A fingerprint
Fancy yourself as a detective? Why not try this month's quiz or the treasure hunt which will hopefully be on Saturday 22nd May in Ashby de la Zouch

Regional News

It's another month and we're still living with coronavirus restrictions. However, with half the adult population vaccinated at time of writing and plans for more activities to be allowed by mid-May, hopefully we will be able to meet again in person although we have online events listed too. It's imperative you do check with the host before attending a physical event. Let's hope everyone is sensible as restrictions ease and we're allowed to slowly get back to normality. Is anyone else going to find it strange getting dressed to go 'out out'!? Will you be venturing out to a Mensa event for the first time having perhaps got to know some of us through our East Midlands Mensa Facebook group over the last year? What type of events would you like to see advertised? I would really love to hear your views as we begin to live a new normal.

If you'd like to get more involved we are still seeking volunteers for the roles of Northampton Local Officer, Online Events Officer and Young Mensa Officer (as a contact for members aged 18-30ish). Please get in touch with me on [Phone Number] or [Email] for further information. Any member is, of course, welcome to host an online or in person event. So if you have suggestions please contact myself or your Local Officer.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing many of you in the coming months. It's been too long!

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer


Welcome to the May edition of Empress. Another month and the country is still in Lockdown, although hopefully slowly easing. What I'd like to hear about is the first thing on your list regarding what you want to do when all of this is over. Please send in your stories so that everybody can enjoy your plans and maybe you'll inspire someone! If you have not already done so then please let the office (membership@mensa.org.uk) know your email address. The regional newsletters can be available electronically in the future, so it is vital that the office can contact you via email.

Mark Sloan

Why I joined Mensa!!!

Helen, with a stretch of countyside canal and boats behind here.
Still on the narrowboat, in a more constrained place, possibly a lock on the canal

I'm Helen Barrett and I'm on a narrowboat floating around near Nottingham.

I joined a few years ago after I suffered brain injury caused by medication. It's a very long story, I'll try to cut it short. I developed SSRI induced mania and parkinsonism. It was realising the latter that made me stop the drugs, then found the mania and mood instability went away. However, I went into SSRI withdrawal. After 14 years on the highest dose of Citalopram, Venlafaxine, Duloxetine or Sertraline I cut it off without a taper. 14months later I emerged from the withdrawal and became a person again. I was still on Lithium though, and in the hot summer a few years ago I became dehydrated and suffered brain injury from lithium toxicity. I lost the ability to producewords, I was struggling to speak and mymemory was badly affected - long term, short term and my working memory was very profoundly impacted. I tapered off the Lithium, and for awhile there I felt very unintelligent. I started doing IQpuzzles, knowing I used to be good at them, though having never been tested. I just wanted to know how badly I'd been affected. Somehow I ended up on the Mensa website, and it suggested I take a test. For some unknown reason I cannot fathom, I toddled along to a testing centre. I couldn't believe it when I got in. I thought my addled brain would never make it, I just wanted to get a baseline from which to determine progress.

The neuroplasticty of the human brain is really incredible. I used Suko puzzles to improve my working memory. I was already doing a degree in Computing and IT part time with the Open University, while working as a truck driver. As I had been unable to sit in a chair at a computer, or stand for long I'd went out and took my class one licence and found a job driving articulated lorries, which didn't cause me excessive amounts of pain. The disability was due to the parkinsonism exacerbating herniated disks and hypermobility syndrome. I'm doing much better now. I'm 5 years into the degree and have been learning to be a software developer - that's my goal. I can almost feel my brain healing itself as I've learned how to write code. My memory has improved vastly and cognition is so much sharper. I need to get retested at Mensa to see if it has changed, I'd be really interested to find out.

I'm not cured. The demons in my head can take over at times, they arrived the day after I stopped taking the SSRI's, the day I went into withdrawal 4 and a half years ago. I have neurological damage to my left side - the parkinsonism was asymmetrical, my left side was affected significantly more than the right. The muscles around my shoulder are eternally in spasm, which has itsmoments. But I'm a hell of a lot better than I was. The SSRI's/SNRI's destroyed my physical and mental health before Lithium attacked my brain, Imean how unlikely it that?

So I'm entering my 40th year on this planet as a narrowboat-dwelling truck driver, and hopefully will be a junior software developer before the year is out. Five years ago I would never have thought I could have the level of physical ability or mental health I have now. I was hunched over a walking stick with treatment resistant 'bipolar disorder'. I never had bipolar disorder, the mania was entirely SSRI induced. Now, I hop on to the roof of my boat all agile and relatively fit, grab my kayak and row off into the distance, mindfully peaceful.

