[My comments in italics]
The secretary appealed for copies of past bulletins from 1957-8 to complete the archive collection [the first years of BIVC – they are still missing].
There were reports of work parties. One at Llwyn-onn Isaf to repair the roof timbers [our rudimentary farmhouse near Barmouth], and one in the Birmingham premises to lay new floorboards [would members do such work now?].
There was to be a colour-slides show of Greece and Greek gramophone records in the Club’s premises.
Someone was considering setting up a sub-club for members to “share the interesting pastime” of tape recording.
The annual dinner dance was to be at the Pavilion Suite, County Cricket Ground – there were only double tickets at 50/-.[In a club of mostly single young people! Were men expected to by a ticket and take a woman?].
It was announced that the next bulletin would be sent out to “various bodies” as part of a publicity drive – so people were urged to send in reports of their activities.
A member wrote vowing never to organise an event again – after 14 people said they’d go to an art exhibition and only 3 turned up: refreshments had been prepared for the expected number.
There was a list of seven ladies who had volunteered to help with typing the bulletin [done on to wax stencils].
Regular events being promoted were: ice skating, recorded music, concerts, bridge, squash, gourmands, swimming and Scottish dancing.
The membership secretary reported that there were 385 members and hoped to increase it considerably. She said the best advertising is amongst friends and acquaintances.
Here is London IVCs selection criteria from 1948:
A. Essential requirements
1. have a good general appearance,
2. be well spoken,
3. have a pleasant manner,
4. show evidence of some cultural interest,
5. show some signs of a positive personality.
C. Undesirable qualities:
2. Artificiality in manner and tastelessness in dress
The selection panel also should “report to Council if they are of the opinion that the number of coloured persons admitted is such as to cause concern”.
This was a special promotional edition. It had a photograph on the front page (of the IVC sailing dinghy in Barmouth).[The next time there was a photograph was in 1973. There had been occasional line drawings scratched in the wax stencil].
The lead article welcomed readers who had received it as part of the publicity campaign. It explained that “we are a club, 400 strong, for graduates and people of similar interests whose ages range from 18 to about 30 years and emphasis is laid upon individuals talking part in activities organised by members for members.” It included an activity card listing events for 1963. It said many young men and women “spend an unhappy time for the first few months in Birmingham, especially if they are beginning a job that is strange to them.”
Other elements of the publicity drive were producing a poster and advertising for 26 weeks in the Repertory Theatre programme. Information was being sent to: large industrial concerns, schools, colleges, Rotary Clubs, professional/technical associations, Law Students’ Society etc. but, it said, personal contact is best.
There was a whole page detailing how the woodworm and dry rot in the roof of Llwyn-onn Isaf was being repaired by work-parties and, whilst this was done, the attic bedrooms were unusable: limiting numbers to 30. It was claimed that work-parties are “surely the most sociable of all IVC events”. One attraction of these was the communal cooking.* It was suggested that work-parties are “always enjoyable and without doubt the best time to make a first acquaintance with the farmhouse. Another attraction of work-parties was said to be the bed-night fee was reduced from 7/- to 5/-. [not much for a weekend’s work!].
*[Why, then, didn’t they have communal meals at other times? (I introduced them in 1975, when I was Warden).
For more about Llwyn-onn see www.JohnPitcock.com/Farmhouse].
There was a long legalistic notice absolving IVC, or any organiser, form any liability for any mishap that might happen on any event. [I don’t think such an exclusion clause would have any effect today].
Someone was proposing renting a Mediterranean villa for two weeks in the summer. Someone else was promoting the “Alpbach Forum” in Austria.
The music club seemed very active – as a special event they were going to a recital by two CBSO musicians in one of their flats.
There was a report on the AIVC conference hosted by North Staffs. It said IVCs then were: London, Birmingham, Manchester and North Staffs. After discussions about their constitutions it was agreed to accept as new IVCs: Liverpool, Oxford, Reading and Nottingham.
It was reported that the cold weather had frozen pipes in the club premises. [Who remembers the 1963 winter (the coldest since 1740)? Some were predicting a new ice-age].
The annual Dinner Dance on the 1st was still be being promoted. It said that the organiser was ensuring equal numbers of men and women so that “even if you have no specific date you can come along”.
The sailing group had an event in the Club premises – “Two R.Y.A. Instructional Films have been booked and will be shown if a suitable projector can be found”.
Members were asked to pick up an IVC car window sticker.
[I remember having one about 30 years ago – an idea to resurrect?].
