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U3A Writing: Band Of Hope

...He brought along to the meetings a magic lantern, which was an early form of projector using glass slides. We were shown pictures depicting stories of children neglected by parents who had succumbed to the demon drink. I believe that at some meetings a glass of whisky or alcohol was set alight to demonstrate how our bodies could be burned, though I never witnessed this personally....

Joan Sutcliffe recalls the temperance organisation, the Band of Hope.

One of my memories of the 1930s is of the Band of Hope. This title is probably meaningless to many of you, but, for the uninitiated, it was an organisation connected with the Temperance movement. In this context, temperance was interpreted as total abstinence from intoxicating liquor, rather than moderation.

Our local Band of Hope met at the Methodist church which I attended, and was led by a man known to all the children as Uncle Alec. He was more formally Mr. Alex Browne, secretary of Bolton Temperance Union and a staunch teetotaller. His mission in life was to ensure that we were made aware of the evils of drink.

He brought along to the meetings a magic lantern, which was an early form of projector using glass slides. We were shown pictures depicting stories of children neglected by parents who had succumbed to the demon drink. I believe that at some meetings a glass of whisky or alcohol was set alight to demonstrate how our bodies could be burned, though I never witnessed this personally.

At the end of the meetings we were encouraged to sign a pledge promising that we would abstain from all intoxicating liquors. Now, I always managed to avoid signing this declaration for I had a guilty secret. I had been allowed to taste a drop of shandy, which I had quite enjoyed, and besides, my parents didn't go to the pub and come home drunk and beat us.

You may wonder why we attended these meetings. There was very little commercial entertainment in those days and it was somewhere to meet your friends, and a bit of a giggle if the lantern didn't work or the slides were projected upside down. But the big inducement was a free trip to Southport, our nearest seaside resort. That was a great treat for us.

Although I believe that drink is a great social evil when taken to excess, I can't say that I approve of the way we were indoctrinated by Mr. Browne.

I do number a few teetotallers amongst my friends but most of them who signed the pledge in those early days are quite happy to join me in a drink. As I raise my glass I give a toast, "Success to Temperance, down with the drink."

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