Dananjaya Hettiarachchi WCPS is coming

Sometimes opportunity taps you on the shoulder, and makes you an offer you cannot refuse. It happened to me in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Saturday 23rd August 2014. That was the day I joined with more than 2000 of my Toastmaster colleagues from around the world, to listen to the nine finalists in the World Championship of Public Speaking. The speeches were the best of the best as judged by contemporaries over a series of Club, Area, Division, District and Region Finals, held annually. 30,000 hopefuls from over 120 countries start the journey, and one of these is crowned World Champion.

In 2014-15, that honour was bestowed on Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, from Sri Lanka, Dananjaya is a remarkable speaker and his “I See Something…” speech, engaged and touched the audience so much, that their applause and standing ovation, almost lifted the roof off the Convention Centre. It was a magical moment, and I was lucky enough to be in the audience. Lucky I was too, later when walking through the lobby, to meet and have a picture taken with Dan. In a brief conversation Dan mentioned that he’d never been to Australia, and would someday like to visit for a holiday.

That brief conversation, lead to me chatting with a mutual friend from Sri Lanka -Ruwan- who passed on a message to Dananjaya that I would try to find a way to bring him Down-under to speak at an event here. Well, as they say “the rest is history”, for on the evening of 2nd June 2015, Dananjaya will touch down at Tullamarine Airport, and start a nine day trip which will fulfill his wish to come to Australia, and fulfill our desire to meet, see and hear again the World Champion.

As I mentioned when opening this blog, sometimes opportunity taps us on the shoulder and makes an offer we cannot refuse. Well, opportunity knocked on 23rd August and I found the offer irresistible. If you are at the International arrivals gate at the airport on 2nd June 2015, look for a man wearing the biggest smile of all, as he welcomes a Toastmaster, a friend and the World Champion of Public Speaking to Australia.

The SPA Philosophy – Two

The SPA Philosophy (Socrates,Plato and Aristotle). Part 2

The Greeks on Virtue

According to Aristotle-He was Plato’s pupil- as to other Greek thinkers, being a good person and knowing right from wrong, is not primarily a matter of understanding and applying certain morals and Principles. Rather, it is a question of being or becoming the kind of person who, by acquiring wisdom through proper practice and training, will habitually behave in appropriate ways in the appropriate circumstances. In short, having the right kind of character and dispositions, natural and acquired, issues in the right kind of behaviour.

The dispositions in question are virtues.

From ’50 Philosophy ideas – you really need to know’ by Ben Dupre

My Greek & Roman SPA (Socrates, Plato & Aristotle)

In the workshops I run, on Memory Magic I like to use Mnemonics to help participants to hook ideas.

Mnemosyne was the Greek Goddess of Memory, and one of the ways I teach is to use Memory palaces, first used by Simonides. As a speaker and workshop presenter, memory is very important to me.

I also like philosophy, particularly my SPA Philosophy  and study it frequently. Here is a short passage you might ponder.


Nearly everyone at some time faces the question. What constitutes the good life? Some answer that the good in life is pleasure, others that it is observance of duties and obligations, still others that it is obedience to divine commands. Against all these Socrates had contended that what makes our life good is just being a good person–a virtuous person. Plato agreed though he struggles to find a convincing justification for the idea.

Excerpt from ‘Coffee With Plato’ by Donald R. Moor

Saturday turns into Sunday

Up early at 6.30 am for a A Big Saturday and early Sunday morning. I attended Toastmasters District 73 Leadership meeting, then District Exec. Meeting, and was good to catch up with all the team. Such Enthusiasm is heartwarming stuff.

Later a couple of light ales at the Limerick Arms, with fun, fast food and frivolity, before farewelling friends from Vic and South Australia. A smooth drive home, picking up Fish and Chips on the way, and lovely to get home at 8.00 pm, and be in the warm comfort of my two lovely ladies, Nancy and Nessa.