Helen Barrett

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 Susan Graves

Derby Diary

On Wed 19th May at 7:30pm - 3WOTM Online

Have a chat at our monthly Derby meeting on Zoom. Maybe we can talk about how we get this meeting back to in person. Have your choice of refreshment to hand. It will last for an hour and twenty minutes but stay for as little or long as you like. Please contact Susan for the Zoom link and any questions on [Email] or [Phone Number]

Susan Graves

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

photo of Steve Thomas

Hertfordshire Happenings

On Thu 6th May at 8:00pm - FThOTM

Sadly, COVID-19 makes a physical meeting impracticable at the Three Magnets, so as usual we will be joining the East Anglia Wide Zoom meeting. The meeting number is [Requires Login], Passcode: [Requires Login]. Previous Zoom meetings have provided lively and interesting conversation, and new faces are always welcome. Please call or [Phone Number] email [Email] for details. Or please visit the East Midlands Mensa or Brightspace Facebook group for updates.

Steve Thomas

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Haydn Starkie

In Leicestershire

On Mon 17th May at 8:00pm - Pub Social

Provided restrictions allow, join me for our usual third Monday of the month gathering at the Cradock Arms, 201 Knighton Road, Leicester, LE2 3TT. You are welcome to bring a friend or partner. Look out for the Mblem or Magazine. If you would like to attend, please let me know well in advance in case I need to book a table. Please contact me on [Phone Number] or at [Email].

On Sat 22nd May at 12:00pm - Treasure Trail

Come and have fun finding out who crumbled the biscuit man, starting any time between 12 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. Estimated time and distance 1.5 hours and 1.5 miles. Find me at Costa Coffee in Market Street to give you your clue sheet. Contact me before May 22nd to let me know that you are coming and discuss a start time as I need to stagger them. [Phone Number] or [Email]

On Sat 29th May at 7:00pm - Pub Meal

We’ll be dining at the Cheney Arms. This country pub, serving home cooked meals, can be found at 2 Rearsby Lane, Gaddesby, LE7 4XE. Booking in advance is essential and as pubs are probably going to be very busy and it is bank holiday weekend, so please let me know that you are coming by Saturday 15th May. [Phone Number][Email]

Haydn Starkie

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Jacquie Harrison

Lively Lincs

On Sat 8th May at 12:30pm - SSOTM lunchtime discussion

This month's topic needs some homework: “What famous people do or did that you wouldn't expect.” For fun, find out about the surprising activities of famous figures, then join us on Zoom for a friendly discussion over lunch – contribute as much or as little as you wish. Email Jacquie in advance to request the link, and for encouragement if you are a newcomer. Contact Jacquie on [Email] or [Phone Number].

On Sat 15th May at 11:00am - Zoom coffee & chat

Join us on Zoom for a friendly chat over coffee. No discussion topics or formalities, all very welcome. Contact Jacquie in advance for the Zoom link, and for encouragement if you are a newcomer to the group or haven't used Zoom before. Contact Jacquie on [Email] or [Phone Number].

On Wed 19th May at 1:30pm - Walk and coffee

If restrictions allow, we'll be meeting at Doddington Hall, Main Street, Doddington, LN6 4RU, for a takeaway coffee and then a walk around the gardens and parkland. It may be possible to visit the Lincolnshire Artists' Spring exhibition as well. Please contact Jacquie for confirmation and full details. [Phone Number] or [Email]

Jacquie Harrison

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

photo of Val Hinkins

Mid Bucks

On Sun 2nd May at 2:00pm - Games Afternoon

Please join Dave and Alison on-line for a relaxed and informal Sunday afternoon of board games and chat. All members and friends are welcome. We play most Sundays using www.boardgamearena.com and Jitsi for chat. Further details are on the main Mensa web site. For more information please contact Dave a few days beforehand. Either telephone him on [Phone Number] or e-mail to [Email]

On Fri 21st May at 10:30am - Coffee & Chat

I am hoping that we may be able to meet in person by this date and enjoy some relaxed conversation, cake and coffee together somewhere in High Wycombe. If you would like to come, please let me know on [Phone Number] or e-mail me at [Email] I will contact you a few days beforehand to confirm the venue and that the meeting is going ahead.

For further details or encouragement contact me on [Phone Number] or e-mail me at [Email]

Val Hinkins

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

photo of Jo Sidebottom

Mensans in MK & Bedford

On Sat 1st May at 11:30am - Walk

Weather and Covid permitting, we are going to wander around the charming little town of Olney. Meet 11.30am by the war memorial in the market square. Contact [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number] beforehand to confirm it’s going ahead.

On Mon 17th May at 7:30pm - 3MOTM Quiz

Fun general knowledge quiz via Zoom. Link will be publicised nearer the time via social media, or contact Jo at [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number].

On Sun 23rd May at 10:30am - Sunday Breakfast

Join us online via Zoom as we chat over breakfast. Zoom link will be publicised nearer the time via social media, or contact Jo at [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number].

Just a reminder about our M-MK & Bedford Facebook group – if you would like to join please search for the group and send me a request. I also keep an email distribution list for meeting reminders and any last-minute changes, so if you would like to be added to this please let me know.