Some wrote in [mock?] horror that a member had been seen with a hot-water-bottle at the farmhouse when the bedroom temperature was barely below freezing.
There were two pages about Llwyn Onn [our farmhouse near Barmouth] including details of the on-gong DIY repairs to the roof timbers.
Someone who signed himself:
“Your obedient servant Fitzroy Farquhar Featherstonehough”
“Fellow members, I crave your attention for a brief moment, in order to preserve this club from a weevil which, if not killed outright and now, may gnaw out its guts with enormous appetite and prove its destruction.
“Mr Editor. The scene I observed [at a Friday hop] was one giving me the gravest cause for concern. Will you believe me when I say that there was not one single Gavotte or Valeta in the programme? The whole evening was taken up with Foxtrots, Quicksteps, and other movements of almost indescribable sensuousness. How can I tell you about them? The Baradona, The Madison, and most frightful of all the Twisle [twist? See Feb 1962] which is, as far as I could make out, a continuous and dangerous pelvic sway. These so-called dances are no more than one step from the jungle. To encourage the performance of such dances at official functions is indeed grave, and nothing shore of disgraceful.
“I will agree that every young person there was having a thoroughly good time. That is not the point. The Club must ensure in the future that the members at the hops are given not what they (misguidedly) think they want but what they need. It seems that the average age of members is getting too low when such dances as the Twisle are executes with ridiculous abandon. In future … the Twisle and such degrading nonsense should be omitted.” [this article was shortened].
The chairman wrote that there “has been poor communication between members of the club on matters of importance requiring decision and action”. The Secretary had been trying unsuccessfully “to ensure that all matters to be presented at Council meetings [as the committee were then called] are thoroughly discussed by Club and Council BEFORE the meeting”. There followed a page of suggestions how it ought to be done – including having a pre-meeting meeting.
There was a report about IVC being donated a piano and a detailed description of the problems taking it from a member’s 3rd story flat to IVCs Hurst Street premises.
Birmingham were allocated 20 of the 250 places on London IVCs’ house party weekend at a holiday camp near Wokingham (or “a few more if any girls freely agree to share a double bed” [why only girls?]).
There was discussion about the need to find new premises and what they should be like. There was a suggestion of buying or renting a house.
Someone had compiled a list of 50 country inns within reach of Birmingham, accompanied by a sketch map of their locations numbered 1 – 50 (plus The Last Inn, Barmouth).
Another engagement was announced. Someone was quoted as saying “With the current trend prevailing in the club why not a reduced membership fee for engaged couples?”
The editor wrote that the size of the Bulletin had grown from 7 to 12 pages and that this was his last Bulletin as he was leaving Birmingham. He said that “the Bulletin is more than a news sheet, less than a magazine.” and “the Bulletin is not an official organ of the Council” and “It is no secret that I have been in deep waters on more than one occasion concerning the contents of the Bulletin but I have tried to keep it controversial, a part of Club life, a talking point.”
The treasurer, David Roy [who was Lord Mayor of Birmingham 1995-6], reminded members that they could get temporary loans to help finance events.
Someone wrote “Would any member volunteer to take a party of children Youth Hostelling for a weekend – all expenses paid by the Local Authority”. [I can’t imagine this happening now].
Thirteen new members were welcomed to the club.
As usual there was a lot about Llwyn-onn Isaf [our farmhouse near Barmouth], this month three pages – one another lengthy report about progress on the roof repair; one about past and future events there; and information about IVC’s GP14 sailing dinghy.
There were two personal ads for people to flat share, gender specified [these were in quite often].
A second Italian opera and wine evening was planned at the club premises – it said 30 members came to the previous one.
The swimming group organiser promoted swimming – saying that: “the increase in blood circulation removes cigarette smoke from the blood”.
A canoeing weekend was being planned (it didn’t say where). Canoes and life jackets were provided, but people needed to bring camping equipment.
A singing group had been formed – using the piano recently installed in the premises. A concert was planned.
Other regular activities written about were: swimming, wine and dine, ice skating, films, bridge, music, tennis, theatre, Scottish dancing, .
There had been several changes to the committee in recent months. This Bulletin announced the new Activities Secretary, giving his address and phone number. [I notice that the only Bulletin to list committee members and their contact details was the one immediately after the AGM].
There was a report of a London organised AIVC weekend called “California-in-England”. It was in a holiday camp in Berkshire and there were 250 people, 9 from Birmingham. Many activities were organised, including several walks. The writer thought “watching the visual juke-box in the bar” was worthy of mention.
