Jo and Chris visit the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.


Well, yes, actually. When Jo Sidebottom and Chris Lonsborough visited the Whitechapel Bell Foundry with other Mensans on one of the many events on offer at this year's AG, they had more than a passing interest ~ see below.


Regional News

I am delighted to announce that during the awards ceremony at the London Annual Gathering, Empress won two of the six regional newsletter awards, for the presentation and service categories. A smiling Rosie went up on stage to collect the awards on behalf of herself and Nick, our two hardworking volunteer Editors. Many thanks to them for creating such an excellent newsletter for East Midlands members each month as well as to everyone who has sent in a contribution over the last year. We wouldn't have won without you!

Regretfully Leicester LocSec, Rebecca Mawby, will be resigning this month as she is heading off to university outside the East Midlands region and is no longer able to continue in the role. Rebecca has done a sterling job hosting a huge variety of events around the county over the last few years, having taken on the role at the tender age of 17. Thank you and good luck with your studies, Rebecca! Sue Watford has kindly offered to take over as Leicester LocSec temporarily until another willing volunteer is found. She plans to host some meals and walks but would welcome suggestions and offers of help from other members. Please contact me if you might be interested in becoming Leicester LocSec. It's a great way to meet members in your area and widen your circle of friends whilst having fun.

Janak Gunatilleke is keen to set up a Young Mensa group in the East Midlands aimed at the 18-35 age range. Please see the feature in this issue and do get in touch with him if you are keen to participate in any way.

As ever, feel free to contact me with suggestions for events or new initiatives (as Janak did) for East Midlands Mensa. I'm on [Phone Number] or [Email]

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 Jacquie Harrison


On Sun 21st Oct at 5.00pm - Nando's

We are trying another eatery on the Brayford this month - Nando's. Maxine Bates, Regional Officer, hopes to be able to join us. Please ring for more information. Everyone very welcome.

Jacquie Harrison

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

Dunstable and Luton

We haven't been to the Man Ho for a while, but the food has always been excellent. We will go in convoy from the English Rose pub for about 8.30pm. Andy and I MAY have moved to Northamptonshire by now (I write 2nd Aug) but I will stay on as Luton LocSec, as we wouldn't want to lose contact with all our Mensa friends around the area and would be coming down anyway.

On Sat 13th Oct at 7.30pm - SSOTM Pub Eating Meeting

Meet up at the The English Rose Pub, 46 Old Bedford Road, Luton, Beds LU2 7PA before moving on to The Man Ho Chinese restaurant, 72 Dunstable Rd, Luton, LU1 1EH about 8.30pm to eat. Email me or ring Andy on [Phone Number] by 11th October to book your place, as it gets very busy. All welcome, look for Mblem.

Les Draper Eames

photo of Maxine Bates

Notts News

On Fri 5th Oct at 8.00pm - 5OTM

Start the weekend with a drink and chat with Mensa friends at the Vat & Fiddle pub on Queensbridge Road near Nottingham railway station. Look for yellow Mblem to left of bar from 8.00pm or phone for directions. New faces always welcome.

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

Meet us promptly inside doors to the Cornerhouse before dining at Nando's chicken restaurant then watching a film at Cineworld. Contact Paul on [Email] or [Phone Number] to help with table reservation and/or film selection.

On Tue 16th Oct at 7.30pm - Theatre Trip

The musical "Annie" starring Ruth Madoc is coming to the Theatre Royal. If anyone is interested in the 7.30pm performance on 16th please get in touch as soon as possible. Balcony seats from £14, Upper Circle from £19.

On Fri 19th Oct at 8.30pm - Ilkeston Fair

We usually enjoy a trip to famous Goose Fair, but this year we're going to Ilkeston Fair instead. It's two weeks later, has the same rides, but is usually not as busy. If you'd like to join us please contact me to arrange a rendez-vous point or in case of inclement weather.

On Sat 27th Oct at 8.00pm - Halloween Party

Lesley and Geoff Walker are kindly hosting a Halloween party at their home in Newark. Fancy dress welcome - the crazier the better! Contact them at [Email] or [Phone Number] for directions and to let them know you're joining the fun.

