I write occasional daft emails to fellow members of my woodturning club.  As we get new members, some of them are stupid enough to ask me for some of the older emails.  As time passes and the read them, they will learn never to ask again - but meanwhile I have to dig into my email archives and find old items and then send them one by one to the unlucky recipients.

You would think they would find more useful things to do with their lives than read the sad wittering's of this old fool and try to make something of their lives - but no!  Any that appear here will do so in reverse order, there are many reasons for this, but logic is the main driver.  If there is one thing I have - it is logic.  Not much else to be fair - but I do have logic.

I have only recently worked out how to put the pictures in, so many are still missing.  I will continue to work on it.

72 - About Turn

I warn you – this is a long one.

Hello my dusty pals.

So – Covid-19 then. What a bugger.

A very sad bugger with so many people passing before their time, or out of work, or struggling with no home, or just plain bored, the list goes on.

I guess some of us are luckier than others – we may have some sort of good health and are able to pass the time at home. There are worse things in the world than staying at home to read a book or watch the TV. Alternatively, you could have a good time and do some woodturning.

Terry Buckle has never got on so well with his good lady wife. He passed this on.

TERRY’s WIFE shouts from upstairs: “Terry! – Do you ever get a shooting pain across your body like someone’s got a voodoo doll of you and they are stabbing it?”

TERRY: “No?”

Silence for a moment – and then…

TERRY’s Wife: “How about now?”

What have you all been doing? I have been busy – not as busy as I would like – but not too bored either. I got turned down by the NHS as a volunteer – and by Tesco as a delivery driver – more on both of those stories later.

There have been a few things happening as some of you will already now. Let us see what is on the agenda today.

  1. Cancelled demonstrations

  2. Committee meeting

  3. On-line YouTube shows

  4. On-line club demonstrations

  5. Club competitions

  6. On-line communications with the rest of the members

  7. Photos of lock-down activity for the website

  8. The KVWT shop can take orders – collect from Bracknell

  9. Competition pieces for while we are remote

  10. Q&A sessions

  11. Wood-turning quiz

That seems enough to start with. Let’s begin with number 1

Cancelled Demonstrations

We had a committee meeting – yes, we did! It was done remotely with all of us sat at home wearing our day-pyjamas (I had my pooh-bear ones on).

At this meeting we confirmed that whatever Bojo (Boris Johnson) says – we are not having a club meeting at the hall in July, August or September.

The logic we have used is quite simple really, the general age profile of the club is elderly (I am being polite here) and as you know we sit together in a very cosy manner in the club – social distancing is simply impossible.

We were due to have John Boyne-Aitken in July (The Bowler Hatted Turner) and he puts it better than me – this is part of a reply to me when I postponed his booking this afternoon.


Hi Phil,

I hope you and your family, and the club members are all staying safe and well. To be honest I fully expect not to do any demonstrations for the rest of this year but thank you for letting me know. I have tried to set up online demonstrations but at the moment my internet is not powerful enough to upload a video or do a livestream. As soon as it is (I am trying to change provider) I will be letting everyone know and hopefully I will then be back in business.

Although it means I miss out on earning a fee I fully support your thoughts about the safety of your members, and I think every club will be doing the same thing. Better for me to lose a fee than for your club to lose members to this virus.

Please pass on my regards to your members and tell them that I hope to see them all sometime next year.


I always liked John!

We have taken ourselves up as far as October before we consider a next move, and we will decide on that in due course – although I think it will be the same as regards meeting in the club is concerned.

Will we do anything else meanwhile – yes, we will. We are an active club and as such we want to make sure the members are well catered for to the best of our ability, and within proper safety boundaries. As to what we are doing – stay with me dear reader – and I will reveal our plans.

Committee Meeting

Taking the plunge with technology the committee decided to meet and discuss matters of great moment and to try and imagine what last week’s football results would have been.

So, while wearing our day-time pyjamas we discussed which meetings would be held and which we thought should be postponed. We already know we have missed Gary Rance and sadly also a great friend of the club – Tony Halcrow. John Aitken was next in line in July – and Gary Rance was moved from May to August. Sadly, those have now been moved to next year, again pending us investigating an alternative solution.

We discussed the remote club demo we undertook with Martin Saban-Smith (alongside the Berkshire and Surrey clubs) and agreed that this sort of event could provide us with some much-needed focal points if we repeat them later this year.

As well as trying to get remote UK Turners – we also agreed with Berkshire (and we have a pending request with Surrey) to go further afield and perhaps get demonstrators from the U.S. to entertain and educate us.

Once we have movement on that front I will report back, but it is moving quickly.

Saturday workshop temporary on-line replacement

Another point of discussion in the committee was the loss of our Saturday workshops. We had a request from a new member who was missing the interaction with the more senior members of the club (by which he kindly meant old farts) who are generous in passing out their tips and advice on Saturday mornings. He asked if we could organise something like a Q&A session on-line where members could join and ask questions from a panel of elderly, half asleep, slightly sober old blokes in bath chairs, some of whom still had a few teeth left.

