Unless otherwise stated the monthly meetings will take place at the Union Church and Community Centre, Weston Park, N8 9TA. Doors open at 10.00 a.m for tea and coffee. Talks begin at 10.45 a.m.
Alexander Zhuravlyov : Putin forever?
Alex’s talk will look at Vladimir Putin as a manifestation of the major trauma that Russian society is going through following the collapse of the USSR. He will challenge the perception of many people that Russia is a communist, or, at best, a post-communist country. His talk will cover also the emergence of Putin in St Petersburg, the earlier corruption scandals there, and the sociology and psychology of his mass support. This will be an opportunity to think about Putin and Russia following the March 2018 presidential election.
Alex works for the BBC Russian Service as a producer. He started work at the BBC in 1991, having arrived from St Petersburg where he was a university lecturer. He covers both international and Russia-based stories, writing for the Russian Service site in Russian. Over the last 25 years he has undertaken numerous reporting assignments, including covering the first Obama presidential campaign in 2008. Alexander is an active member of the Crouch End & District U3A.
Louise Stewart : Ally Pally – a Palace for the People?
Louise Stewart is the Chief Executive of Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust and has overall responsibility for the work of the Trust and its trading company. She will give us an overview of the history of the Palace and then outline the exciting developments at ‘Ally Pally’ such as the the opening up of the East Wing, the Theatre restoration, creative learning opportunities and planned events.
Louise has over 25 years’ experience in tourism, culture and regeneration. She has been Deputy Chief Executive of the National Tourist Board. She has also led regeneration and business development in the regions.
Carl Parker : What is Terrorism?
What was the pathway to where we are today and what risks does it present to us? An overview of what terrorism is, its historical context, what is that terrorists want, what are the differences and commonalities between ideologies, the change in the terrorist threat in the UK through the 20th and 21st centuries, the various ways that a terrorist campaign can end and concluding with some speculation on what threats may arise in the future. If time allows there will be a look at the overall CONTEST counter terrorism strategy with specific focus on the Prevent stream.
Carl has lived in Haringey since 1981, moving between Wood Green, Finsbury Park, Tottenham and Crouch End. Despite graduating from Birmingham University with a law degree, he has not worked in the legal profession. Most of his working life was in local government being employed by local authorities north and south of the Thames. Since the mid-90s he has worked in the area of community safety, for more than ten years working on crime analysis while the last ten years saw him coordinating the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy for the London Borough of Croydon.
Dr Roberta Cremoncini : The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
Roberta is the Director of the Estorick Collection
Our speaker in April was Graham Bennett, a member of the Crouch End & District U3A who took us back to a time when an exciting and groundbreaking Dance Company came out of Russia, created and led by the impresario Serge Diaghilev. This was the Ballet Russes, which for 20 years brought together some of the greatest artists, composers and choreographers of the time to collaborate on the creation of dances that shocked, entertained and enthralled audiences and which had a very special relationship with London. The talk described the careers of two of Diaghilev’s leading dancers, Lydia Lopokova from St Petersburg and Hilda Munnings from Wanstead, whose name would be changed to Lydia Sokolova. Lydia Lopokova was to marry the leading Economist, John Maynard Keynes. Graham pointed out many places around London that had close association with the Ballet Russes, including the studio in Floral Street where Pablo Picasso painted a frontcloth for the ballet Le Tricorne, The Three Cornered Hat, and the many venues where the company performed, including the Coliseum, Royal Opera House and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The talk was illustrated with images of the imaginative sets and costumes that the company created, many of which have survived to this day, and, most importantly, looked at the legacy that Diaghilev left behind which created the dance scene we enjoy today. The founders of some of our major dance companies were all members of Ballet Russes at various times, Marie Rambert, Ninette de Valois, Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin.
