Part 18 of our blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community – late 1979 / early 1980
Back in 2014-5, KLS Member Howard Webber wrote a series of articles for our community magazine casting a light on days gone by. He had been looking through copies of our publications from the inception of our community in 1967 and throughout the Seventies. We are now re-publishing these articles for a wider audience – we hope you will enjoy Howard’s inimitable style as he accompanies us into yesteryear, with some poetic license …….(please note, that where individuals are no longer with us, we refer to them by their initials)
Dear Readers – I left both of you with a cliffhanger last month.
As a humble successor to GW as Hon Sec of our esteemed institution, I was troubled to read of the difficulty we experienced from late 1979 in securing her replacement. This came to notice in a tasteful salmon-coloured insert in the Dec 1979/Jan 1980 Kingston News, headed in bold type: CRISIS! IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR ALL OUR MEMBERS, informing all who read on that G had reached the six year limit allowed for Council membership (does that still apply…? Please?) (2021 Ed – no), that she must retire at the following AGM, and that ‘without an Hon. Secretary, the affairs of our Synagogue could well grind to a halt’. (I’m glad to report that I have far less influence on the affairs of our Synagogue.)
Was it the sexist bad old days or just a progressive little joke to inform prospective candidates that ‘your sex is immaterial’? Anyway – it didn’t work. No-one came forward, and in the February 1980 issue, our Chairman, HB, berated the congregation like a particularly peeved Old Testament prophet: ‘The habit of the majority of this congregation of sitting back and expecting “someone else to do it” has not worked this time’. He concluded icily: ‘I shall look forward to hearing from those of you who are interested in the continuance of our Synagogue affairs’.
A typical KLS compromise was reached at the AGM in April 1980. (PF-J described the AGM as ‘vigorous and controversial’. They seem to have lost those qualities over the past 35 years, except for the odd controversy stirred up by these innocent wanderings through the past.) No volunteers having appeared, G’s husband S (already a Council member) had very kindly stepped into the breach, to ensure that the administration of the Synagogue did not break down’.
But it was not all gritty administration in the corridors of power as the 1970s ended. Chanukah was celebrated and 1979 seen out by the Women’s Society in typical style with ‘one of those marvellous quizzes created by our Joint President SR’; while the Young Marrieds, just as typically, marked Chanukah with a ‘games party – horse racing, bar billiards etc’.
There was, however, also more worrying news from both camps. Apparently, the Women’s Society ‘had a most entertaining evening on November 7, when M was ‘persuaded’ to act as the guinea pig for the Oriflame Cosmetic demonstration’. Is it just me, or is there something deeply sinister about the quotation marks around ‘persuaded’? Had the lessons of the film Marathon Man, seen at KLS a few months earlier, been taken too literally to heart? Had M been found to be a spy from the Young Marrieds?
Fortunately, the dawn of the 1980s was celebrated with a ‘Tramps and Toffs’ new year’s eve party; of which more, perhaps, in a future issue.