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Chairman Ian Wilkinson opened the meeting and announced the death of Honorary Member Edward McKenzie, for whom we stood in tribute for a minute's silence.

Tuesday, 17th May 2016, 08:00 am

Secretary Fraser Suffield told us that all was well administratively and that the next Probus Quiz will be at Alnwick Cricket Club on October 7, at 10.30am.

We also voted in favour of investigating the possibilities of taking occasional bus trips.

We were informed by treasurer Forbes Grant that all was well, and our chairman introduced an ex-chairman in the shape of Brian Crawford. Brian was to give us a talk entitled France in 1946.

Brian told us how he had gone to France in 1946 to meet up with his pen pal Georges. This was much more of an adventure than at first perceived because Brian was to go from Darlington to Macon, just North of Lyon, and he was going on his own. He was 11 years old, spoke almost no French and had his allowance of £25 sewn into his clothing. He also had 12 new pennies that were “polished and sparkling like gold”.

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He had to cross London from King’s Cross to Victoria, get to the cross-Channel ferry in Dover, then disembark and find the train in Calais. Not only that, but he had to change trains in Paris, finding his way from one station to another.

We must also remember that France had only been saved from the occupiers during the last year and things were not yet on an even keel. In fact, during his visit he witnessed the return of a local woman who had been the mistress of a German commandant and her retribution at the hands of the locals.

The holiday must have been a great success as Brian went back each year until he was 18.

His was a fascinating story, told with aplomb, enjoyed by the audience, and well deserving the fulsome thanks that were given by Roger Howell.