On Tue 30th Oct at 7.30pm - Postcode Pubcrawl

October's "Postcode Pubcrawl" takes us to The Hutt opposite Newstead Abbey. The Hutt was built in 1400 as part of Lord Byron's estate and King John once stayed there. A now blocked off tunnel built by monks links the pub to the abbey. Join us at 7.30pm for a meal or later for just a drink and to listen to the jazz band. Look for Mblem or phone me so we can save you a seat.

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Joke in a box

A man walked in to a bar. Ouch!

photo of Ian Sargent

Northants NNotes

On Thu 4th Oct at 9.00pm - 1Th: Pub

Just to confuse everyone, our Harlestone meetings have switched from 2nd to 1st Thursday of the month. To find out why you'll have to come and ask. The same venue: Fox & Hounds, on the main road through the village. If you haven't been there for a while come to see whether the re-vamp is an improvement. A Mensa mag on one of the tables will be a dead giveaway of our location.

On Thu 8th Oct at 8.00pm - Roadshow

South Northants is graced with the Roadshow's presence again this month and we are returning to one of our favourite places: The Barley Mow at Paulerspury. The big question is will they have the Hobgoblin on this time, or will some members go home disappointed again? Look for us at a table to the right of the bar.

Ian Sargent

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

photo of Richard Allen


On Thu 4th Oct at 7.30pm - Pub Social

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 for encouragement.

On Fri 19th Oct at from 7.30pm - Beer Festival

The Engineers Arms is well-known for its week-long beer festival in October - join us and sample a few exotic ales in convivial company! The pub is on Henlow High Street and about 30 minutes' walk from Arlesey station. It is also served by buses from Hitchin town centre.

On Sun 21st Oct at 2.00pm - St Albans Organ Theatre

Join us for a visit to this museum of mechanical music of a bygone age. Wurlitzers, theatre organs, you name it! Nothing modern allowed! Meet for a pub lunch first at 12.30 - location TBC. The museum is on the eastern outskirts of St Albans on Camp Road and is served by buses between St Albans and Hatfield, serving both railway stations.

On Fri 26th Oct at 8.00pm - LFOTM

Join us in the lounge of the White Horse, Hertingfordbury to chill out and mark the end of Summer Time - look for the mag/Mblem. Ring Gwen on [Phone Number] or me for details or encouragement. The hotel is about 20 minutes' walk from Hertford North station. Meals are available.

Richard Allen

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Joke in a box

Mrs Smith was discussing funeral arrangements with her vicar. "I would like my ashes to be scattered over Tesco". "Why?" asked the vicar. "Then I'd be sure my daughters would visit me twice a week!"

photo of Jenny Habib


On Wed 31st Oct at 7.45pm - LWOTM

Please note the change of venue. We will meet at the Three Horseshoes on the canal at Winkwell, Bourne End, just off the Hemel Hemstead Road, half way between Hemel and Berkhamsted, down the narrow lane next to Texaco and across the swing bridge. Do come and drink, eat or just join us for a quiet chat. All members welcome.

Jenny Habib

Contact [Email] or [Phone Number] for details

Derby Doings

On Wed 17th Oct at 7.30pm - 3WOTM

Please join us for our regular meeting at the Standing Order to enjoy the company, drink and food, as long as it's not dopiaza. I had just discovered how good they taste and now they've disappeared from the menu.

On Wed 24th Oct at 8.00pm - Pub Meeting

Last time I had a day out in Castle Donington I finished up with a strange woman and her stinking pooch in my car. I hope to have a far less eventful and more enjoyable time on this occasion in the lounge of the Cross Keys.


Bernie Briggs

High Wycombe & Amersham

Hopefully all South Bucks Mensans have survived the Summer. Why not come to Pizza Express and tell us about your holidays. There should be lively company and plenty to eat.

On Thu 11th Oct at 8.00pm - Pizza

A return to the popular Pizza Express Restaurant in Oxford Street. There is parking near by. Contact me by Tue 9th Oct to reserve your place and for details and encouragement.

