Chairs, chairs everywhere but nowhere to sit!

These pictures were taken by Val Hinkins at Wycombe Museum's free pop-up exhibition "Made in High Wycombe: Furniture" she is planning to take a Mensa group to on Friday 20th November. See the Mid Bucks section of the Regional Events for details.


Regional News

Another month has gone and we're no nearer the end of this pandemic. In fact at the time of writing we seem to be going backwards! We have managed a few in person events over the summer, but the majority of interaction between members is still online. We are therefore seeking someone to join the East Midlands team in a brand new role of Online Events Officer. You can make this role your own, but essentially we need someone with a technical brain to arrange and encourage some Zoom or other format activities so we can all stay in touch. Even when we're allowed out again the intention is to host 'blended events', i.e. a mix of online and in person events. Could this be you? I'm afraid I've failed miserably at using Zoom during lockdown so I'm definitely not the person for the job! Plus it would be nice to have a new face on our friendly team. Please do get in touch with me for an informal chat if you might be interested in this opportunity to get involved without leaving home.

As is now usual, we have listed some events, but it's imperative that you check any in person events are going ahead with the host before travelling as so many factors may mean the event won't be possible. The government rules seem to change daily. Some days I don't know whether to laugh or cry when watching the news. The world just seems so ridiculous.

Don't forget, articles for this newsletter are always welcome whether that's a 20 questions quiz, member profile, a few words about your home town/job/hobby, a story about any of your experiences in these strange times, a poem or short story, or just an announcement if you are celebrating a birth/special birthday/ engagement/wedding/anniversary. I'm on [Phone Number] or [Email] and happy to hear from you

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer


Welcome to the November edition of Empress. I hope you have been managing to get outdoors and getting some exercise in these strange times we're all going through. If you have not already done so then please let the office ( 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

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 18th Nov at 8:00pm - 3WOTM Online

PLEASE NOTE later time. Here’s our monthly Derby meeting on Zoom. Join us for a chat without worrying about traffic and parking. It’s likely to last for about an hour and twenty minutes. Please contact me for the Zoom link and with any questions. Contact Susan on [Phone Number] or [Email]

Susan Graves

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

photo of Steve Thomas

Hertfordshire Happenings

On Thu 5th Nov at 8:00pm - FThOTM

We will again be joining the Sudbury (East Anglia region) Zoom meeting. The meeting number is [Requires Login], and the passcode is [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.

On Fri 27th Nov at 8:00pm - LFOTM

As ever, we are planning to be at the Cowper Arms, Digswell. The pub is next to Welwyn North station and is served by stopping trains from Kings Cross to Cambridge. Good food, beer and conversation guaranteed! Please call me on [Phone Number] to confirm whether this meeting is still taking place, dependent upon the COVID-19 situation.

Steve Thomas

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Haydn Starkie

In Leicestershire

On Mon 16th Nov at 8:00pm - Pub Social

Join me for our usual convivial 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 need any directions or encouragement, please contact me on [Phone Number] or at [Email].

On Sat 28th Nov at 7:00pm - Pub Meal

This month we are dining at the Miller & Carter Steakhouse, 933 Loughborough Road, Rothley LE7 7NJ Please note that there is a dress code of smart/casual i.e. no trainers, hoodies, track suit bottoms etc. to be worn. Booking in advance is essential so please let me know by 21st November if you would like to join us. Contact me on [Phone Number] or e-mail[Email]

Haydn Starkie

Contact [Email] or [Mobile Number] for details

photo of Jacquie Harrison

Lively Lincs

On Sat 14th Nov at 12:00pm - SSOTM pub discussion

A bit of whimsy for our topic this month: “What would you choose to be buried with, and why?” Contact Jacquie in advance to confirm whether pub or online meeting. An online meeting will use Zoom, please request the link. Alternatively, the pub venue is the Adam & Eve Tavern opposite Pottergate Arch, all welcome and you can bring a guest. Contact Jacquie on [Phone Number] or [Email].