London invited us to take part in their ‘motor rally’; Manchester to a ‘singing weekend’; Reading to a ‘tennis tournament’; North Staffs to join their ‘mountaineering group’ and Oxford to a ‘formal dance’ (their members offering floor space to sleep on).
The rambles organiser, Don Mathews, [he remained a member until last year] wrote that there would be a ramble every Sunday, meeting at The Hall of Memory at 9.30 to share cars.
The ‘Gourmands’ organiser reported on two excellent meals (one Indian and one Italian) prepared by members in their flats.
The Chairman wrote that, in the lead-up to the AGM when “nigh on 20 officers are to be elected or appointed shortly afterwards”, there was to be “a series of articles on club administration. In these, we hope to set down not only details of daily and monthly business but also some of the principals that lay behind the actions of the club’s elected and appointed officials. Were we politicians or embryo Metternichs*, we would hardly require your advice, but we are simple folk called by you to hold office for a year, it is right that we should invite your help in determining policy”. [*Metternich was a 19th century Austrian statesman].
There was a report that the Farmhouse’s small kitchen was congested when everyone was cooking their evening meals. The Farmhouse committee were investigating how to ease the situation – maybe by providing extra equipment; meanwhile people were urged to clear up after they’d finished cooking*. One way to reduce the use of the kitchen was to charge those who camped and used the kitchen 3/6d per night (the same as someone sleeping in the house), instead of the normal camping fee of 2/6d.
[* I expect they were following the same system as members’ kitchens in Youth Hostels. IVC didn’t have communal meals until I introduced them in 1975, when I was Warden. I suppose there weren’t many places to go out to eat in the days before pubs did food: and Welsh pubs were closed on Sundays].
A weekend of camping and hill walking in Snowdon was being organised. People were advised to borrow a pair of Vibram-soled boots, if they didn’t have any. Novices would have a chance to try rock climbing (party size depended on the number of leaders and ropes).
The organiser of the recorded music group explained that it was an opportunity for members to bring along their, maybe obscure, records for others to listen to.
Someone had written two pages on “How to buy Cheap LP’s” – mentioning record clubs, shops, record companies and special offers [these were the days of “Retail Price Maintenance” when shops weren’t allowed set their own prices]. (Next month someone else wrote a further two pages on buying LPs.).
The swimming organiser reported that, now summer has come, Harborne baths are crowded and some people arrived after it was full to capacity – so people were urged to get there by 6.45.
23 new members were welcomed to IVC after two new members’ coffee parties in members’ flats.
Now that the Bulletin had expanded from 8 to 16 pages, the Editor wrote that new methods of presentation were being investigated [it was being produced by typing onto wax stencils then duplicated onto foolscap paper (longer than A4) using our own Roneo machine, then collated and stapled on the last Wednesday of the month]. He said better layout and print quality would require external printing and this was being considered: but it was expensive and the lead time would be 3 weeks [wax stencils continued to be used until 1985].
The editor wrote a summary of the responses to a survey. The response had been about 10% of the membership. Most respondents read the Bulletin cover to cover. Most were satisfied with the format. A majority said there should be “more articles of a general nature” but most did not want crosswords.
There was a report that married members, with and without children, met four times a year at Tamworth Castle [it appears this had been by invitation and is being publicised for the first time]. Married ex-members were also welcome to attend.
Three pages explained how council [as the committee was then called] operated – with articles about what the jobs of chairman and secretary entails. The chairman wrote two pages – he said he saw IVC “as part of the social services of Birmingham … thus the chairman should be able to concentrate his effort for a short years span to achieve what he can for the members of the club. Since there is a meeting or activity most nights of the week, the post requires a fair degree of stamina and total freedom from other restricting activities. The chairman should be available whenever required to help the officers and organisers perform their duties.” The secretary explained that the agenda for monthly council meetings was fixed at a pre-council meeting a fortnight beforehand.
The search for new premises had been unsuccessful – but this had been unnecessary as we had been offered another two years lease on the Hurst Street premises.
Someone, for no apparent reason, had written a two page article about British cheeses [presumably this was one of the articles “of a general nature” the new Editor said he wanted].
IVC were holding a jumble sale and members were asked to start saving jumble.
There had been appeals in previous Bulletins for volunteers to organise the weekly Friday night hops in the club premises – now sub-club organisers were asked to get their regulars to organise one once or twice a year.
Someone had written a two page article called “Safe as Houses” about safety in the home. It seemed to be aimed at women – mentioning housewives and secretaries. It had advice on topics such as: posture when sitting or standing, lifting and carrying, working height (bench, sink, typewriter etc), tidiness.
