Mum and her family

Dear mum, 70 Reasons why

The Entertaining Speaker (2007-06) #5 – Speaking After Dinner (8:00-10:00 min)
Deliver an entertaining after-dinner talk on a specific theme; Deliver the talk using the skills developed in the preceding projects.


Hello! Hello! HELLO WEMBLEY!

It is really good to see you all here. I want to thank you all for coming.  I really appreciate the effort, planning and resourcefulness that has gone into this weekend.

The seventeen of us have assembled from three different countries around Europe, travelled by land, sea, and air, and negotiated leave for our children with four different school and head teachers!

The is no greater testament or present to my mother than all of us coming together to celebrate.

It is the 21st birthday of my delightful mother. It is a rumour that the candles cost more than the cake. That is wrong. They cost far more!

It is not commonly appreciated that with every coming birthday you DO NOT lose every age you have been. You collect them like layers of a Russian Doll you don’t lose them!

I can see the inner child in  mum when she talks to the young grandchildren after dinner around the garden table in Gozo. Mum is a great story teller. The children love to hear tales of their parents mis-adventures.

One of my faux pas was to be sent home from school ill with flu. By about day three I was bored and testing my mother’s patience.  Three days of watching Rainbow with Zippy and Bungle is enough for anyone.  Thus, mum decided to set my up with a job of tearing up fabric off cuts from her interior design business for sale as patchwork square. She piled bags of the stuff in my bedroom. For hours I worked my way through bag after bag, sheet after sheet tearing, tearing, and tearing.  Tearing is great for the aggression and adrenaline.  Finished. Job well done.

At some point when mum went to take these patchwork squares to the jumble sale she became horribly worried that lots and lots of these pieces were the very same fabric she had sent to be made up into our own kitchen curtains. It took another twelve months for my parents to save up for the kitchen curtains.

Children,  your granny was a naughty girl too. When she was young she could ride her bike with no hands and it was much more exciting that riding safely and sensibly. She even taught her younger sister to ride without hands but Amanda only made it as far as a thick bunch of stingy nettles. Your granny’s mother was very cross with her for causing all that chaos.

Furthermore, when your granny was four or so she and the boy next door vanished. There was a terrible to do as worried people searched and search. Eventually, they were found over 2 miles way talking to your great-great grandfather’s horses.

I on the other hand was three when I wandered out of the garden to follow the combine harvester and watch the harvest many fields away. Eventually I was brought by back a farmer who saw me standing at the edge of the field with head just visible over the crop.

There is a delicate moment when one is reunited with a missing child. You don’t know weather to hug them from joy or smack them for being naughty and causing all the stress. My mum chose the right one!

I can see my mum as the teenager playing cards and discussing schools and sport with Harry, Anais, and Gigi. I can see the clever competitive glint in her eye.  My mother went to a boarding school set amongst the cast iron valleys and chapels of Wales and became keen at hockey, bridge and tennis. At one point her tennis practice partner was Mark Cox, a one day Wimbledon prospect.

I can see mum as the parent talking to my generation about the ins and out of property choices and making good investments as well as turning homes out of houses. As many of us will know my mother has owned and renovated nine or more homes and turned that into a career as an international interior designer. She is a generous wealth of knowledge and support but rarely of unsolicited advice.

In retirement in Gozo my Mum’s current friends marvel at her knowledge of where to find the best chefs and at which restaurant. They are left incredulous at her near minute perfect precision to catch the last ferry back to the island.  They are amazed at her tips on the iPad, Kindle, and Candy Crush saga

In the end it is not the years in a life that count but the life in the years.  Mum sure packs a punch into hers. So, I hope,  in the next years we will gather again for mum’s 21st birthday.

To my mother the one and only



In reality in open plan restaurants, with the privacy of other diners to mind, it is very hard to do any speech. So I didn’t and kept it short and did the real versions at Cranfield and Northampton Toastmasters Clubs.

I got lots of really positive feedback about how the speech drew in every age group and how it was humorous, affectionate and tender without being sickly and sentimental.

My weaknesses if anything are in delivery, pacing and making the transitions clearer. Again it comes down to practice and making time to make that happen in front of the bath room mirror.

I’ve now complete the advanced Manual the Entertaining Speaker and have chosen to move on to “Interpretive Reading”

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