Our speaker this month was Robin Lustig, long-time presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight. He talked about his career as a newsman and the major events that he reported on – for example, the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the inauguration of Barack Obama, when he visited Alabama to gauge to reaction to this event by interviewing African Americans and white racists. He had visited over 90 countries, including Afghanistan and pre- and post-Saddam Iraq. Looking over his long career, first in print and later in radio journalism, Robin gave an insight into the how technology was revolutionized the business of reporting stories. He explained that when he first started out, there was not the immediacy of digital technology, and one of essential aids to getting information was the public telephone box! Now of course everything was now so different: the internet has totally changed the way people got their news. He warned, however of the dangers of fake news, and made a plea for people to still buy print newspapers before they disappeared. The world still needed investigative reporting. Robin recalled that his favourite interviewee was Nelson Mandela, and his most distasteful Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadžić. He had also been moved by interviewing young people in Africa, and learning about their ambitions. Speaking about the BBC, Robin explained that it was unable to compete with the power of FANG – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, although for about 42p a day for the licence fee payer it represented great value, particularly in the delivery of news. One of his concerns was that budding journalists were no longer coming from all walks of life: often such people had be supported financially in the early years of their careers perhaps by family members who had the means to support them. After his talk, which was interspersed with readings from his autobiography, Robin took a number of questions from an attentive audience.
Jennifer Bell, John Hinshelwood, Valerie Flessati and Joanna Bornat from Haringey First World War Peace Forum, described the work of the group. Since 2014 they have been researching the lives of men who resisted conscription during the First World War in what is now the London Borough of Haringey.
They shared the fascinating and hidden stories of a part of London which saw the highest proportion of conscientious objectors in Britain between 1916 and 1918, and spoke about a successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid to erect a local memorial to the 350 local men who stood out against war.
Our first meeting of the year in our new venue attracted a record turn-out of members, to hear a polished presentation on the plans for Hornsey Town Hall by the project architect, Katy Ghahremani, a director of Make Architects. Planning permission for the scheme was granted by Haringey Council in December 2017, and work is expected by carried between 2018 and 2020. The main thrust of the presentation was how an at-risk and Grade II* listed building from 1935, built to the designs of architect Reginald Uren and an outstanding example of Modernist architecture, was to be restored to its former glory. With the help of specialist conservation teams and drawing on archive sources, Make Architects will oversee the restoration of the former town hall to include workspaces, event venues and a hotel. The scheme also includes the redevelopment of the square in front of the building. The cost of the restoration will be funded by a number of residential blocks to the rear of the town hall. Judging from the questions posed by a number of U3A members, the residential element of the scheme seems to be the most controversial.
For our final Monthly Meeting of 2017 we welcomed art historian Estelle Lovatt for her talk on Fun and Irony in Art. Illustrated with a series of paintings ranging from the Renaissance to contemporary art, her presentation pointed out the use of hidden, deceptive or playful images by the artists, and was both enlightening and entertaining. Estelle’s presentation helped many of us to better understand the work of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, advising us to “just think of it as a self-portrait” when Emin’s ‘unmade bed‘ came up on the screen. Once again this was a very well-attended event with the welcome addition of mince pies and mulled wine to finish.
Our November speaker was historian and sociologist of economics Tiago Mata, Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies, University College London. His current research involves a study of “economic journalism”. His talk was essentially a history of The Economist magazine, and its role in disseminating and interpeting news of the economy, from both a liberal and conservative point depending on its editorship and ownership.
At the October meeting Peter Cox read excerpts from his book Growing Up in London. The book is based on interviews with over 100 U3A members, aged between 75 and 95. For the audience of about 100 members of the Crouch End & District U3a Peter’s talk was a nostalgic trip, evoking many memories of growing up in war-time London, and the austerity period thereafter … memories of life at home and at school, illness (before the National Health Service, food, shopping, the outbreak of war, the Blitz, being evacuated from London, military service, leisure entertainment, and love and marriage.
Inaugural meeting of the Crouch End & District U3A