Yes, is the answer – and I am organising this for Wednesday May 13th at 7.30pm. I will send out details on how to join this on-line event. Everyone will be able to speak to each other on-line – so those you have been missing – as long as they join in – will be there to chat.

That is not all. We do have contact details on the club website as part of our buddy scheme, so if you want to ring one of our buddy members to ask a question then please do. Details are on the notice board page of our website here. http://kvwt.co.uk/notice-board.php

Lest you forget – we have a large hints and tips section as well. http://kvwt.co.uk/hints.php (and a bonus for the ladies is you get a large picture of John Austin on that page totally free)

So – diary entry for May 13th at 7:30 for all members for an on-line social and Q&A session.

Call-out for clever old farts

As per the note above – we need a couple of volunteers to answer questions as they arise. Let me know if you are happy to be clever on the night! 😊

While we are on the subject of “on-line”

As we experience the current unpleasantness, we are having to find things to do in order to keep our minds active. Personally, I spend a lot of time online watching other woodturners, and some of them are incredibly good.



It will come as no surprise that I follow Martin Saban-Smith who is online twice a week, on Tuesday evening and on Saturday lunchtime. I am also appearing with him on May 7th to run a charity woodturning quiz – see separate note below on that subject.


I also follow Emma Cook – The Tiny Turner. Wayne the Woodturner, Stewart Furini and Chris Fisher. How I get time for anything else is beyond me. All of these and more can be found on YouTube.

Club membership

Sadly, the lock down occurred when we were busy renewing our membership. While we have had members renew – there are some that were slightly behind the queue. We do not want to lose anyone – and we would like you to renew, although you will be asking “why?” as nothing is happening.

Well it is and it will be. Obviously, we have some running costs such as insurance to pay for, but naturally now we are not paying for hall hire. We are going to be investing in remote demonstrators and other on-line items which will cost money, and hopefully be entertaining.

Those members who have joined and paid – and others who renew before next year, will be in line for some sort of discount/reduction (still to be decided depending on numbers) for next year. We discussed this at the committee meeting this week. We will recognise those who have renewed this year and who have not had what they would normally expect as value for money.

We still want to offer activities to members for the remaining part of the membership year – so please do not miss out by not re-joining. Remember – we will recognise the loss of this year’s activities. Email John Austin and he can offer several ways to pay which do not involve you leaving your house! John is contactable on john@jayay.co.uk or on 07766 600266. If you give him a ring he can organise very secure payment with you.

What have you been up to?

Denis is still trying to keep the website up to date and he has asked if any of you have pictures of what you have turned during the lock-down period. If you do have any snaps, send them to Denis at kennetvalleyturners@btinternet.com and he will put them on our web-site.

The rest of the committee will kill me for this (especially Denis) – but perhaps you are just as proud of something that did not involve wood-turning – just send in the picture – we could all do with a giggle!

Monthly Competition

Again – a subject in the committee meeting. We have decided that whatever points we have awarded in the two competitions this year will roll over to next year. That is the easiest and simplest way to do things. I am sure there are loopholes we have not thought of – but that is where we have decided to stick.

Also – I suggested that as we have driven a coach and horses through the schedule this year – the first competition when we come back together is whatever you think is your best piece turned during the lock-down. Have fun with that one then!!

Club Shop

We have opened it for some sort of business. Ray Brindley has said he is happy to take orders over the phone if you are short of supplies. You will need to contact Ray (raybrindley2000@yahoo.com or 01344 421335 Or 07751 889211) Also you will need to collect from Ray as Matron says he is not allowed out. He lives in Bracknell.

Let us say on-line again

Yes – that seems to have been all I have talked about so far. Sadly, that is the realism at least for the next period until we are far enough away from the lock-down for people to feel safe to sit side by side. So – the Q&A session on May 13th can be joined from home, using a tablet or a computer. I will send a link to that meeting along with instructions on how to join. I do not mind having a practice session to make sure you can join successfully, just let me know if you want to test the process.

We want to book some demonstrators, from the UK or perhaps even America, so that we can bring some demonstrators into your front rooms for the members before we get to meet in person again. Even when we are all together in the hall again – we may even connect online from Padworth and broadcast the “distant” demonstrators on the big screens. These would be demonstrators who live a long way away – perhaps Sheffield for example. We can do this in a fully interactive two-way conversation-way so that we can still have the normal chat and banter with them – but without the time and cost associated with 4 hours travel each way.

Finally – I am going online with a charity woodturning quiz on May 7th – see the next little note.

Charity woodturning quiz

I mentioned before that I have been watching a lot of turning on-line. As I type this, I am keeping half an eye on Jeff Hornung who is going a live demonstration from St. Louis Missouri. As with many of these things – especially in the UK – there is a “community” of people who tend to watch these things on a regular basis. I had to leave a demo early the other week when we were watching Emma Cook (The Tiny Turner) and I typed into the chat/comment window that I was leaving in order to do a family on-line quiz.

