The ladies of Aston-by-Stone W.I. were entertained by a member of the Pickwick Bicycle Club. What’s that?
Well, we’d never heard of it either, but by the end of Mr. Stiggins’ talk (given by his real-life alter ego, Trevor Bevan), not only did we know, but we were impressed. The Club, the oldest continuously-running sporting club in Britain and the oldest Dickens-associated society, was formed shortly after the great novelist’s death, so named in his honour. It began as a cycling club, but now exists partly for the encouragement of cycling and the historical study of all things associated, but does fine work for charity. Members meet twice a year for a splendid lunch; they invite Chelsea Pensioners, who are so keen to attend that there has to be a ballot for places – well, they wouldn’t want a fight over it, would they, as their soldiering days are supposed to be over when they enter the Royal Hospital!
Mr. Bevan, attired in his Pickwick Bicycle Club boater, tie and badge, told us also about the life of Charles Dickens and his major works. Dickens produced an amazing number of long novels as well as much journalism, and found time, too, to give readings from his works. Although the books are rattling good stories, they were a form of social campaigning, as Dickens wrote of debtors’ prisons and of the difficulties people could encounter with the law. Both these topics occur in the Pickwick Papers and in later books. And oh dear! We’re still having battles with these same topics today!
After tea and cakes, we heard about the Spring Council meeting. There were the usual raffle and competition, the latter being for a carved vegetable. A water-lily, bowling ball and skittles and mouse, complete with cheese, were the imaginative entries.
Would you like to visit, or to join us? We meet at Aston-by-Stone village hall on the second Wednesday of the month. Contact us at www.astonbystonewi.btck.co.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org or 01785 615662.