THIS WEEK'S FEATURE ARTICLES
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Public speaking for community service
Last week I attended a Candidate Information Session for those intending to stand for council. Key dates for the election and the various stages of the campaign are available now on the Huon Valley Council website. At the information session, six southern municipality sitting councillors, from five different councils, generously gave up their time to give intending candidates an opportunity to hear about the ‘Council experience’. This information session was a timely illustration to intending candidates that communication skills, especially public speaking, are an important aspect of the job of being a community representative in a public forum. I was particularly impressed with the calibre of speakers, whose experience and advice should be invaluable to any intending nominee. The speakers were: Alderman Simon Fraser, Glenorchy City Council; Alderman Frank Pearce, Derwent Valley Council; Alderman Heather Chong, Clarence City Council; Alderman Dr Eva Ruzicka and Alderman Helen Burnet, Hobart City Council and Kingborough Mayor Steve Wass. The speakers were from different backgrounds, representing very different experiences. As public speakers they had several things in common, which they expressed in different ways and to different degrees. Each speaker, in their own way, was inspiring, confident, humorous, motivational, honest, engaging and perhaps even powerful, as each speaker had a proven record of experience and credibility. Each speaker was authentic – they were themselves. They had prepared for the talk and had stuck to the ‘brief’ or topics suggested by the organisers. These topics were: how long have you been a councillor; why did you decide to become a councillor; how much time do you put into the job; how much is involved; how much reading and how many meetings; some insights into the highlights (and some lowlights) of each councillor’s experience; and some advice. What these speakers didn’t do, which is always a relief to an audience – they didn’t umm or ahh; they didn’t waffle; they didn’t complicate the topic (kept it simple); they stuck to the timeframe (kept it short) and structure (the topic) of the talk; and, noticeably, the speakers didn’t use meaningless modifiers and empty words. Some of the meaningless modifiers we often hear from public speakers, and often in the media, are the meaningless adverbs (“really,” “very”). Some of the empty words might be inappropriate language, such as “like”, “you know,” and “I mean”, or words that don’t add anything to the point of the talk. Words such as “awesome”, “brilliant” and “cool”, “and, yeah” can garble a message and slow the speaker down. The phrase “oh my god” would have also been inappropriate and a waste of time if used by any of the speakers in that public meeting. Fortunately, it did not make an appearance from the above competent speakers on that occasion. They also spared us another (irritating) filler word – actually. The word “actually” is generally overused in daily speech, but it’s the choice of the speaker to use it, and it is often used almost as a punctuation mark. If a speaker (at a meeting or in a media situation) uses “actually” more than twice in the same sentence, I start to turn off. When the use of “actually” has reached maybe five, even ten times, I presume that the speaker is filling in, is probably stalling because they don’t know what they are talking about, or he/she is speaking flannel (also known as “talking bs”).
Training for public speaking
It’s a well-worn cliché to say that public speaking is high on the list of anxiety-making fears of almost every person ever surveyed, but it is possible to train to be a good public speaker. The skill of public speaking, once mastered, can be an enjoyable experience. Books are available, and the internet is full of it – advice, that is. Browsing on the web is entertaining. Here are a few titles of sites of interest and education: Top Three Public Speaking
Skills, Four Best Speaking Skills, Four Powerful Public Speaking Tips, Five Basic Public Speaking Tips, 7 Critical Public Speaking Tips, 8 Habits of Great Public Speakers, and so on. You could also join a public speaking club, or pay for public speaking training. Whatever path you take towards training yourself to master public speaking, none of it will come to much unless you are prepared to put in the work and preparation, and put in time to practice. Good luck to those who are intending to stand for council. Public speaking will be only one of the tools you will need to have to get yourself elected.
Up to London
Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been? “I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen.”
So, goes the well-known nursery rhyme. I remember as a child in London being taken to see the Christmas pantomime Dick Whittington and his Cat. Though then I had no knowledge of the real man behind it.
Novelist Ann Swinfen, wrote, “Richard Whittington – A Medieval Merchant and Philanthropist. During every pantomime season, Dick Whittington strides the stage once again in the form of a girl in tights, but there was a great deal more to the real Richard Whittington than a cat and the sound of Bow Bells. Richard Whittington was a famous Mayor of London, a boy born into modest circumstances who rose to become a great public figure, a confidant of kings, and a benefactor whose personal wealth improved the lives of his fellow citizens”.
Richard Whittington was born around 1354 in Gloucestershire, Richard, being a younger son, would not inherit his father’s estate. So, like many a younger son at the time, he was despatched by his family to London to work in the cloth industry.