Alistair Blackett


As most of you will be aware by now I am stepping down as Leicester LocSec at the end of October when I'll be leaving the area to train to be a Midwife. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who have come to my meetings over the last four years and also thank those who have wished me well for the future.

On Wed 3rd Oct at 8.00pm - Pub Meeting

Join me for my last meeting as Leicester LocSec for drinks at The Priory pub, Nanpanton, Loughborough. Easy access from the motorway. All welcome! Contact me for directions.

Rebecca Mawby

Joke in a box

What's round and bad-tempered? A vicious circle.

Joke in a box

If at first you don't succeed, sky-diving is not for you.

Joke in a box

Old musicians don't die. They just decompose.

photo of Jo Sidebottom

Milton Keynes & Bedford

On Thu 4th Oct at 8.00pm - FTh: Movable Feast

This month we're going to The Silk Road in Grafton Street, opposite the Hockey Stadium and next to Staples and the Travelodge. The style is "oriental fusion" - a mixture of Indian, Chinese and Thai. Menu/prices/location etc at Booking essential by Tuesday 2nd.

On Wed 17th Oct at 7.00pm - 3WOTM

Join us at Starbucks coffee shop in Border bookshop from 7.00pm onwards (they close at 9.00pm). Borders is by the Hockey Stadium (Portway/Grafton St roundabout). We'll have the Mblem on display, but don't forget to check the sofas round the corner!

Jo Sidebottom

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

Trumpets and Bells

Helene and Rosie hold up the 4 plaques they won between them

Showing off:

Editors, Helene and Rosie, display the awards they collected for London Mensa News and Empress

I don't usually write an editorial and Nick and I aren't usually ones to blow our own trumpets BUT . . . this month is an exception on both counts.

There are 13 regional newsletters and each year a Winner and a Highly Commended award in each of 3 categories - Service, Entertainment and Presentation - are presented at an Awards Ceremony held at the AG weekend. This year, I am delighted to tell you, Empress won both the Service and the Presentation categories. Editors see all the regional newsletters each month and there's some stiff competition out there! Nick and I are over the moon with these results.

The full list of newsletter awards is:

    • Winner: Empress
    • Highly Commended: Impress
    • Winner: London Mensa News
    • Highly Commended: Bwrdd
    • Winner: Empress
    • Highly Commended: London Mensa News


Keith Brough wins the Individual Award.

Judge's comments: "This year, the individual award goes to someone who has worked tirelessly over a number of years for newsletters and their editors. As both an editor and a supporter of other editors, this person has contributed hugely to the cause. The individual award, along with our thanks for all his enthusiasm and hard work, goes to... Keith Brough."

I am especially pleased about this award as Keith, who has done such a great job as Regional Publications Officer, and who has also edited several newsletters including Empress for over 10 years, has been very helpful and supportive of my efforts since I became an editor in 2004; he also organises the annual Regional Newsletter Editors' Conferences where I have learned so much about editing. Congratulations, Keith! Such a well-deserved award! I'm only sorry you weren't there in London to receive it - the applause from your supporters would have brought the house down!

Now to bells. At the AG weekend in London in August one of many events on offer was to visit the Whitechapel Bell Foundry ( This was a fascinating tour led by Alan Hughes, in whose family the business has been for generations. The foundry cast both the Liberty Bell and Big Ben, though the large bells it casts now are slightly smaller, and also casts handbells. (Thinking of buying? A 2-octave 25-bell set of handbells would cost you around £4,500)

At one point in the tour, the area where bells are hung shown on the front cover, I jokingly asked Jo Sidebottom, LocSec of Milton Keynes, "Ring any bells?"

"Well, yes, I used to; so did Chris."

