Humour and fairytale dreams win the day
On Sunday 2nd October Doncaster Speakers hosted the second round of the annual humorous speech and table topics competitions at The Vikings Hotel,Goole. It was a great venue – good motorway links, easy to find, and with great space for the contest, for lunch, and for parking – couldn’t ask for more! Speakers from nine clubs as far north as Newcastle, as far south as Sheffield, as far west as Harrogate and as far east as Hull were invited to compete to win the honour of representing ‘Area 15’ in the next round of the competition to be held later this month in Manchester.
After being warmly welcomed by Karen Venables and Yvonne McGowan at the door, there was time to chat with familiar faces, network, pick up tips, and make new friends. Then the food, fit for an army of starving Vikings. Nourished by a delicious buffet lunch enjoyed by all,
the competitors were eager to perform, and the audience ready to be entertained. There was a buzz of anticipation and expectation. Time for the humorous speech contest, where participants present their five- to seven-minute speeches.
First up was Harrogate ’s Glynn Harby, with his speech entitled ‘1m 65.1cm’. I really felt for Doncaster ’s Jamie Godfrey, sitting listening to Glynn’s speech highlighting the comic disaster zones of internet dating, knowing he was to deliver a similar speech in a short while. Next up was Anthony Day from Leeds, taking a sideways look at health & safety protocol in his speech ‘Let’s hear it for common sense’ – very topical in this day and age. After that came York ’s Rob Moore’s ‘Toastmasters 2.0’, where he questioned how Toastmasters could be ‘cool’ enough to entice new young members, urging us to make use of modern technology – to consider ‘what would Simon Cowell do?’ Name changes, from Toastmasters which is so misleading, to ‘The Speech Factor’, with the TME becoming the EMCEE – so much trendier. The Timekeeper and Evaluators would become Judges. But then he reminded us you get out of Toastmasters what you put into it: we shouldn’t devalue it. We might want to think what Simon might do, but then do the opposite, as we recognise the difference between gold and fool’s gold.
Rob’s witty take on modern life was followed by Mick Rickwood, from A1 Speakers, who recalled his days as a police officer and some of the almost unbelievable scenarios he’d witnessed in ‘Shades of Keystone’ (please tell me he was only kidding!) Then came Jamie Godfrey, who enchanted the audience with his speech ‘An idiot’s guide to internet dating’, reminiscing about the comparative ease of courtship in his teenage years when he simply had to ask girls to dance with him to Chris de Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’ at the end of the evening, contrasted with the perils of today with internet dating, where no-one quite matches up to their enhanced profiles. Sheffield’s Billal Jamil rounded off the competition with a tongue-in-cheek look at his life experiences as an ethnic minority kid growing up in middle class Sheffield in ‘Silly Sauce and sicken and sips’ – you had to be there!
The competition was close run, but the winners were deemed to be: Anthony’s common sense taking third place, with Jamie’s dating experiences coming a close second to Rob’s clever take on modern life, and why we should resist thinking ‘What would Simon Cowell do?’ in a bid to promote our clubs to the masses, which gained first place.
Twelve competitors entered the ‘Table Topics’ competition, where speakers are invited to give a two minute ‘off-the-cuff’ speech on a set subject. The rush of adrenaline was almost palpable as the competitors walked on stage, not knowing exactly what would be asked of them. A randomly selected topic: French playwright Edmond Rostang’s quote ‘what is life, without a dream?’ formed the basis for the question ‘what do you dream of?’
Responses ranged from a very honest and humorous desire to be able to reverse park from Leeds ’ Trevor Hatib, to Billal Jamil’s dream of being rich – upon which he proceeded to empty his pockets of items he’d acquired from around the room, with a fun appraisal of how they would help him attain his dream. Several speakers, including A1’s Mike De Vies, Leeds’ Janet Jones, Doncaster’s Shelagh Jones and Frederika Roberts and York’s Dougie Brown, shared their – often very strange! – dreams for us to interpret.
Harrogate’s Phil Heath told us about his magnificent feather pillow, which he endeavours to take with him wherever he travels to ensure he can sleep well, while Rob Moore explained that he simply wants to be happy and experience as much as he can, trying things that are a little bit different, and occasionally challenging himself. David Rickwood, from A1 speakers, told us about a surreal experiment he and his mate did when they were 13, trying to make a fly into a pet on a piece of string, while Sheffield’s Declan Moore related his dreams to everything French – wine, letters and women!
The Table Topics was an amazing event, with third place going to Phil, the second to Billal, and the winner being Sally Barber from Harrogate . Sally, a wedding planner, shares the dreams of her clients on a daily basis, and we were magically transported into the fairytale-come-true world of the bride by Sally’s off-the-cuff speech.
All this couldn’t have happened without the tireless behind-the-scenes work of Doncaster Speakers, ably led by President Shelagh Jones, and supported by Michael J Clarke, who stepped in at the last minute to make sure there would be a competition after all.
Thanks also go to all those who took on a role: to Gillian Caldicott and Michael J Clarke, contest chairs; to Michael Bottomley, sergeant-at-arms ensuring the contestants had everything they needed on stage; Yvonne McGowan and Karen Venables, who doubled up their roles, not only greeting everyone, but also acting as Timekeepers; the judges from each club represented, and Dinesh Kaulgud, Area Governor and Chief Judge.
We wish Sally Barber, along with Rob Moore, the best of luck as they represent the Area’s clubs in the next round to be held on 23rd October in Manchester