, this café opened in May. It serves a wide and varied menu, ranging from savouries and sandwiches, via an all day breakfast, egg dishes, salads, fish, and pasta to steak and chips. There are some vegetarian options. Leave room for something from their tempting selection of patisserie and desserts.

Please ring me on [Phone Number] or e-mail me at [Email] by Friday 10th July so that I can book us a table.

You can get some idea of the menu from the group’s web site, but be reassured that the prices for the local café are not as high as at the prestige London addresses featured there!

Val Hinkins

photo of Richard Allen

Herts Happenings

On Thu 2nd Jul at 8:15pm - FThOTM

Regular first Thursday of the month meeting. As always, we’re at the Millstream, Cambridge Road, Hitchin. Good food and good beer both available! Call me on [Phone Number] for more details and encouragement. The pub is about ten minutes’ walk from the railway station..

Richard Allen

On Sun 26th Jul at 1:00pm - Pub lunch

Celebrate summer by joining me for a pub lunch at the Black Horse, Ireland, near Shefford. This is a pub with a very good reputation for food but is also very popular, so please let me know no later than Monday 20 July if you’re coming as we need to reserve a table. Nearest stations are Arlesey and Biggleswade - pick-ups will be available.

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

Join us at the White Horse, Hertingfordbury village (about one mile west of Hertford town centre, just off the A414). A warm welcome and stimulating conversation guaranteed! Look for the Mag/Mblem. Hertingfordbury is about 20 minutes’ walk from Hertford North station. Contact me on [Phone Number] or Gwen on [Phone Number] for further details and encouragement.

Richard Allen/Gwen Jones

photo of Jenny Habib


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

We will meet at the Three Horseshoes at Winkwell, Bourne End, on the canal, down the small lane next to the Texaco Petrol station on the London Road, right by the Bourne End A 41 roundabout. This is half way between Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted. We can sit out beside the canal if it is fine, and inside if it rains. All members, young and adult very welcome. There are two car parking areas along the Lane on the opposite side to the pub. Hoping to see you all there.

Jenny Habib


On Wed 22nd Jul at 8:00pm - Pub social

A new event with a new host! Please come along to the Essex Arms, Langley Way, Watford, WD17 3EG, for a drink and chat and tell us what Mensa activities you’d like to see happening in this area. Everyone welcome! Contact Elaine on [Phone Number] for directions or encouragement.

Elaine Yates

Words, Words, Wonderful Words

I decided that this month, I’d give you my own contribution to the list of annoying phrases.

Basically, I’m like “I ain’t bovvered” by verbal tics or grammatical mistakes y’know, because I quite literally use them all the time myself.

However, there are phrases that do irritate me, and those are the ones which are commonly heard, yet are factually incorrect, not only for the particular instance in which they are heard, but are incorrect whenever the phrase is heard. So here is my personal “Hall of Shame”

1. “See you after the break” - No, you won’t! Not unless I’ve seriously misunderstood the way television works.

This one is a favourite of breakfast presenters, and it is an attempt at establishing a faux one-to-one relationship with the viewer. But even if it worked, I don’t want to be befriended by the presenter, I want to be entertained.

2. “Failure is not an option” - Of course it is. Success would be meaningless without it. It’s true it might be a very bad option, but that’s quite different.

Management are beloved of this phrase, well, at least some of the management I’ve worked with, and I don’t believe any of them have truly believed it themselves. It comes from the “talk to your staff as if they’re children, they’re too stupid to recognise the obvious flaw” school of management.

3. “Doing nothing is not a option” - Really? Try it. I think you’ll find otherwise.

Similar to the one above, both management and politicians like this one, and always translates as “I can’t think of any practical benefits that will come from implementing my half-baked initiative, so I’ll pretend that it has to be done”. Brilliantly exposed on the TV show “Yes Minister” as the argument “Something has to be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it.”

4. “We gave 110% percent commitment out there, today” - No. No you didn’t.

This is most commonly heard coming from footballers, although players in all team sports are susceptible. It’s the result of listening to too many motivational team talks from managers before games. “Last week, I asked you for 100% commitment, and you gave it (but we lost), this week I’m asking you for even more ...”. I often wonder if managers ever go into a dressing-room before a game and say “Right lads, I wan’t you to give 75% percent commitment this afternoon” to leave themselves room for greater exhortation before subsequent games.