On Tue 24th Nov at 11:00am - Walk near cathedral

A gentle walk starting from the cathedral grounds, including a couple of houses with history. Guests/family welcome. We hope to conclude with coffee or lunch at a nearby venue to be decided, if current restrictions allow. Contact Jacquie for details/encouragement on [Phone Number] or [Email]

Jacquie Harrison

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

photo of Val Hinkins

Mid Bucks

On Sun 1st Nov at 2:00pm - Games Afternoon

Please join Dave and Alison on-line for a relaxed and informal afternoon of board games and chat. All members and friends are welcome. We will be using and Skype for informal chat. For further dates, information, directions &/or connection details please contact Dave a few days beforehand. Either telephone him on [Phone Number] or e-mail to [Email]

On Fri 20th Nov at 10:30am - Coffee & Chat

Join me in Patisserie Valerie in the Eden Centre for relaxed conversation, cake and coffee. Please contact me a few days before to confirm the meeting is going ahead on [Phone Number] or e-mail me at [Email]

On Fri 20th Nov at 11:45am - Furniture exhibition

After coffee we will visit Wycombe Museum’s free pop-up exhibition of locally made 20th century furniture in the old HMV shop in the Eden Centre. Please contact me a few days before for final arrangements on [Phone Number] or e-mail me at [Email]

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 Sun 8th Nov at 11:00am - Woodland walk

Weather and Covid permitting, we are going to walk round Linford Wood Meet 11am in Enfield Chase car park just by the BP garage on Saxon St (between Monks & Dansteed). Contact [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number] beforehand to confirm it’s going ahead.

On Mon 16th Nov at 7:45pm - 3MOTM Quiz

Option 1 is the quiz at The Plough at Simpson. Meet from 7.45 for a 8.00pm start, cost £1 per person. Please let me know if you are coming. Option 2 – probably more likely – is an online alternative. Look out for further clarification nearer the time, or contact Jo at [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number].

On Sun 22nd Nov at 10:00am - Breakfast

Option 1 is meeting up at Brown's on Midsummer Boulevard from 10am for a full breakfast, a snack, or just a drink. Option 2 – probably more likely - is an online alternative. Look out for further clarification nearer the time, 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

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

On Sun 1st Nov at 1:00pm - Wise Owl Walk

Explore the city following a trail of 10 owl statues installed at well-known locations. Each one holds a letter. Find them all to unravel a secret code! Ideal for families. Meet at the left lion outside the Council House But confirm this event is going ahead on [Phone Number] or [Email] as may be cancelled due to COVID restrictions or weather.

On Thu 5th Nov at 8:00pm - 5OTM

Remember remember the 5th of November! But please check with Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] that we're able to meet at the Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Road (near Nottingham railway station) before travelling as we may need to book a table and/or have restricted numbers.

On Thu 12th Nov at 7:30pm - Natter & Nosh

A limited number of us should be able to meet for dinner and drinks and chat at The Cadland on High Road in Chilwell. Please contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] so a reservation can be made. First come first served!

On Tue 17th Nov at 7:00pm - 3TuOTM

Please contact Pete on [Phone Number] or [Email] to find out where the Newark group will be meeting this month. The regular venue has closed permanently and a new one not decided yet. New members welcome to touch base and be kept up to date with local activity.

On Tue 24th Nov at 7:30pm - Eating Meeting

Let's try a taste of Mexican at Chiquito's restaurant, Redfield Way, Lenton, NG7 2UW. Contact Maxine on [Phone Number] or [Email] by 20th to reserve your place. Numbers likely to be limited.

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Ey Up Mi Duck!

Bronze statue of Robin Hood, as an archer with arrow drawn and ready to fire.
Whitewashed building with black lettering on the front saying 'ye olde trip to jerusalem', '1189AD' and 'the oldest inn in England'
Front elevation of Wollaton Hall stately home

You have most likely visited Nottingham, but have you lived like a local whilst there? Here are six of the best quirky things to do in and around the city...

Meet at the left lion

A traditional city centre meeting point for friends. The imposing Council House in the Market Square is guarded by two stone lions. For clarity the left lion is the one to your left as you look towards the council house from 'Slab Square'. His name is Leo and he was designed by Joseph Else, after whom the Wetherspoon's pub in the Market Square is named.

Sip a cocktail on the beach

The city may be 90 miles from the nearest coastline but every summer (apart from 2020!) the council construct a beach in the Market Square complete with tonnes of sand, a large paddling pool, deckchairs, cocktail bar, ice cream kiosk, fairground rides and more. Welcome to the Costa del Nottingham!