There was to be a day trip by coach “with, this year, a tank full of fuel” to climb Snowdon: leaving the Hall of Memory at 7.45. Cost 15/-.
A coach had been hired for an October hill-walking weekend in the Lake District. Leaving the Hall of Memory at 6.30 on Friday night (advised to come straight from work, a brief stop to eat on the way); returning late on Sunday (those with cars asked to leave them in the city centre to give lifts home). Transport plus full board in a hotel cost £3.15.0. [£75 in today’s money].
The club premises were being transformed into a casino on a Saturday night – to play roulette and taste wine and spirits.
Anther weekend golfing at Dolgellau was planned, staying in the IVC Farmhouse near Barmouth.
A weekend camping in Wharfedale was planned. Friday night on straw in a barn in Derbyshire (as it would be too dark to erect tents) then on to Yorkshire.
It was explained that the wine-and dine group is for people “bored with the staff canteen or cod and sixpen’orth. The destination is usually a roadhouse offering a little more than a mixed grill, although attempts are made to ensure that members do not feel like mail-train robbers trying to dispose of their loot”.
There were four theatre visits this month – three to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford.
“The most important event of the year” is how the AGM was announced. It was to start at 6.15 at the Midland Institute, Paradise Street. The chairman wrote that “it is not the habit of chairmen to submit reports to the AGM” so he wrote a pre-AGM message “making the single point for your stimulation: that unless many of the younger, newer members take up the role of organising functions and activities within a short time of their admission, the club will gradually fall into a tedium.”
Amongst twenty “Thoughts before the AGM” were:
Never accept an office – it is easier to criticise than do things. Nevertheless, get sore if you are not appointed on a committee, but if you are, do not attend committee meetings.
If asked your opinion by the chairman tell him you have nothing to say. After the meeting tell everyone how things ought to be done.
When attending a meeting, vote for something and then go home and do the opposite.
Agree to everything said at the meeting and disagree with it outside.
Hold back your subscription as long as possible, or don’t pay at all.
If you receive service without joining, don’t join.
The Bulletin Editor wrote a lengthy article saying “A publication such as the Bulletin easily degenerates into a mammoth ‘Information Received’ column, crammed with page after page of club reports, news of births, deaths, marriages and engagements. This must not happen, this is supposed to be a magazine designed to entertain its readers as well as carrying current and useful information of club activities”. He asked people to submit articles: which should “possess the qualities of readability and originality”. There followed a page of puzzles.
A report on a weekend at Llwyn-Onn said that half left Birmingham at midnight – after the Friday Hop, the other half had been to an all-night jazz session before driving there. The following night everyone got to bed by 3.30.
The start of the Scottish Dancing season was mentioned. It recommended informal dress as “after the first 10 minutes jackets ties etc. become superfluous” and to wear “flat soft-soled shoes: such as tennis shoes” and not “stilettos or winkle-pickers”.
You might, like me, have noticed sexism in these bulletins. Another example is this report on a weekend. “The girls took command when the IVC broke new ground with a first-ever visit to the Yorkshire dales. The organisation was therefore characterised by an efficiency and determination that is normally absent.”
Someone wrote a 3 page report on a (non-IVC) 150 mile canoeing expedition on the Wanganue River in New Zealand. They used folding canvas canoes, and carried all their supplies for 10 days, (except for a wild goat they killed en-route).
Two other articles took up over 2 pages – one about playing cards and one about horse-brasses.
There was a list of 37 new members (explaining that the previous month’s list wasn’t in the bulletin because it was not received by the editor – mysteriously being returned by the postman marked “not known”).
The Llwyn Onn news was about work to the water system [water was collected from a nearby stream]. It said “The water, pouring over the waterfall, has always seemed to be more attractive than the supply in the green tube going to the kitchen tap. It now conducts pure water from the filter, while the beautiful waterfall … is now for washing only. The installation of the purifying system … extracts from the water whatever is in it that failed to upset us in the six years we have been drinking it. A “bigger and better Elsie pit was begun” [where the chemical toilet was emptied, (later to be a flush toilet called Flo)].
There was news about the ice skating sub-club – mentioning the ice rink in Bearwood and a new one being built near the IVC premises in Hurst Street.
The music club has “acquired an impressive high quality turntable and pick-up (Garrard 4 HF) which was “bought out of the profits of our 9d levy, which also pays for coffee biscuits and maintenance of the equipment”. And we were offered a more powerful amplifier (a Mullard 5 – 10 watt).
