READING RETIREMENT CENTRE    (registered charity No. 281830)


(Friends in retirement taking relaxation, exercise and education)

December 2020                    Firtree Newsletter                  Issue 502

A very good Christmas to you all and a joyful New Year for 2021 when hopefully we can all relax again and enjoy each other’s company before long. Covid-19 will still be with us but we live in the hope that the new vaccines will control it.

Sadly, our first bit of news is the death of Alan Warner. He was a member for many years, previously our treasurer and more recently one of our Vice-Chairmen. Even though his health made it impossible for him to play Bowls he continued to organise this on our behalf. Nearly always at the Tuesday meetings with Gill, he has been a big part of Firtree’s life for a long time and we will miss him.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Gill and the family. His funeral will be at West Reading on Friday 4th December at 2.00. Numbers unfortunately are restricted.

Zoom goes on and we are planning to use it every first and third Tuesday at 11.00.

On the 1st December, Mark is giving us a Christmas-themed quiz. Then he will give a short talk about the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire.

On the 15th December we are holding a combined “Party Pieces” and Christmas service, again at 11.00. The Rev. David Jenkins will be with us that day and we hope to have some music from Bert on his accordion.

Please………If you can do something for the party pieces do let me know by the 8th. (Contact me as at the foot of the newsletter.)

January is not a month when we go out much but we still have our Tuesday Zooms. On the 5th January Kevin Little will talk about some of the thing that happened to him during the 54 years he worked as a fishmonger in ‘Smelly Alley’.

On the 19th January I shall be giving a talk – ‘a childhood in poetry.’

I don’t need to tell you that we are still under strict regulations about Covid-19 and that is going to make Christmas very strange for many of us. My family gathering is now postponed until Easter but we have been meeting each other every two or three weeks via Zoom and having family quizzes.  This actually means we see more of each other than usual. The trouble with the quiz is that I now take twice as long to understand the question and even longer to get the answer. That’s the trouble with clever children. It doesn’t take long for them to pass us oldies. It’s our chance to set the questions next time but will I get my revenge? Highly unlikely.

Well it looks like we are in for even longer before we can meet together again so we need ideas on how we can do things together. There is no reason why we cannot have a session of music suitable for you to move to, but to do that we need to have some idea about how many of you would like to take part. Also, I would be willing to set up a poetry reading group at which you can read your favourite verse or even your own, or simply listen and enjoy a gentle hour once a month. The gardening group are resting for winter but will soon Spring back.

There is at last good news that a vaccine will soon be available and that we oldies may be early recipients of it. I feel a bit guilty about that when so many people with continuing responsibility are still at risk. I have no wish to catch it but if there was a choice between me and a mother of young children there should be no doubt in my mind as to who would get it first.

Mean time there is no singing of Carols, no shouting ‘behind you’ at the pantomime; no hugging Santa Claus, and definitely no snogging under the mistletoe.

And now for something different!!

A man walks into a doctor’s office and the receptionist asks him what the problem is. He replied “I’ve got shingles’. She said “Take this form and fill it out with your name and address and medical insurance number then bring it back to me and take a seat.  The man did what she asked. Fifteen minutes later a nurse came to him and asked what he had. “I have shingles” the man replied, the nurse took down his height and weight then took a blood sample and took his blood pressure. “Wait here” she said “and the Doctor will see you soon.

Nearly an hour later he was called in to see the doctor. Again, he was asked what he had and the doctor then gave him a thorough examination. The he said “I have checked you thoroughly and I can’t find any sign of shingles at all’

“No” said the man, “that’s because they are outside on my lorry. Where do you want me to put them?”

Every blessing for Christmas and the New Year 2021

If you want to know more about Firtree, contact Colin Ferguson ( – 0118 9482557,  – Mark Bowman – 0118 9677130  –  or Liz Prior on 0118 942 2958

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