With all possible respect to the Thanksgiving Comes First brigade, I have to tell you that I am well into Christmas thoughts. hope that is not contrary to your aims and objectives, but even if it is, there's little either you or I can do about it. Yes, I fully agree that Santa Claus or Father Christmas, Rudolf and the rest of the boys in the band should stay secreted away until Advent is upon us - or at least until after Stir-Up Sunday, which is the last Sunday before Advent. All the same, a certain amount of planning does need to be done well before then, especially by those organising Christmas events - or those needing to place orders for stock to sell in their shops.
Stir-up Sunday gets its name from the collect of the day which starts, "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord". This is traditionally a reminder to housewives to make (that is make, not buy) the Christmas pudding. Other traditions surrounding this are hat every member of the family should help stir the ingredients and that, while stirring, each should make a wish. But Stir-up Sunday is still a few weeks away and in the meantime I have been stirring or trying to stir things up in Brighton Lions Club.
I have been a member of Brighton Lions for more than 25 years and in that time the club has been very successful in raising money. The members also take on service activities, but raising funds has never seemed to be much of a problem. What I have started to complain about is the fact that the club has not been spending the money as fast as it has been coming in. Yes, there have been years when we have spent - or committed ourselves to spend - considerable sums, as much as £50,000 in some years. But in the last financial year we spent nearly £12,000 less than we raised and our charitable expenditure reached its lowest level for at least seven years while funds sitting idle in the bank at the end of the year (and not committed or held as essential reserves) were in excess of £100,000.
I made this point in the newsletter I produced and despatched over the weekend. The president almost immediately emailed me to say how much he agreed, but he also pointed out that he has tried to persuade the club to donate funds for two causes recently, neither of which was approved. I agree that giving money for the restoration of an electric tram is not something that Lions should do, but I did half-heartedly support his idea to install defibrillators in secondary school. I say half-heartedly because I needed to be persuaded that this would not be a waste of money. There are few, if any, statistics to indicate how many times these machines would be used and I have a sneaking suspicion that they would hang on walls unused until their became obsolete. But I'm open to arguments to the contrary. I have had to warn the president that his next idea - to donate money to a local charity rescuing stray cats - will not be approved. The club has always insisted that money should be used for humanitarian purposes, not plain animal welfare.
(I don't really want to start yet another paragraph with the word "I" but I can't think of a better way.)
I have started looking into the local talking newspaper (which sounds like an oxymoron) and have found that our president has a direct link in that his best friend takes care of the technology for the organisation. He (the best friend) hopes to convert the newspaper to USB sticks in the nearish future, so perhaps there will be something we can do there. The MS Treatment Centre told me last week (or the week before) that they need money to buy a piece of equipment they have had on loan, so that looks like another £4,000 we will spend.
Who knows, maybe something really big will come up, but I'm sure we could, as a club, be rather more proactive. I certainly hope so.
The daily picture is usually a landscape-type photo and I generally steer clear of portraits, partly because I'm pretty hopeless at them. However, I am quite pleased with some pictures I took at the weekend featuring my six-year-old granddaughter. Here's one of them.