Chandra and Richard contrast life in ‘the oven and the freezer’!

Todmorden U3A chairperson Jean Pearson with speakers Chandra and Richard Law
Todmorden U3A chairperson Jean Pearson with speakers Chandra and Richard Law

The membership of U3A Todmorden continues to grow to amazing levels.

On the day of September’s meeting the earlier coffee morning attracted over 100 current members – and potential new recruits – to find out what all the special interest groups do, and share a friendly tale or two.

As soon as a new idea like Social History becomes reality, it’s full of members.

Of course it’s partly the quality of the regular monthly speakers that keeps drawing people. Those attending September’s meeting at Central Methodist Church, Todmorden, heard Chandra Law, helped by her husband Richard, talk about “Coming to Britain”.

Chandra is from Malaysia and met Englishman Richard while they were working together in her native country. The detailed record she kept for her family when she first came to England with him provided a witty insight into how our country looks to a new visitor.

According to Chandra: “Richard says Malaysia is like living in an oven; I say England is like living in a freezer.”

On arriving in Britain and leaving the airport, Chandra told us, the cold literally hurt. Why did rows and rows of trees have no leaves on them, was the whole place dying?, she wondered.

Among these reminiscences Chandra wove a well-designed account of how to create Malaysian batik (which Richard created beside her while she spoke).

Batik-making is compulsory in Malaysian schools from the age of 14, when pupils are thought old enough to handle hot wax, which is what the word “batik” means.

An attentive audience of Todmordians transformed ourselves into Malaysian schoolgirls and schoolboys as we were taught the process.

Boys, it seems, get to work on bamboo, metal and wood. But girls are the batik specialists.

Traditionally they create using themed colours.

Bold reds and pinks apparently mean mountains; blue, fishing villages; green, paddy fields, black/brown/gold mean rubber plantations; purple means turtle islands; and silver stands for Kuala Lumpur.

Get over the border to Ramsbottom Station to see Chandra’s and Richard’s work, from lipstick cases to sarongs (steady, men, it seems we can wear them too).

It was hard to hear new Chairman Jean Pearson’s effusive thanks afterwards amid the throng of people eager to see batik at first hand.

U3A hopes for just as enthusiastic a crowd for next month’s meeting, on Thursday, October 17, talking about “Psychology and You”.

Full details of meetings and groups are on http://u3atod.org.uk/.