The Dangers of Wasp Badminton

Having completed my Competent Communicator manual in Toastmasters it was time to move on to the Advanced Speaker Manuals. With over 20 manuals to choose from, the range of topics was varied. While I have never considered myself a funny person I decided to challenge myself and selected the “Entertaining Speaker” manual. The objectives in the first speech “The Entertaining Speech” are to: Entertain the audience by relating a personal experience and Organise an entertaining speech for maximum impact”. On 20 March 2014 this is the speech I gave: –

Toastmaster, fellow Toastmaster and welcome guests, I stand before you today a survivor, a survivor of Wasp Badminton. I am here to warn you of the dangers; dare I even say life-threatening results of this deadly sport. I should tell you at this stage that I have mortal fear of wasps. The very sight of one is enough to start me itching. It is as though I can feel each individual step as the wasp progresses across my skin. This may stem from the fact that as a child I feel a crawling sensation just above my knee inside my jeans and my investigative touch was rewarded with a sharp burning sensation…the not so friendly return touch of a wasp sting! More stings were to follow in my teens which has led to my loathing and detestation of these abominable creatures. Let me progress with my cautionary tale.

It started as a normal Saturday evening. I had journeyed to Bandon to spend some time with my parents. As I chatted with my father I noticed a fluttering out of the corner of my eye. Looking up I saw my deadly enemy, a wasp, flitting around one of the lampshades. As is the custom in our household, a newspaper was quickly grabbed, rolled up and the hunt began.

As the lampshades were glass, delicate and irreplaceable, the beginning taps were equally delicate. One shade had a small hole from some previous incident which was to provide some solace a few minutes later! Blame it on frustration at the wily wasp or a growing tiredness from ladylike tapping but enough was enough! I lashed out with what I thought was a definitely kill shot. It was a indeed a killing blow but alas it was the lampshade and not the wasp that suffered. With one fell swoop I blew the shade to smithereens with bits of decorative glass flying in every direction!

Naturally the wasp hunt halted until all the glass was picked up. Bit by bit was gathered from window to door to fireplace and carefully placed in a box and then it was back to the wasp hunt. After all faint heart never won fair lady!

Armed once again with my trusty newspaper and convinced at this stage that the wasp was plotting revenge of a most painful sort my eyes darted from ground to couch to ceiling. And there it was!! That pesky wasp had moved to the other lampshade, happily crawling around as if it hadn’t a care in the world. My dander was well up at this stage and after another few ineffective swats I stood on the couch and prepared for the fight to the death!

Swat by me and wasp to the right

Swat by my father and wasp to the left

Back and forth

Each swing growing more determined

My father swung and with a fast lean to the left I thought I had the winning shot

And then… catastrophe struck.

That lunge upset my balance, and underestimating the bounce of the couch, I was launched, flying over a metal oil heater, (you know the ones like mini-radiators) and head first into the concrete wall two feet away. Well that took the wind out of my sails. I staggered to my feet slightly dazed. You can imagine if this was a cartoon there would have been little tweeting birds circling my head.

Gathering my bruised body, and perhaps slightly concussed,  I decided enough was enough. This wasp was going down! A few more whacks and still he was surviving. I think my father feared for the furniture at this stage and he headed for the kitchen to enquire did we have bug spray. On hindsight perhaps we should have done this at the start! One quick spray and down came the wasp to be instantly crushed beneath my boot.

The victory was ours. Beares 1 : Wasp 0

In conclusion I would like to share some lessons I have learned from Wasp Badminton: –

  1. Glass lampshades and newspapers are not a good combination
  2. Beares have a limited flight time
  3. Couches are bouncier than they look

And finally

  1. Look for bug spray when you see a wasp

These few tips could prevent nausea, dizziness, headache and most importantly destruction of parent’s furniture.

Thank you.

 I hope you have enjoyed this story and please feel free to leave a comment.

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare


Mary Ann Hilliard – Suffragette, Nurse, Ancestor

Mary Ann Hilliard was a daughter of Dominick Hilliard and his first wife, Margaret Duke. She was a half-sister to my great-grandfather, William Dominick. Mary was born in Cork in 1860 and died on 21 October 1950 in Wembley.  She went to England to train as a nurse when she was sixteen. She was a military nurse throughout the 1914-18 war and spent part of her wartime service abroad. One of her main duties was looking after Italian prisoners.

When the suffragette movement was at its height, Mary Ann, known to the family as Minnie, took part in suffragette demonstrations in London in 1912 and was sentenced to two months hard labour in Holloway Prison for her activities. While in prison, the suffragettes embroidered a handkerchief with all their names and the slogan “Votes for Women”, a souvenir of her experiences she treasured for many years before sending it to the movement’s headquarters for safekeeping. This document outlines the story of The Suffragette Handkerchief

An article from the The Suffragrette HandkerchiefBritish Journal of Nursing from March 1942 mentions that Mary Ann donated the handkerchief to the British College of Nurses.

A few months ago we announced that the late Sister Catherine Pine had bequeathed to the British College of Nurses the priceless historic Medal and Bars bestowed upon her by the late Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, for her devoted services to her when released from durance vile. As time goes on this gift we may hope will be valued at its true worth by women all over the world, And now, no doubt inspired by Sister Pine’s example, Miss Mary Hilliard, a gentle, very valiant suffragette, has bestowed as a gift to the College the fine linen handkerchief, signed by and embroidered by all the gallant women who suffered imprisonment for conscience sake, in support of the enfranchisement of women in Holloway prison in March, 1912, It displays 67 signatures embroidered in various colours, and all that remains is to offer a warm vote of thanks to Miss Mary Hilliard, R.B.N.A., and to await the time when this historic gift can he suitably framed and placed in the History Section of the British College of Nurses, where its unique value will be appreciated.

After retiring from nursing in the early 1920’s, Mary fell victim to arthritis which in time restricted her physical activities. She had lived in Wembley only a few years, coming to the borough from Hackney after the air raids. After she died a service was conducted by the Rev. R. Kirby, Minister of Park Lane Methodist Church, which preceded the cremation at Golder’s Green.