Probus club members hear poems and prose

The late December meeting of Newton Stewart Probus Club each year is devoted to poetry and prose presented by members.

Content varies between the entertaining, humorous, informative, serious and thought provoking. We began with a little of the last.

The narrator had come across a letter he had written fifteen years ago after a successful cancer operation, followed by his willing agreement to participation in a five year clinical trial which required daily self injection of a substance believed to be innocuous.

He reported to his consultant that the first injection under supervision at the local health centre went well and that he took the recommended paracetamol in case of any side effects. By the evening he was very tired then went into shock, shaking, with a violent headache. More paracetamol was ineffective and he spent two days in bed with painful joints and was quite useless. Earlier assurances that he would be able to drive proved incredible.

He remained on good terms with his consultant and, while withdrawing from the trial, said he was looking forward to his next appointment. He revealed his experience without rancour after a long lapse of time because such episodes are protected by medical confidentiality and seldom see the light of day.

The next item dealt with greed and highway robbery, but evoked childhood memories of Saturday morning radio and Little Billy Goat Gruff. Delivered in Scots vernacular it was satisfying that the big troll from the burn, although not of the internet kind was nevertheless vanquished.

With scarcely a pause we were off to the antipodes and the story penned by Banjo Paterson of over confident Mulga Bill, whose failure to master the transition from horse to bicycle ended in Dead Man’s Creek.

Back in the UK the experiences of the anglophile US author Bill Bryson helped us to see ourselves as others see us, and not take ourselves too seriously.

An Ode to the Prostate Gland by Dr John N E Rankin published in the Scottish Medical Journal was delivered in style by one of our number expert in such matters, and was considered by those in the know to be the best explanation of its functions and malfunctions yet promulgated.

Observations on committee meetings and “being British” were followed by jokes and tall tales which were noted for being entirely respectable.

The day concluded with five members plus an innovative sound effects man presenting a much abbreviated and aberrational pantomime, containing some elements of the story of Red Riding Hood, but much more entertaining.