Are there other phrases like this? Ones that are always factually incorrect. If you know of any, please let Rosie or me know. Contact details are on the back page. Likewise, if you can make any other contribution to the “Words, Words, Wonderful Words” feature, we want to hear from you.

Nick Stimpson

Think Tank

This month’s think tank is courtesy of Helen Shovlar from Spilsby in Lincolnshire.

What law would you introduce if you could?
We have, as someone said(Lord Palmerston, I think, but it might have been another C19 Prime Minister), quite enough laws already.
... and which would you repeal?
All of them! Then reinstate the ones we find we really need.
Which charity do you most like to support?
My local hospice shop
Whose picture would you like to see on a bank note?
Maybe the Mint should invite people to pay to have their own pictures on bank notes.
Name a place local to you that you’d recommend people visit
Gibraltar Point nature reserve - never mind the nature, there’s a wonderful sandy beach that goes on for miles, and even on a sunny Sunday in July we’ve had it almost to ourselves.
What device would you like to see invented?
Something that absorbs or dispels dust and dirt from household surfaces without the need for big roaring vacuum cleaners or filthy dusters.
Who would you like to see in the Big Brother house?
Do Mensans really watch this?
How would you reform parliament?
Nothing original ... sort out those dying Lancashire constituencies that have about 5 people living in them but still return Labour MPs by the dozen ... and stop the Scottish MPs from voting on English matters.
How can we save the planet?
Wear extra jumpers in winter and turn the heating down (or even off).
Name an event at which the British could win an Olympic gold medal.
What song would make a good national anthem for England?
Why do we need anthems?
Who would you like see entered into room 101?
90% of TV schedules.
Suggest a new question for this page.
Name one big idea you have had in your life?

Thanks to Helen and everyone who has submitted a Think Tank contribution. Do you have some good answers to these questions? If so email me or write a letter, or simplest of all, visit, click the “Think Tank” tab and complete the questionnaire on-line.

20 Questions (No. 94)

This month we have an American themed quiz. Please send your entries to ‘20 Questions (No. 94)’, [Address], to arrive by 20th July.

1. What is the highest mountain in the USA?

2. Who wrote the words of the US national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner?

3. The Hershey chocolate company headquarters are in which US state?

4. What is the state capital of Louisiana?

5. Who was defeated by the Sioux at the Battle of the Little Bighorn?

6. Who sculpted Mount Rushmore?

7. Which new space shuttle was built to replace Challenger?

8. Who did Bill Clinton defeat to become American President in 1992?

9. Which was the first US state to be admitted to the Union?

10. How many red stripes are there on the American flag?

11. Who was the first US President to live in the White House?

12. In which city was Martin Luther King assassinated?

13. In which month is Labor Day in the USA?

14. In which US state was Dodge City?

15. What is George W Bush’s middle name?

16. What is the name of the earthquake fault line that runs through California?

17. Who was the only US President not to speak English as his first language?

18. Which state borders California to the north?

19. Who assassinated Abraham Lincoln?

20. Jimmy Carter farmed what crop before becoming US President?

Answers to 20 Questions No. 92.

The answers to the European quiz from the May issue were Hungary, Finland, Dublin, La Manche, Tolar, Corsica & Sardinia & Sicily, Kerkyra, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Tarifa, Lough Neagh, Sicily, Pentland Firth, Corsica, Danube, Bosphorus, Poland & Lithuania, Netherlands and Belgium. Lots of entries this time from Chris Benger of Bedfordshire, Helene Parry of Brentford, Geraldine Ellis of Nottingham, D W Dell of Leighton Buzzard, Alan Tonks of Nottingham, Rita Beeson of Kempston, Roger Lord of Aylesbury, Jenny Ellway of Milton Keynes, Carol Wheatcroft of Derby, Philip Orton of Watford, Janet Jenkins of Berkhamsted, Mary Thone of Nottingham, Don Foster of Notts, Alan Fursdon of Milton Keynes, Pamela Covey of Woburn, Andy Cole of Cleethorpes, Philip Abbott of Watford and Chris Impey of Tring. The winner was Chris Impey. Congratulations!