From the late 14th -15th century, fine English woollen cloth, particularly broadcloth, was becoming highly valued throughout Europe. Broadcloth is so called because it is woven wider than its desired width and then goes through a milling process which beats the cloth until the fibres matt together, creating a dense, felt-like fabric which is warm and quite weatherproof. It is recorded that in a brief period Whittington sold cloth to the king to the value of £3,500, which corresponds to about $AU2.8 million in today’s money. Deals of this kind laid the foundation of his great wealth. He continued to be an active and prosperous
In 1384 Whittington became a member of the Common Council of London, and from then until the end of his life he was one of the most senior and active political figures in London.
Richard Whittington was elected Lord Mayor and in 1416 he was elected a Member of Parliament. During this period Whittington served on many Royal Commissions, and oversaw expenditure to complete Westminster Abbey.
Although Richard Whittington married in 1402, his wife died nine years later, and the couple had no children. Instead, it is said that the people of London, especially the poor, were his children and heirs. He paid for a great many public works during his lifetime including financing the rebuilding of
London was growing rapidly at the time, and this led to problems with the city’s water supply and hygiene. Whittington also improved the sewers and drainage and built public lavatories. He even laid on a water supply to the prisons of Ludgate and Newgate, which must have greatly improved the conditions of the prisoners.
Concerned about the dangerous working conditions of young apprentices, Richard Whittington passed laws to protect them from unhealthy and risky practices which had frequently led to death. He was also interested in the welfare of the poor, providing a set of alms-houses for the elderly and carrying out repairs to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which cared for the poor and needy of London. Across the river in Southwark was another hospital, St Thomas’s. There Whittington established what must have been unique in the world – a lying-in ward for unmarried mothers. Southwark contained the recognised red-light district of Mediaeval and Tudor London. The need for such a hospital ward shows what a generous and warm-hearted man Richard
Even today there is the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington which provides help for those in need, year-round but especially at Christmas tide. He even left £7,000 in his will (about $AU5.5 million in today’s money) for charitable works after his death.
Ann Swinfen has written a series of historical novels The Chronicles of Christoval Alvarez, which I greatly enjoyed. In one book in the series, Suffer the Little Children there are many references to the Whittington ward at St Thomas’s hospital.
So – was there a cat? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It makes a delightful story and pictures of Whittington were often doctored later to include a cat.
A great man. A generous and unusual man. He deserves to be remembered by more than
The little chef - EBONY BRELLO
Blackberry lavender cake
We like to bake in unknown territories here at The Little Chef because there are so many varieties of flavours just waiting to be baked together, and this recipe is no exception. We are introducing the Blackberry Lavender Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Phew, what a mouthful (no pun intended). Does it raise a few eyebrows? Sure, but hear me out. Lavender is such a delicate flavour and the floral hints really compliment the tartness and sweetness of blackberries. It’s sweet, it’s fresh, it’s absolutely beautiful once assembled. This is honestly the best cake to make on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
1 cup canola oil
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
3 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 ½ cups buttermilk
3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
Blackberry Lavender Jam
6 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
½ cup honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp dried culinary lavender (Found in local health food shops and online stores)
White Chocolate Buttercream
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups icing sugar
1 cup (225g) white chocolate, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper and grease with butter. Flour pans and
In a large bowl beat together oil, yoghurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla and buttermilk using a stand mixer. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the centre isn’t wiggly. (We liked the dance moves, but we want a clean and nicely baked centre.) Remove cakes from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before running a serrated knife around the edges of the pans. Turn cakes out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before assembling.
To make the jam, throw the blackberries, honey, lemon juice and lavender into a large saucepan and cook on high heat. Bring to a boil and mash the berries using a potato masher. Cook for a further 5-8 minutes until the jam has reduced by a third and has thickened. Remove jam from heat and let cool. The jam will continue to thicken as it cools.
For the buttercream, beat together butter and sugar using a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the melted white chocolate to the mixture and mix until combined.
To assemble cake, carefully cut each cake into horizontal halves so that you have four layers. Place one layer onto a serving plate and spread ¼ of the buttercream over the first cake layer, then add about ¼ of the jam atop. Repeat until all layers
*Note: Make sure not to overfill your layers or it will be harder to slice and your cake may lean like the Tower of Pisa.
Lightly frost the outside of the cake and have fun getting creative with your decorating! Fresh blackberries, fresh lavender and small flowers like jasmine give it a finished and stunning look.
Chill the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. The cake can be stored in the fridge for up to one day. So go for that extra slice, I dare you.
Baking hack: ‘Why a cake fails’ guide
Has a hump
Oven was too hot prior to baking or too much flour was used
Has deep cracks
Temperature was too high or too much baking powder/flour was used
Cake was removed too early, temperature too low, too much baking powder/sugar was used or not enough flour was added to the cake mix
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