Oscar was out with friends, so a little TV, computer work and a cat nap. A premonition told me not to go to bed too early, and just as well for at 12.40 am Sunday, the phone rang and it was my #1 Son, asking to be picked up in Mornington.

Now I’m home again and it’s 1.41 am. So endeth another fabulous 19 hour chapter in the kingdom of David. A marvellous time in a wonderful life.

Three weeks of interesting times

I never felt a thing while the surgeon removed the cataract from my right eye, and next morning without pain I turned up for the Bass Division Speech Contests feeling pretty well, and confident that I could give them my best shot.

I couldn’t drive, and had made arrangements for my Area Governor, Michael to pick me up.

Arriving at Berwick it was terrific to catch up with friends and the day went really well. I managed third place in the Division Table Topics contest which pleased me, and though I didn’t place in the International Speech Contest, I was pleased I entered and received enough positive feedback to want to do it all again in 2015-16.

That was on 28th February and it’s been all downhill since, apart from attending a goood friends 60th Birthday.

On 4th March I drove into Melbourne for my consultancy work which went very well, and next day attended an appointment at the Ophthalmology unit of the Alfred hospital to check that my eye was healing well. Michelle, my surgeon was very pleased with my progress, and booked me up to have my left eye done asap, for she said that it was pretty poor and needed attention quickly. My eyesight will be wonderful when that’s done.

Leaving the hospital around 10 am, I was feeling pretty chipper, and with Nancy and Oscar by my side, we walked a short distance to a local cafe to get coffee and a bite to eat, and that my friends was when I tripped on a sandbag, crashed into tables and chairs and clumsily fell to the ground injuring my left upper chest. Winded and feeling less than fit, I sat gasping for breath and trying to stay calm.

The next few days I spent a lot of in bed resting up. and  remained there for most of the time since, until yesterday, when suffering with shortness of breath, I visited my doctor.

The diagnosis is that I’ve suffered a pleurisy attack, had a temperature,  and possibly had internal bleeding and damaged a couple of ribs. Now I’m confined to the house and will be for the next few days, swallowing pills that would knock-out a horse; taking 20 mls of cough expectorant 4 times per day, and can expect the damage to heal over the next couple of weeks.

I’ll be out of action, and will mot be on line much till then. The good thing is, I can read all about friends near and far on social media, and will look forward to being on my feet asap.


A Wonderful Week

There is nothing as nice as waking to the sunshine, hugging my lovely wife, sipping on a cup of coffee and sitting on the balcony with Nessa our faithful canine sitting at my feet. Here as greet the day with a backdrop of birds tweeting, and neighbours waving hi, I know I’m going to have another wonderful week.

It seems like ages since I wrote on my blog and yet it is only a few days. Much has happened and with my carpentry work adding beauty to the entrance to our home; shopping days and lovely lunches with Nancy; visits to friends in the City and around the world via social media, and attendance at Toastmasters, as well as fun family times, I’ve been as busy as ever.

I’ve had good news too, that the surgery on my eyes which I’ve been waiting for is now scheduled for 27th February, and I’ll be able to see much more clearly after that. The only drawback is that I may have to wear a patch over my right eye for the Contests I’m in on 28th Feb. Though that would probably entail re-writing my speech and borrowing a parrot and a wooden leg to appear as a favourite hero from Treasure Island. Perhaps not!

February has started with a bang and the next three weeks promise lots of excitement as I attend, Voice Training tomorrow, TLI/CoT on Saturday, and compete against the best in Division in the Table Topics Speech & International Speech Contests on Saturday Week.

I really do lead an idyllic and fortunate life.

Sitting, Dreaming and Marvelling At It All.

Each morning when I wake, I cheerily greet my family, grab a cup of coffee and my tablet then go out on to the balcony and sit with our beautiful and loyal dog at my feet, as I look up to the clouds then down to my tablet and catch up with friends here and around the world.

