March 2019

Sandra Clark : Singing witches, authenticity and innovation: Macbeth on the Victorian Stage

Macbeth was one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays in the nineteenth century, and all the major actors, including Samuel Phelps, William Macready, Sir Henry Irving, Helen Faucit and Ellen Terry, tried their hand in the main roles. Productions were characterised by music and spectacle, including large numbers of singing witches. One of Shakespeare’s shortest plays often took more than three hours to perform. The talk considered the range and variety of the productions and the innovations some performers introduced.

February 2019

John Withington : Living to 100 – The Secrets of the Centenarians

Those who came to a very well attended meeting were treated to an entertaining talk by author and TV producer John Withington on living to 100: he was delighted to meet our very own centenarian, Betty Romary (pictured above, with CEDU3A Vice-Chair Sally Whitaker) who recently reached this milestone. Drawing on a wealth of studies and statistical analysis John outlined the factors that could lead to living to one hundred – being female, a good diet (Mediterranean, of course – and avoiding a full stomach), no smoking, no or low intake of alcohol, education, affluence (a higher than average number of centenarians live in Monaco!), a working life that did not involve heavy manual labour, perhaps being a member of the Royal Family, and of course, genes. John illustrated his talk with the stories of centenarians – from all walks of life, including the Labour MP Manny Shinwell (the only centenarian to speak in the House of Commons), cigar-smoking comedian George Burns, the film star Olivia de Havilland, the singer Vera Lynn, song writer Irving Berlin, architect Oscar Niemeyer and aircraft designer Thomas Sopwith, among others. At the beginning of the meeting John asked for a show of hands to ascertain how many would like to reach 100 (not many, it transpired). By the end of the meeting perhaps a few more thought that becoming a centenarian might not be such a bad idea after all …
*John Withington is author of: Secrets Of The Centenarians: What Is It Like to Live For A Century And Which of Us Will Survive to Find Out? Reaktion Books, 2017.

January 2019

Peter Cox : The History and Development of John Lewis and Waitrose

Drawing on the research for his book Spedan’s Partnership: The Story of John Lewis and Waitrose (2010), the centenary of Lewis’s Big Idea, to give the business to its employees – thereafter called Partners – in the form of a Trust, Peter Cox told the story of Spedan’s vision, its early years, how it battled through a testing period during and after the war after its main Oxford Street store was destroyed by bombing, down to its position of pre-eminence today. He brought the story up-to-date and outline his U3A project to document the changing face of the high street East Finchley, Muswell Hill, and, hopefully with a bit of help from CEDU3A members, Crouch End.