Eat a cock-on-a-stick

Not as rude as it sounds! It's a cockerel shaped lollipop only sold at the world-famous Goose Fair held the first weekend in October. Ben Whitehead started the tradition at the end of the 19th century and passed down the secret recipe. His grandson Ray Brooks ran his first stall at the fair in 1950 and, now aged 88, has never missed a year (until 2020!).

Take a trip to Jerusalem

The 'Trip' is a pub carved into the sandstone rock below Nottingham Castle. It's reputed to be the oldest inn in England dating back to 1189 when knights stopped on their way to the crusades. There are lots of nooks and crannies, but don't offer to dust the model galleon hanging in the Rock Lounge. It's considered to be cursed as the last three people to clean it died mysteriously within months of doing so.

Follow in the steps of Torvill & Dean

Jayne and Chris began their skating career at Nottingham ice stadium training early morning before their jobs as an insurance clerk and policeman. Since Olympic success in 1984 the pair have been honoured by the building of the National Ice Centre on the site of their former training rink and the naming of a whole housing estate including Torvill Drive, Dean Close, Bolero Close and Callaway Close.

Picnic with Batman

Very near the Torvill & Dean estate lies Wollaton Park. Likely recognised as the home of Batman as Wollaton Hall was used to depict Wayne Manor in the Dark Knight Rises film. The hall houses the city's natural history and industrial museums and the 500-acre park is home to roaming deer. A great place to tuck into your 'snap' on a summer day or whilst attending the Splendour music festival!

Maxine Bates

A Virtual AG

This year, because of the Covid situation, the AG was held virtually on September 11th-13th, instead of in person at Manchester, where it was originally going to take place. Here are a couple of articles written by those who took part.

On Friday 11th September at 8pm, I Zoomed to the Mensa AG to join the pub social which Andrew Aus was in charge of. It took me seconds to get there and there were no transport problems or costs and I didn't have to book a hotel either. This was Mensa's first online AG, which thanks to Hannah Eisenberg, had been organised as the 2020 Manchester AG could not take place due to the pandemic. Like usual AG's there were many events to chose to join in. There were languages to learn, debates to join in, quizzes, talks, a virtual tour, games and workshops.

To fit in with what I was doing at home and what I was interested in, I chose to attend 3 events. The afore mentioned pub social, the AGM and the Murder Mystery game. As I sipped my pink gin, which cost me less than at any pub, I chatted to many new faces that I hadn't encountered before and the conversation flowed easily and was interesting and humorous. Some people went into smaller chat rooms to talk and then came back again to join the main room. The only problem was trying to get a word in edge ways as only one voice at a time can be heard on Zoom. One thing that came to light, was that quite a few of us were going to the Murder Mystery game the next evening and had been given parts to play but more about that later. The pub event was scheduled to end at 10pm but at 10.30pm it was still going strong, when I said farewell and apparently it went on beyond midnight!

On Saturday afternoon, I watched the AGM whilst having my lunch. The beauty of watching a live video, rather than being actually in the room, is that no one can see what you are doing! There was some online voting to be done and it took me until the 4th vote to work out where on my screen this was being displayed. Yes, I really am in Mensa, but the voting options only flashed up on the screen for 30 seconds and were not on the part of the screen where the video was displayed! Having tried scrolling down the screen on the 2nd vote, I scrolled up the screen for the 3rd and found the voting options just too late. After that I knew where on the screen I need to go to for the rest of the votes. It was interesting to see what actually happens at a Mensa AGM as I have never attended one before when I have been at an AG.

So on Saturday evening, I get dressed up (this was optional) to play the part of Xenia Onabottom. Vikki Chance organised this event and e-mailed those who played a character in the game, their part a few days beforehand. My prop for the part of Xenia (a Russian freelance assassin from Georgia) was a Vodka Martini with a twist, which I was quite happy to arrange and sip during the play. However, this did not help my appalling Russian accent! Those playing a character stayed on screen with their character names displayed (all based on James Bond ones) and those watching, joined the Zoom room without video and were muted. There were about 13 of us with a part in "You Only Die Once" by Red Herring-Games and there were at least 14 viewers. The lines we were given were very witty and we were encouraged to ad lib, which made the play even more hilarious with lots of play on words and double entendres added on. At the end, the viewers turned on their videos so everyone could be seen on screen and we had a brief discussion as to who we thought had "dunnit", before Vikki, as M, eliminated each character until it was revealed who had in fact murdered 006 and three quarters!