Today (Thursday)  it was news from my dear school friend, Ange in Chester, reminding me of where we once played, studied and socialised with each other at St. Bede’s, and after leaving school, worked and socialised in that marvellous City.. Our whole class of ’55 were a terrific group who have kept in touch all these years. Reading their news and one sad note of our friend Stephan who had sadly passed, carried me back to a time in  when we were all so optimistic about the future.

Now 59 years later, with the often horrendous news stories that fill our media, I wonder about the madness of some who would destroy the peace our fathers fought so hard for.

I can think about the past though I can’t dwell there and I can think about the future and make plans; the best and happiest times though are when I’m aware, fully in the moment, and savouring this moment marvelling at the life I lead, the man I am, the family and friends I have, and the wonder of it all.

It’s at times like these that I am reminded of Albert Einsteins Quote:

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough

Marvellous Melbourne

There are so many delightful things to do in Melbourne and on a sunny day there is nothing better than to meet a good friend and enjoy lunch at Federation Square and then take a tram ride to Albert Park.

Such was the way I spent a delightful few hours on a sparkling Friday, with young Jerry my Chinese Toastmaster friend.

We shared a splendid meal of curried chicken and rice with Naan Bread  and a large plate of Nachos served beautifully with guacamole, yoghurt and Jalapenos, and digested it more easily with a couple of glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon, a cocktail and a couple of litres of cool water to rehydrate us in the heat of the midday sun, as we chatted excitedly amidst the cacophonous sound of hundred’s, perhaps thousands of local, national and international visitors who gathered at this favourite venue taking in the wondrous scenes, sights and sounds of this vibrant city.

Later a tram ride to Bridport Road in Albert Park  renowned for it’s cafe culture and some of the finest coffee available in our Capital City.

Another Splendid day in a splendid life.



A Barbecue by the Bay

Wednesday 21st was a fabulous day, and the highlight was definitely the evening, when we held the Frankston Toastmasters Club “Barbecue By The Bay’ Themed first meeting for 2015. Breaking with tradition we invited family and friends to this our first ever open-air meeting, which was a resounding success enjoyed by all.

We were at the Frankston Foreshore, The weather was warm, the camaraderie was contagious, our members and guests enjoyed fabulous food, a little vino and lots of engaging conversation.

It was a Toastmasters meeting like no other; part regular meeting and part demo meeting, where we held our first ever Table Topicsathon. Excellent questions from our Topics Master Joanne, who passed a hat containing questions around and each respondent picked the question out of the hat and responded accordingly. Michael our IPP and AG, gave a very good general evaluation, and the prize for best Table Topic, went to a visitor from Singapore, who has recently moved to our town.

We truly had the International flavour with members and guests from Wales, Scotland, Colombia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

There are many delights to be had in Toastmasters, and this event will surely rate in the top 10.

Turn The Radio On

What a brilliant and productive day I enjoyed today.

My Toastmasters Club VPPR-Simon-organised for me to appear at our local Radio Station FM 98.7 RPP to speak about Toastmasters International and the Inaugural Table Topicathon we are having at Frankston Foreshore for members, members families and guests on Wednesday Evening 21st January.

I was out of bed at 5.30 am, for an hour of preparation and contemplation which is my usual morning routine,  before driving to Mornington and the Radio Studio. It was a lot of fun and Debra and Mitchell, my hosts were bright, bubbly and fun to be with.

At home by 9.00 am and breakfast with my lovely, before donning my work clothes to spend an idyllic 4 hours in our garden, accompanied by Nessa our dog, who loves to play ball at every opportunity.

Later I spent some time online with global friends as we discussed, debated and debunked some myths about rules and conventions surrounding the do’s and don’ts of Toastmaster practices, processes and procedures.

A pleasant surprise of my day was to receive my first fee from a monthly consultancy service I’m providing to a large organisation here in Melbourne for the next 12 months. When you can be paid for doing what you love, life is very good.

Another day, another joy, and another myriad of magical moments.