“An appeal. The Editor of this bulletin would be very pleased to hear from any young and talented lady member of IVC who is willing to place herself at his disposal. An ability ti tpe (sorry) to type stencils would be of advantage.”
There were no “general interest” magazine type articles this month.
Scottish dancing was promoted thus: To avoid “rotting no doubt in some flat or lousy bed-sitter” or “lined up on the old goggle box” on Thursdays why not “get with it” and go Scottish Dancing.
The New Year weekend in Fairborne was being promoted. “To make certain of a place … be sure to contact Jenny Austen and leave with her the necessary £2 deposit. … Anyone whose principles prohibit the idea of giving money to a woman can give it to me instead! Peter Telford”.
Although this Bulletin was no bigger than previous ones
– there seems to be more than usual that I considered worthy of writing about.
The Christmas party at the MUO [Manchester Union of Oddfellows] was for members and heir friends only. Cost 5/-, including food.
There was a “Has Beens” hop, also at the MUO “the first of what we hope will be an annual event where ex-IVC types, married, lost, stolen, or strayed from the flock can get together”.
It was reported that the September jumble sale raised £14-0-0 for charity [£250 in today’s money].
The music group were pleased with their new turntable, amplifier and bigger speaker. On 2nd December you could go to Club and “hear an electronic computer sing”.
On the rambling page –
A report on the Malvern Walk;
Plans for the sailors’ group to “stroll over Cader Idris”;
“Newcomer to Birmingham? If you haven’t been to Sutton Park, you haven’t lived! Why not sample its delights with a native on January 5th?”
Council meeting news –
A sub-committee has started looking for new premises.
The chairman’s suggestion “of co-opting one or two members to bring Council nearer viable strength … was left in abeyance [the committee then had 14 members].
The activities secretary reported that “the calendar for the forthcoming year looked promising” and that a Table Tennis and a Language and Debating sub club were “in the offing”.
As an experiment there was to be a linguists’ German evening in the club office, to “include a talk by a genuine German … and German music”
The editor wrote on his page that IVC “caters for twenty or so organised activities and interests of widely different types”. He went on to say that on Wednesday evenings in the Club premises “there is very little social inducement for many members to come along and survey the Notice Boards” especially for the majority who do not live near the city centre and are not “in the fortunate position of being car owners”.
The Editor went on: “The only reliable means of communication that exists between the Chairman, the Council, and organisers on the one hand and most of the IVC members on the other is this monthly Bulletin. The Bulletin should, therefore reflect the pulse of the Club activities as accurately as possible. If activities are going to be supported as much as they possibly can be then they have got to be fully and forcefully advertised beforehand and attractively reported afterwards so that the ‘waverers’ will realise what they have missed”.
To finish he wrote: “The Editor does not think that articles of a general nature have any place in the Bulletin., Such articles are likely to be much more attractively presented in ‘Paris Match’, ‘The Sunday Times’ coloured thing, ’Drum’ or ‘The Quarry Managers’ Journal’” [This is a reversal of the policy written in the October Bulletin and explains why there have been no lengthy articles since we had a new Editor]. The Editor said he would like “to see one or two pages devoted to ‘Letters to the Editor’”.
Skiing in Scotland.
“An obscure weekly called the S***** T**** has been spreading the rumour that it is cheaper to go skiing in Austria than Scotland. My enquiries give Aviemore return from New Street at £18-18-0 which is reduced by 25% for skiers. So far more girls than men have shown an interest. What’s the matter boys, don’t you like the snow?”
There was a report on the Lake District hill walking weekend. The coach, which left Birmingham at 6.15 pm, got to the Pillar Hotel in Langdale at 12.30 “after a comfortable ride up the motorway, with a stop for a meal”.
The Chairman wrote that “the proceeds from the Friday Night Hops [in the clubs’ premises] constitute a considerable proportion to the Club income, and in consequence the size and type of future premises that could be envisaged would inevitably depend largely on the financial success of these dances.” He went on to say that “the quality of the hops should be improved” and that more members should volunteer to help run them, saying “at least six people per hop are required”.
The pre-cursor to the New Year Weekend – a House Party in Fairborne at the end of December – still had places, but the coach was almost full. On Saturday “both frightfully gay and energetic pursuits are on the programme alongside a little je ne sais quoi”.
Having read another whole year’s bulletins I am struck by the quality of the writing: the spelling, punctuation and grammar – this was before word-processors, and without spelling and grammar checkers. Maybe sometimes it was rather too wordy – I have paraphrased much of what was written without losing much meaning.
It is a shame that the print, and paper, were such poor quality.