Yes – I do make my family suffer with quizzes as well as you lot. As a result, a lot of people jumped in quickly and asked me to do an online woodturning quiz. I do not know why – but I said yes – and went away and wrote one. The only problem is that I do not have a video streaming facility so I said I would seek help and then organise a date.

Martin Saban-Smith very quickly said he would help. On Thursday 13th he is doing part of a series of “Finishing with Lacquer” demos – and the Thursday instalment, starting at 7.30 will be very short. Following that he will pass the “live” baton to me and I will do the quiz. It is possible on YouTube to make £ contributions to the person who is live. Martin normally gets any of this money of course – but he has very kindly said that all the moment raised that night will go to my nominated charity. That is so very kind – and I have accepted his very kind offer. I may also put a charitable poll for this on my Facebook page to get a bit more.

…why am I doing this?

Blood Bikes

My chosen charity is Blood Bikes. Those that know me well will appreciate that I am about to do advanced rider training to allow me to join this association, but meanwhile we have lockdown and it has interrupted my training.


What lockdown has also done is stopped the charity from going out and about and raising money to allow them to survive. The plain facts are that despite many thousands of deliveries each month, the NHS pay them nothing at all. They get zero from the government. In just one area (Cornwall) it is estimated they saved the NHS over £150,000 in overnight costs which would otherwise be done by taxi or courier firms.

This email is already too long, yes, I know – but please I beg you read the next few paragraphs, and then spend 20 minutes and 7 seconds watching the video you will find here. It says what I want to say in a much more entertaining way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GckYuRt2Ps0&t=1s – it will be a worthwhile and well spent 20 minutes.

Weirdly, I am not going to chase any of you for money – I will let you decide for yourself if you want to do anything. What I would love though is for you to humour me and pretend not to be bored if I ever mention it again, and also for you to not think bad things every time you see a motorcycle.

If you want to have a giggle and see me embarrass myself live in front of what I hope to be a lot of people – see the live demo schedule here https://www.msabansmith.com/corona-schedule/ - remember 7th May

I apologise in advance– I may remind you of that next week.

And finally…

I applied to the NHS to be a courier when they advertised for volunteers. I got turned down, apparently my application said I was Phil Boulter – while a copy of my passport said I was Philip Boulter – so they said I was not the person on the password as my name was different - failed! So that was a bugger.

I applied to be a home delivery driver instead for Tesco (and Sainsbury and Morrisons etc etc.) That was weeks and weeks ago. Last Thursday Tesco rang me up and said am I still interested. “Yes” said I.

“You will be based at the Tesco-Extra in Newbury” they said. “OK – suits me fine” I said. So, I did and online interview with some nice chap with a very foreign name I cannot spell. At the conclusion he said I would need to go to Swindon and do a driving assessment, I had no problem at all with that. However, he then said…

“The job is not actually for home delivery.”

“Uh – then what is it?” I asked – confused.

“It’s for Click and collect” he said.

Confused – I asked how that works.

“Instead of going to customer’s homes – you simply drive to an agreed place and they come and collect the shopping”

Now – that sounded reasonable to me, so I said, “Where are the collection points?”

“There are two of them” he said.

“Only 2?” I responded. “Where are they then?”

“Well the first one is in Newbury”

Nice and local I thought – not too shabby. I then tried to think where this might be in Newbury, so guess what? I said…

“Where would that be in Newbury?”

He paused. He paused in a way that said to me “I don’t want to tell you”. At this point I remained silent in a way that said, “You have to tell me”. In the end – he told me.

“In the car park at Tesco” he said.

I know – I stopped and had a think as well.

“OK – there are three”, I said, “one on the A4, one in the town centre – plus of course the big Tesco Extra where I load the van.”

I waited.

“So, which one is it?” I prodded.

He finally came back. “Tesco Extra – there is a Click and Collect point in the car park”

“So, you are now telling me I go to Tesco Extra, load up the van, and deliver the items to Tesco Extra?”

“That’s it!” he exclaimed as if I had just solved one of the cryptic clues from the Times.

“…and you want me to go to Swindon tomorrow for a driving assessment so I can get a job that involves being able to drive out of a gate into a car park and then stopping?”

I am not an expert – but I am sure the irony escaped him.

Ok dear reader, long story short – I went to get assessed very early the following morning. I was assessed to within an inch of my life by a real live advanced driving instructor for an hour. I discovered I was the first of 11 people being assessed that day.

My generous offer to become one of their associates was declined by them on Monday. “Oh dear” I said when I heard – “how will I ever live with myself now I don’t have the chance to drive a van 50 yards into a car park.”

I might get over it.

I will be in touch.

Stay safe please – do not catch anything nasty. In fact – do not catch anything at all.

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