Phillip Whearty gave us his viewpoint tonight. He said ...
'I come to Rotary every Tuesday without any recollection of making a decision to do so.
'I just turn up, and like when Jesus appeared to the 10 apostles, tonight the doors were locked but before you get too excited, I gained access through the kitchen.
'Sure at some basic level I keep an eye on the time from about 4 pm and I undertake rituals like checking if Peter Turner's pencil sharpener hasn’t fallen out of his iconic rotary satchel, but otherwise, it’s an automated act.
'In a psychobiological sense, it may be a Pavlov dogs response to the weakest of stimulus, the mere fact Rotary is on.
'Which reminds me of the psychology student sitting in a lecture about Pavlov’s dogs thinking, what a load of bollocks, and then the bell rings and he goes and has lunch.
'My viewpoint under different circumstances could start with 'bless me father for I have sinned….’ because I have a confession.
'I love Rotary for a selfish reason and that reason is all of you.
'Therefore it is you that have made me into the sinner I am.
'To give you a flavour of my offending I don’t always open Rotary Down Under, never read Graham Blick’s remits and think the DG visits are a kind of penance for previous trespasses.
'Over the years I’ve captured some insights into how others view Rotary.
'A colleague when she remembers that I’ll be at Rotary on Tuesday night breaks out in song, “we are jolly woo-tarians “ whilst imitating the actions of the seven dwarfs 'off-to work we go'.
'It is in jest, innocuous I think, but I suspect I store it within the same lobe reserved for prejudice and ridicule.
'I know from other interactions she thinks Rotary is mainly a cabal of old, white and more recently vaccinated, wealthy men.
'Wealthy enough not to have to cancel meetings, to curry attendance at a change-over function.
'Another friend regularly reminds me “oh yes you’ve got Vicars of Dibley tonight” as if I’m heading out for some jesuit spirituality session or a Last of the Summer Wine escapade.
'I remain curious that whilst we have lots of candidates for the dejected Howard who is our Nora Batty, others have advised that belonging to Rotary is a great way to increase the muster at your funeral, obviously hinting I may have a problem in this regard.
'Message to self!, warn Maureen Barber to hold back on the asparagus rolls and halve the fruit cake recipe.
'But for me as a cliché and as patronising as it sounds, you are the reason I turn up and remain engaged.
'There is never a week that goes past that I don’t discover something new about someone or something.
'It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I learnt that one of our members has a PhD in mathematics despite having left school at 15 believing he was not academically inclined.
'I did know Allan Nichols has a doctorate in Electrical Engineering as well as speaking a foreign language but that didn’t help us find the misplaced extension cord.
'I miss people.
'It is why I didn’t take to the zoom meeting option.
'I miss Adrain Brady and his robust comments and views on things. I liked him even though he snatched my script for grace, (before saying grace became taboo), on my first official duty within the club. After 30 years I can still recall being so nervous.
I'd been practising delivering the three liner for weeks and still botched it. Only David Knight praised my effort with a model toastmaster critique utilising the good news, improvement, and end on a compliment trinity that I was so grateful for. Adrian once told a friend of mine wearing a number 8 rugby jersey, she was built more like a prop. Of course, it could have been worse he could have said hooker.
I miss Ron Findlay. Anybody that didn’t engineer sitting at his table on Quiz Night was preordained to failure.
I miss Ross Garner’s "hey boy tell me, you’ll know this”, and the dichotomy of him segueing seamlessly from the frivolous to the serious within the same sentence.
I miss Les Austin's never-sit-still work ethic, Jim Dearsly’s party political broadcasts, poorly disguised as a question for the guest speaker but we should note that this is somewhat mitigated by his able understudies Michael Parker and Nick Walmsley.
'I miss Ted Nation's boundless generosity, Ray Joines's bumbling kindness of spirit, George Bright's fun, Peter Lillico’s willingness to help back the trailer and Gwyn Akeroyd's frank bulletins, if for no other reason it ensured they were read.
'I miss Graeme Press, Noel Evans, Derek Oldershaw and Spencer Harris’s wise counsel.
'My viewpoint is that whilst I’d like to be standing here espousing a purist devotion to Rotary, much like Sir Thomas More’s commitment to his faith and the law, it is you, the members, who power my Rotary magnet.
'And for that, I’m truly grateful.'