Of course I asked for more information and this is what Jo told me: "I learned to ring in my teens, but never progressed beyond ringing "rounds" - i.e. no complicated change-ringing or methods! I learned in my local village church in Felmersham (North Beds) where my father was the vicar. I haven't rung for many years. Chris also learned in his teens, in Seaford (East Sussex), and to a slightly higher standard but he hasn't rung for years either. Strangely enough, we both had parents who were excellent ringers. My mother was an expert, although she doesn't ring now, and was even presented to the Queen as the youngest ringer in a band that rang at Chester Cathedral. Both Chris's parents also rang, and his father still does at the age of 81. He rang in Oxford for many years, both at churches and colleges, and also visited many churches around the country on ringing outings. He's now back at Seaford and still going strong. Sadly neither of us has lived up to our parents' standards!"

Photo of Rosie Jefferson

What an interesting story emerged from asking one simple question!

Finally, if you have any short jokes for Joke-in-a-box, please send them in (no reward except to make people smile - or groan). That's all from me for this issue. Have a great month.


Young Mensa in the East Midlands

Hi! My name is Janak and I am a junior doctor working in Northampton. I am keen to set up a group for Young Mensans (ages 18-35) in the East Midlands region. This will enable us to meet up regularly, make new friends and, most importantly, have fun!

I am collecting information about Young Mensans interested in joining the group. Please visit to complete the short questionnaire to help me get a better idea of what you want from the group.

Any questions or suggestions please email me on [Email]. Hope to hear from you soon!

Think Tank

From Paul Simpson of Long Eaton

What law would you introduce if you could?
Hanging for child sex offenders
... and which would you repeal?
Human rights act
Which charity do you most like to support?
Charity begins at home...
Name a place local to you that you'd recommend people visit.
Trent Lock
Whose picture would you like to see on a bank note?
My daughter's picture
What device would you like to see invented?
A vehicle that uses water as a fuel
How would you reform parliament?
Needs little reform, just politicians who can be trusted
Who would you like to see in the Big Brother house?
Demolition experts
How can we save the planet?
The planet is not under threat
Name an event at which the British could win an Olympic gold medal.
What song would make a good national anthem for England?
Lilly the Pink
What would you like see entered into room 101?
Winston Smith, a cage and a couple of rats. Oops, read that in a book somewhere...
Suggest a new question for this page.
Is 1984 creeping up on us, or is it here already?

20 Questions (No. 73)

The footballer names from the August quiz were Hunt, Wilson, Callaghan, Charlton, Eastham, Ramsey, Cohen, Moore, Byrne, Peters, Connelly, Banks, Paine, Hunter, Ball, Hurst, Flowers, Armfield, Springett and Stiles. Just seven entries this month from Alex Foster of Derby, Helene Parry of Brentford, Pamela Covey of Woburn, Roger Lord of Aylesbury, Chris Newbold of Leicestershire, Mike Hadley of Lutterworth and Chris Jury of Nottingham. Pamela was first out of the hat and wins the Mensa mug.

This month Mark Sloan has compiled a quiz on people and places in the East Midlands. Send your answers to '20 Questions (No. 73)', [Address] to arrive by 20th October.

1. If you study at Welbeck College, Worksop, for whom will you likely work when you leave?

2. Who once described Mansfield as "that once romantic now utterly disheartening colliery town"?

3. Where in the Peak District would you go to climb the "Downhill Racer"?

4. Which theme park near Ilkeston in Derbyshire closed in early 2007?

5. Which fictional character who wrote diaries lived in Ashby de la Zouch?

6. Where did the last main battle of the War of The Roses take place?

7. In which county are you likely to find "yellowbellies"?

8. Which city is twinned with Chongqing in China?

9. Who was the second woman to serve as leader of a major British political party?

10. The Heights Of Abraham are reached by riding what?

11. Who was known as the "father of fox hunting"?

12. What links Ruddington to Loughborough?

13. Which former England cricket captain allegedly misbehaved with a barmaid in Rothley?

14. Which Leicestershire town is famous for pies and a Python?

15. Which "Rocket" came from Langley Mill?

16. Where did Voo once Ponce In The Park?

17. No Man's Heath is near Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire and which other county?

18. Newstead Abbey is whose ancestral home?

19. Where might you see deer roaming in Nottingham?

20. Smiffy's in Gainsborough is the only what left in the UK?