58. Lifelong – Learning what?

Around the time the space craft Columbia crashed on re-entry I received an invite to a seminar organized by a civic organization in our local district. The RSVP time and date 5pm on 4/2/03 had my numbers-radar scan on full alert. The name of the person to phone, Deborah, was the same as that of a biblical prophetess. The seminar, which was labelled a “Learning Event” dealing with Lifelong Learning, was listed for Monday 10/2/03 starting at 1.45pm  and finish at 5 pm.

I had all intentions to book my attendance by Tuesday’s deadline, but only remembered on Friday morning to register. The gentleman answering the phone said that Deborah had been off ill for 3 days, but I could give him the details; it was not too late to register.

On that Monday an item on the midday news grabbed my attention: “A former Government Minister resigns after 20 years in parliament.” Diana Laidlaw announced her resignation for later in the year, but not giving a date. She hinted at first having another try to “reform” the prostitution legislation. One and a half hours later I tried to find a car park near the seminar venue. Everywhere a 3-hour limit applied in the vicinity. Somebody was short-sighted.

The hall was already filled with activity, many finishing their lunch, which was provided for this free seminar. I did not read the invitation carefully about a free lunch. I would have arrived earlier. The hall, about the size of a tennis court, well lit and air-conditioned was used regularly for Exhibitions. There were pictures hanging around the room; at the time the theme for the exhibits was “boys”. During the seminar one painting caught my eye: a child outside a house resembling very closely our place at 24 Goodall Road.

Listening to the talking for a while I could not make any sense of what the convener, the speaker or the aim of the initiative was all about. There were two workers from a Catholic church, a lady representing a parent’s group from a local school, a school headmaster from a private School, just to mention some of those on our table.

My main reason for attending was previous correspondence with the organisation. The name of the officer really stood out in my little game play – it had all the letters about seeing the n & d in it.  Her assistant was Nichola; again a strong name for my linking mind. Many of the names are mentioned in the feedback email I sent on Tuesday 11/2/03.

I have tried to keep the names as authentic as possible, at the same time guard the privacy of the people involved. A participant on our table was Mrs. Seward (see word), another was Mr. Cave (see a V). He had two different name tags, the difference being a missing h in his Christian name. This meant something to me, which I can’t disclose. Sufficient to say, it linked with the name of a politician who defected from the Labour Party to the Greens only weeks earlier. I also read Mr. Monopoly on a name tab of a man sitting on our table.  

My mind must have been in ‘creative mode’ that morning. I was having real fun sending the following, slightly altered transcript:    


Dear Janet,

Let me congratulate you on the splendid seminar you and Nichola conducted yesterday. I trust you don’t mind a little feedback, pointing out some things as I candy see them.


Starting at 1.45 pm made me break the law, which I love doing. I parked in the 3 hours limit for a little over the 3hr. 15 min. seminar. I parked right by the cemetery. One day we all will park there permanently.


When I think of "Lifelong" the first thing my back-to-front brain thinks of milk. Lifelong Learning reminds me of old Mrs. L. (not her real name) who I taught to drive. Once I lost my cool and explained in a raised voice: "Mrs. L. I taught you this in your first lesson!" She calmly said that she had forgotten and reminded me how long ago her first lesson was.


I must admit some of the talk yesterday went above my head. I never went to Unersity, that’s why I’m not that intellent or acdemic. Oh, I forgot an a, sorry.


Visiting Professor L. spoke very well. It takes exceptional skill to go on for so long about nothing. The beer and prezels turned me on, ashame it was just on a screen. Fancy a guru like this living in a small village (was it Nns?) under a mountain called Canigou? If my memory is correct I think the mountain has a cave. I wonder if there are any daring freaks who tried to climb it in win ter?


The surroundings of the seminar were very pleasant. I loved the light atmosphere amongst the boys. Interesting how the lights go out when no one moves. Saves the last one to leave to turn them off; they ought to do that on North Terrace.