I didn't attend any of the Sunday events as I was seeing friends and Zooming with my family but I really enjoyed the online AG although, when all is said and done, there is nothing like being with folk in reality, which I sincerely hope we will be able to do next year.

Pen Penny

Having been a regular AG attendee for twenty years, and a director for nine, I've seen a fair few AGMs, from both sides of the directors' table. Some of them have been eventful, others mercifully quiet and brief. But there is no doubt that the 2020 AGM was the strangest of them all.

Once it became clear that lockdown was still too unpredictable to confirm a 'real' AGM, the board made arrangements for holding it virtually. We quickly ruled out working entirely via Zoom, as this would be too dependent on individual board members' remote connections. Instead we decided that the board should meet and hold the meeting in person, and this should be live streamed to members. The Procedures Body (PB), who assist the board in running the AGM and ensure the rules are observed, checked that company law and Covid emergency legislation would permit us to hold an AGM with only the board and PB members present in the room.

Warwick University was already familiar to us, and they were able to accommodate us and livestream the AGM, including any polls required to note/accept reports, etc. In order to keep things simple and ensure that no-one was disenfranchised, we arranged for votes on motions that were being put to the AGM to be conducted in advance, and results simply announced at themeeting.

Accordingly, nine board and four PB members assembled on Saturday 12th September in good time for a quick run through to ensure that everything worked. The theatre was large enough for everyone to be socially distanced, though most of us also chose to wear masks when not required to speak. A few last minute adjustments were required to ensure that things ran smoothly but the university staff were helpful and responsive to our requests, and we kicked off fairly promptly at just after 2pm.

Fortunately the planning paid off, and everything went smoothly. Results of the prior votes on motions were announced (they were all approved), real-time polls on other matters worked well, speakers were seen and heard at the appropriate times, and we completed the meeting in just over an hour.

The content may not have been the most riveting ever witnessed at a Mensa AGM, with nothing contentious on the agenda, but the format was unique in Mensa history. Having not restood for election this year, my term as a director finished upon closure of the AGM, so it was my last one (as a director at least). I'm very glad I was able to participate and see the 'behind the scenes' work that went into delivering our first online AGM

Jo Sidebottom

20 Questions (No. 229)

The country anagrams from the September quiz were Serbia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Lebanon, Mongolia, Montenegro, El Salvador, Singapore, Timor Leste, Honduras, Iceland, Armenia, Argentina, Israel, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Grenada, Mali, Sierra Leone and Macedonia. A record number of entries this month so obviously too easy! Congratulations to Don Foster of Notts who wins the £10 book token.

Thanks to Les Hurst for compiling this month's quiz. All the answers begin with the letters DA. Send your entries to arrive by 20th November to '20 Questions (No. 229)', [Address] or [Email], remembering your name and address.

1. If Wall Street has the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Frankfurt has what?

2. Who was Charles Dickens' 'favourite child'?

3. 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' mentions the railway from Richmond to where?

4. An ancient Greek army defeated which Persian king at the Battle of Marathon?

5. In 2007 the television channel UK Gold changed its name to what?

6. Brent Spiner played which character in Star Trek: The Next Generation?

7. In 1867 Karl Marx published which book?

8. How has Tenzin Gyatso been known since February 1940?

9. In May 1943 the RAF's 617 Squadron acquired which nickname?

10. The Wirksworth Stardisc encourages which movement to reduce night-time light pollution?

11. Which car company shares its name with the Roman name for Romania?

12. While the Jews worshipped Yahweh the Philistines worshipped who?

13. Alexander Simpson and Dudley Beck launched which fashion house in 1894?

14. Who has been the chair of over two hundred episodes of TV's Mock The Week?

15. Which Australian city suffered worse air raids than Pearl Harbor in WWII?

16. Which Birmingham cycle manufacturer was a rival to Raleigh of Nottingham?

17. What alternate name for the Little Grebe is used in The Wind in the Willows?

18. The Cafe Voltaire in Zurich in 1916 was birthplace to which artistic movement?

19. Makhachkala is the capital of which republic, officially still part of Russia?

20. Dorothy Wordsworth recorded the sight of what in her diary for 15th April 1802 that was to influence her brother William?