What is the most vivid dream that you can remember? This was the question posed by Toastmaster of the Evening (and club President), Ruth Taylor to everyone who participated in any formal capacity at our meeting of 10th May. As a result everyone was introduced with the revelation of this most intimate secret – dreams are very intimate and we usually do not reveal them to others! The thought that it would be wonderful to have an interpretation of dreams was expressed several times during the evening.

I dream from time to time that I can soar through the air without aid simply by stretching and lifting my feet off the ground. The sensation is phenomenal.

The toast of the evening was given by John Russell who spoke among other things of a mechanic in remote Botswana who discovers the solution to problems with vehicles he offers to repair in his dreams at night. John offered the toast to “dreams, visions and obsession”.

The word of the evening reflected dreaming in a wakeful state. It was “aspire”, with all its variations including “aspiration”, which is “to long, aim or seek ambitiously”. We join Toastmasters because we aspire to improve our public speaking skills. The aspiring Toastmasters and guests used the word four times when they had the floor.

Our meeting was graced with two guests, Angelica, who has visited us a couple of times before and we hope will join us as a Toastmaster, and Lerato, who was our guest for the first time, as well as a visiting Toastmaster from Blantyre Toastmasters Club in Malawi, Dr. Matthews Mtumbuka, who is here to complete in the Division H contest on Wednesday, 12th May.

Three prepared speeches were delivered. Our newest member, Faruk Du Pont, presented his first ice-breaker speech telling us about his life and himself. We are always privileged to learn so much about our new members through their candour in their ice-breaker speech. He was born in Mozambique but his parents felt there were more opportunities in South Africa and emigrated here. His parents had hopes of him becoming an engineer or an accountant, but he had other ideas. These ideas changed with age. When he saw how happy it made people whenever their motor car was repaired after the inconvenience of it breaking down, he decided that mechanic was his life’s goal. Later this was replaced by pilot and dreams of many countries. Finally be has become a forex trader. In his own time he delved into the deeper meaning of life. Faruk demonstrated that he already has many qualities that will make a great speaker.

Keith Bowen presented a project 9 speech from the Competent Communicator manual – persuading the audience. Keith’s speech entitled “The part you can do” encouraged us all to install a solar water heater. Our geysers are the single largest consumer of electricity in our homes and therefore of the money we spend on electricity. Yet, we live in a country where the sun shines most days and its warmth is free. The saving on electricity will repay the solar water heater in three years – without the Eskom rebate that most companies work back into their price anyway. The aging power infrastructure and overall lack of generating capacity that both lead to cold, early morning showers – the result of power blackouts – can be mitigated with your own solar water heater. So even if you have to shower in the dark, you shower with hot water! A pretty persuasive argument.

Finally, our visiting Toastmaster from Blantyre honoured us with a speech entitled “Turning Moments” in practice for the Speech Contest two evenings later. His speech was very personal and told of moments in life as a child that were turning points. He had us all captivated as he recalled an illness that required his mother to take him on a four hour walk to reach competent medical assistance and a four hour walk back home. The strain of the journey aggravated the pneumonia and during the night his condition only deteriorated. His mother’s love took her to find a herbalist in the middle of the night, whose remedy provided relief within an hour and has prevented a recurrence to this day.

We had an enormous amount of fun with the Table Topics under the guidance of Ryan Ebedes as Table Topics Master. He asked five people speakers to represent South Africa and face five questions from visitors to the World Cup Soccer event. The prepared questions were as silly as any ignorant visitor might ask and the responses from the ‘ambassadors” often led the poor questioner up the most amusing garden path. The questions were:

Whether there were ATMs in South Africa; to which Mary Byrne give complete assurance.

How visitors should deal with elephants in our streets; to which Keith Bowen responded that they are well trained and even offer magnificent rides.

Is a licence required to hunt kangaroos; that flummoxed Cheryl-Lynn Langley a little but she assured the asker there are hunting opportunity aplenty in South Africa.

Climbing Kilimanjaro; to which Rod Taylor offered the splendour of the Drakensberg Mountains.

How does one determine north; to which John-Peter Gernaat gave a number of natural phenomena that would always guide the visitor to find north no matter where they were.

After the evaluations of the prepared speeches and the grammarians report, Ryan Ebedes set the stage for the Transformers Debate Special that will that the place of Table Topics at our next meeting on 24th May. Two teams of five speakers will persuade the audience that their team has the best credentials to undertake the first manned journey to Mars. Each speaker will have 2 to 3 minutes and alternatively speakers from each team will speak. Ryan asked for speaker who randomly drew the team they’d represent. The teams selected team leader who have gone off to motivate their teams.

We therefore invite as many guests as will come to be an audience to this Debate Special on 24th May. Guests are always welcome at our meetings.