How our group is exploring true crime... by Zoom
- Credit: North Norfolk U3A
David Riddle, from the North Norfolk U3A (University of the Third Age) explains how the group is cracking true crime cases - with the power of virtual video calls.
I could be talking about the ever-increasing ingenuity of scammers and fraudsters to use emails and websites to part us from our money, but no, this month I want to tell you about one of the very active interest groups in North Norfolk U3A.
The True Crime Group is led jointly by Sue Parry and Susan Riddle, who live in Fakenham.
Sue Parry is a former deputy head teacher at a large secondary school in Hertfordshire, and a maths teacher. She told me: “My interest in crime dates from 1988 when I watched a TV series about Jack the Ripper, made on the centenary of his murders.
"I joined the Whitechapel Society, where I have since been secretary, membership officer and, currently treasurer and commissioning editor.
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“The Whitechapel Society is a historical society, originally set up to study the murders of Jack the Ripper and to shine a light on the conditions under which the victims lived.
"New insights on the Jack the Ripper and the plight of vulnerable poor people in East London in the late 19th century are emerging all the time from research.
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“What fascinates me most are those crimes – usually serial murders – that are simply beyond normal comprehension. I also have keen interest in the way that poverty was – and still is - the cause of crime and turned victims into criminals”.
Susan Riddle was a magistrate in London for 30 years, becoming chairman of the bench covering the north London boroughs of Barnet, Brent and Harrow before she moved to Norfolk in 2016.
As a magistrate she dealt with the whole range of crimes from remand hearings for murder trials to traffic offences.
She explained: “Every crime brought to justice starts in a magistrates court and over 95pc end there – only the most serious crimes go on to be heard by a judge and jury in the crown courts.
"Lay magistrates have great responsibilities to weigh the evidence, decide on guilt, and pass sentence on those convicted. We could not send anyone to prison for longer than 12 months, and you can imagine that depriving someone of their liberty for so long is an awesome power.
"One case I recall graphically was on a New Year’s Day dealing with a bail application by the “Camden Body Parts Murderer” who had distributed his victim’s body parts around communal rubbish bins on his housing estate.
"He was the only murderer I recall who looked like the embodiment of evil. Needless to say he didn’t get bail.
“The True Crime Group started three years ago. Over that time in its monthly meetings, with about 50 members, we have had talks about a wide of variety of crimes, mainly given by group members from research and or personal experience, and a number of external speakers.
"The topics have included the Disappearance of Malaysian Airline flight MH370, the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, the work of local voluntary organisations in supporting the victims and witnesses of crimes, the Siege of Sydney Street and the Burnham Market Poisoners, and most recently Police Corruption."
From a Location, Location, Location not far away
North Norfolk U3A elected a new Chairman at its AGM in June, Peggy Williams.
Peggy has been a member of U3A for 10 years and steps up after two years as vice chairman, and before that as Secretary of the organisation.
Peggy lives in Sheringham, in a house that she and husband Jon bought after viewing it on the TV programme “Location, Location, Location” with Phil Spencer.
Peggy will be recounting her experiences on the show in a talk for U3A members on 21 July. Peggy said “I know how much our members are beginning to look forward to resuming live meetings and enjoying everything that U3A offers to the full".
Vaccinated and rarin’ to go!
Our monthly talks will restart at Blakeney Village Hall in September and we absolutely welcome new members who want to 'Learn, Laugh, Live with us' - See our website at www.northnorfolku3a.org.uk.
Are you a victim of fashion ageism?
The national U3A organisation recently carried out a survey of 5,000 retired people that revealed 'fashion ageism'. Two thirds of those surveyed feel that society has expectations about what older people should and shouldn’t wear.
A supporting survey of the wider public found that over half believe that older people should 'dress their age'.
The public were asked at what age people should stop wearing certain clothes, with miniskirts (44 years old), skinny jeans (49) and baseball caps (56) among the garments deemed ‘too young’.
Fashions most often considered suitable for older people by the nation were: socks and sandals (53pc), cardigans (58pc) and elastic waisted trousers (54pc).
Incredibly, a quarter (25pc) would tell an older family member if they felt they were dressing ‘too young’ and one in 10 (12pc) would even hide items of clothing they deemed unsuitable. Despite this, just 24pc of the public plan to ‘dress their age’ when they are themselves older.
The five best dressed Brits over 60 – according to over 65s are Joanna Lumley, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Colin Firth and Prue Leith. The top 5 according to 18- 24 year olds are Vivienne Westood, Mary Berry, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and Colin Firth.
I’m not giving up wearing my baseball cap! How about you?