New Year’s Resolutions

Our first meeting for 2010 – and may it be a year of great eloquence and growth in confidence to everyone reading this – was held at the Morningside Country Club on Monday, 11th January. A small and enthusiastic group of members explored the theme of New Year’s resolutions.

The year started off very well with two members returning after an absence of many months. Kay Kotelo had a baby about 7 months ago and Jerry Goodman simply went into hibernation after completing a year as Vice-President Education in July.

It appears that New Years resolutions date back to 153 B.C. when the Roman god Janus was placed at the head of the calendar, January. He is portrayed as a god with two faces; one looking forward into the New Year and the other looking back into the year past. Janus became know as the god of resolutions. A tradition of giving gifts for good luck started in Rome when 1 January was assigned as the start of the New Year. The New Year and with it the exchanging of gifts, however, moved about a bit with Christians in the Middle Ages changing New Year to 25th December and then to the day of Annunciation, 25th March before Pope Gregory XIII returned it to 1st January.

Our president proposed the toast of the evening, not to resolutions but rather to a helpful way of keeping resolutions: to bite-sized chunks. Jerry responded to the toast, true to form, by resolving to “find a better place to hide the bodies” during 2010 and suggested that we should forgive ourselves for our failures.

The first of the prepared speeches was given by Kay in fulfilment of the second project towards a competent communicator. Her New Year’s resolution is to “shut up and get rich”. Her speech entitled obesity was a heartfelt plea to everyone to be aware of obesity and to adjust one’s lifestyle to prevent this chronic, worldwide problem caused as much by culture as by the media’s promise of an instant solution. In his evaluation of this speech, John-Peter Gernaat praised Kay for not only presenting a well structured speech but adding delightful humour and vivid word images. An example was Kay recording that she had been 33 kilograms overweight in the past and on reflection realised that this had been her weight at age nine so that she was a whole 9 year old overweight.

The second prepared speech by Rod Taylor fulfilled the requirements of the 6th project for a competent communicator. Entitled “The last 6 ball”, Rod compared the adventures and successes in his life to a game of cricket. Small achievements being equivalent to a single run while the success of catching his wife, Ruth equivalent to a resounding six. We had intimate glimpses into the private person in some of Rod’s achievements as well as sharing the disappointments of some of the “dropped balls” of his life, such as refusing an opportunity to crew on a Cape to Rio yacht race. Rod, by the way, does not make New Year’s resolutions believing that the time to act is NOW. Keith Bowen had ample scope to heap praise on Rod for an excellent speech within the requirements of this project, but was able to offer some guidance on gesture and body language.

The Table Topics, handled by John Russell, required six speakers to chose from an alphabetical list of the ten most popular New Year’s resolutions corresponding to the rank number they has elected. The impromptu speeches were either so good or so poor that a three-way tie resulted for the best impromptu speaker of the evening shared by Ryan Ebedes, Jerry Goodman and John-Peter Gernaat.

In the grammarians report, John-Peter was able to present an admirable list of well used expressions and word images. The word for the evening, like New Year’s resolutions, did not stick and ‘tenacity’ or ‘tenacious’ was only used by three people on five occasions.

Rod completed the core of the programme with a general evaluation of the evening.

The next meeting of Transformers Toastmasters will take place on the 25th January and everyone is most welcome. Transformers is also looking forward to the 22nd February which will be our 2010 Club Contest Evening with three competitions: English Prepared; Impromptu and Evaluation taking place. Only the English Prepared contest has prerequisites for entry (completion of project 6 for competent communicator), the other contests are open to everyone.

Looking forward to seeing guests are our next meeting.