We hope to see as many of you as possible at one or other of our events this month. Do remember that you’re welcome to bring a guest with you, so if you’ve never been to a Mensa event and are a little nervous about coming along on your own, just bring a friend.

Jo Sidebottom

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

News from Northampton

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

On Wed 5th May at 8:00pm - 5OTM

We may be able to meet outside for a long overdue drink and chat at the Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Road (NG2 1NB). Please contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] beforehand if interested as numbers may be restricted or we may need to book a table. Plus this event may be weather dependant!

On Thu 13th May at 7:30pm - Natter & Nosh

Al fresco dinner anyone? Please check with Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] if we are able to meet outside at The Cadland, High Road, Chilwell. A limited number of us may be able to have a get together, weather permitting.

On Sat 22nd May at 7:00pm - Eurovision Party

Once again our Eurovision fun will be online. Grab yourself some European themed food and drink, watch the show on BBC1 and join in the banter with fellow fans via Facebook. Get in touch with Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] if you'd like to join in.

On Sun 23rd May at 2:00pm - Walk

Another attempt at a walk around Shipley Country Park. Meet in car park at the visitor centre (DE75 7GX). Charge of £1.60 for 2 hours or £3 for 4 hours applies. Route can be 3-5 miles dependant on participants and weather and passes through woodland, round lakes and historic buildings. It's important to contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] to confirm this event is going ahead.

On Tue 25th May at 7:30pm - Eating Meeting

Restaurants should be open again, but we may be restricted to how many households can dine together. Please contact Maxine if interested and this event will be planned accordingly. [Phone Number] or [Email]

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Chance to stand for board role

A pile of square wooden blocks, all blank except for the uppermost four, which are made up like scrabble tiles to form the word 'Vote'

There will be five seats on the British Mensa board up for election this summer.

If you are interested in volunteering to help run your society as a director of British Mensa Ltd, please do consider putting yourself forward.

This year, the option to complete the whole nomination process online is available for the first time, making it even easier to get involved.

To stand in the election, you must have been a member in good standing for at least a year and have the support of 10 other members.

If you would like to know more about being a director, you can also contact any of the current board for a chat about what is involved. It would be great to see some new faces step up.

If you think you might like to stand, click the red button if you're reading the online version, or visit www.cesvotes.com/britishmensanominations to access all the documents you need to stand for election.

Alternatively, email Carolyn Skitt via carolyns@mensa.org.uk to request a paper version of the documents.

20 Questions (No. 235)

The answers to the 1980s quiz in the March issue were Phil Collins, The Go-Go's, Stuart Adamson, Birmingham, Declan MacManus, Nick Rhodes, 1980, Duran Duran, China Crisis, teacher, Stock/Aitkin/Waterman, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Rick Allen, Bobby Brown, Siobhan Fahey, Paul Young, Video Killed The Radio Star, Las Vegas High School, Alannah Currie and Aztec Camera. Lots of entries this month with everyone getting top marks so the winner drawn at random (by a bewildered friend at their door!) was June Fitz Gibbon of Spilsby. Congratulations June!

As we have a treasure hunt/murder mystery series of events happening, this month we have questions on Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot stories kindly set by Pamela Covey. The answers come from the books rather than the TV adaptations. Send your entry to '20 Questions (No. 235)', [Address] or [Email] by 20th May for chance to win a £10 One4All gift card. Don't forget to include your name and address!

1. In 'After the Funeral' ,what ist he name of the Abernethie family home?

2. In Poirot's last case, 'Curtain', who caused the death of Mrs Franklin?

3. Poirot's friend, crime writer Mrs Ariadne Oliver, is notoriously fond of which food item?

4. In 'Three Act Tragedy' ,what is the cause of the three murders?

5. Miss Lemon, Poirot's secretary, dreams of patenting the perfect what?

6. What was Captain Hastings's pet name for his wife?

7. Which character in 'The Chocolate Box' is considered to be Poirot's 'first love'?

8. In 'Cat Among the Pigeons',where are the missing jewels hidden?

9. Ariadne Oliver's fictional detective, Sven Hjerson, is of which nationality?

10. What is the name of the restaurant (murder scene) in 'The Yellow Iris'?

11. Which story is narrated by the murderer in the form of his journal?

12. In 'Sad Cypress',what is the name of the thornless red/pink rose?

13. Who and what is the title character in 'Dumb Witness'?

14. What is the butler's name in 'Hercule Poirot's Christmas'?

15. In 'The A.B.C. Murders', which medical disorder affects the supposed serial killer?

16. The poison coniine used in 'Five Little Pigs' is derived from which plant?

17. In 'The Hollow', which 'old flame' of John Christow turns up?

18. What causes Anne Johnson's death in 'Murder in Mesopotamia'?

19. In 'Death on the Nile', what is the name of the vessel carrying the passengers on their river cruise?

20. What was Sheila Webb's real first name in 'The Clocks'?