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False Arithmetic

The annual publication of the list of club members is usually taken by your editor as an occasion for some form of comment, and this year is no exception.

A few years back, we had occasion to double the sub.  We needed to increase it to catch up with rising costs, and the argument which prevailed at the time was that it was better to get the increase over with for some time to come all at once, rather than do it in dribs and drabs.

This dramatic increase had the effect of causing a number of older members to leave the club.  I heard it  said quite recently that in the long term this turned out to have done no harm, since the total membership was now back to what it had been.

What the man who said this had forgotten was that each semi-permanent older member is worth about two and a half new members in terms of guaranteed future subs.  The reason is that 10 older members will still most likely all be there in, say, five year’s time - whereas 10 new members will have reduced to 3 or so in the same period.  It thus needs about 25 new members to yield the same total sub over about ten years that you would expect to get from 10 older and more permanent members.

Even this is not the whole story.  If 10 older members leave suddenly, the total goes down by 10 but within about three years it will have climbed back to where it had been without any increase in new members.  This is, in fact, exactly what has occurred.  An estimate of the losses in subs due to older members leaving when the sub was doubled gives a total to date of about 50 annual subs - and shows clearly that dramatic increases are not the right; way to cope with rising costs. The present committee realises this, and the increase in the annual sub announced for next year is only that which is strictly necessary to cope with genuine increases - like insurance.


People who prophesied that we would never get a team to run the B.B. are - so far - being proved wrong. Six pages of this B.B. have been produced by hands other than my own (our Hon. Sec., doubling as Deputy Editor) while already the essential supplies of stationery are beginning to flow, thanks to our Hon. Treasurer doubling as B.B. Stationery Supplies.  In addition, rumour has it that Andy Sparrow is collecting a vast pile of manuscript while our new printer:- Alan Kennett, shortly to be known as Caxton - is well on the way to printing future B.B.’s.  Even more encouraging is the fact that all this activity has spurred on a number of club members to start making contributions to the B.B.  Some of the results will be found in this edition.  If all continues to go well, we will climb rapidly out of the nasty mess we have lately been in up to our necks.


One of the first things which the new team (with the help of the audience at the last committee meeting) have decided is to change the format of the B.B. from its present A5 size to A4 starting in January.  I am pleased to be able to announce this, as I have a very slight preference for the present size.  In case you think I have got something wrong, I must explain that what pleases me is not so much the actual change as the fact that it emphasises that the B.B. is being run by a team not by me plus a lot of assistants.  Barrie is going to produce the new cover.  One way and another, it looks as if we might be off to a good start in 1977.