Talk about turning, I did a U-Turn right outside the venue, can I go and u-turn there? I should know, but I had trouble to see the word on the sign.


I am confident this whole Pallace project will be a world-wide success, as it has already proven to be. Mind you it has been around for a very long time and our aces, you and Nichola, have the passiton and vision to see it through. The beauty is no one on earth has a monopoly, it’s free, it’s magic and I am glad the Saliesbury Group is taking part. I trust much god will come out of it all.

Thanks again for a fun-filled afternoon.


Kind regards

Dieter Rolf Fischer


PS. If visiting Professor L. is Vice President, who is resident President? Ashame he had to rush off to Moreson Lakes. I never got to ask any questions, perhaps that's why this turned out such a long-life email.



(North Terrace is the address of our Parliament). Leaving the iv out of University was a little gem of a fluke (I victorious!). The a left out of academic lent itself to the little a/o game. The name of the conductor of the choir I sing with was identical to the village the professor supposedly resides in France. Both sound very much like Nns. The slide he showed of this place had snow in the background; therefore the hint to winter. The gap in the word win ter, just came as I typed. I liked it better than Die ter.

Three weeks later I thought of another clever little twist in the word intelligent and emailed the facilitators of the seminar:


Dear Nichola,

To correct my spelling in my email from 11/2/03 I must let you know that I spelled intellent wrongly by mistake. I should have spelled it intelgent. It would make more sense that way.


I trust the big projects for Salisbury are all on track (not on Park Terrace) and wish you all the best in your ndever.


Kind regards

Dieter Rolf Fischer


The Vice President of the World Lifelong Learning Initiative was the main speaker. His profile was printed on the invitation as follows (here copied word for word):

Visiting Professor N.L. of Lifelong Learning, Napier University, Toulouse Management College and Sheffield Hallam University is in his tenth career as an author and private consultant. He has worked as head of department in schools and universities, as marketer, researcher and education developer in industry, and as a leader of European and global professional associations. His main activity and expertise is now in Lifelong Learning, particularly in the domain of Learning Cities, Towns and Regions. He has recently completed management of the European wide TELS (Toward Europe as a Learning Society) project, developing an audit tool to help 80 European Cities measure their progress towards becoming ‘Leaning Cities’. He is the author of the document that gave rise to the European Commission’s policy on the local and regional dimension of Lifelong Learning. Presently he is managing the European Commission’s ‘Pallace’ project, linking learning cities and regions in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, China and Europe, and also its ‘Lilliput’ project, which supervises the preparation of innovative learning materials in 14 domains of lifelong learning activity.    


Certain words just leapt off the page: Pallace, obviously P all ace, Toulouse, nothing to lose, Lilliput, li, li put, Hallam, am all old. Sheffield took a while longer to decipher: She lied ff. I also got suspicious of the audit tool the professor helped develop. I had discovered the big government blunder in one of these, which started the whole ball rolling. I had previously seen the d&n in India, but only now the I c a n in China.

You may now understand why this jet-setting, global player in education, had to rush off to another appointment and why I commended him on speaking for so long about nothing. I am sure he had as much fun as I did and all the while kept a straight face. I typed his name into Google and visited his lengthy website. What a legend!

The place Moreson Lakes I mentioned in the PS of the original feedback email is actually spelled Mawson Lakes. A few months earlier, before my Europe trip, I also attended a seminar in this new suburb arranged by “Messenger Press”. The free local paper was promoting advertising for small businesses. When I met a representative of the Cake shops that fly red, yellow and green balloons I was just a little suspicious. The host of the hour-long sales promotion seemed very interested in Driving Plus Motor School, using my business as example for his talk.

I felt a little embarrassed receiving so much attention. During his presentation, after I had answered a question, he threw me a hat as a promotional gift. The front showed “50 years - Messenger”. This would probably describe my function best – a messenger of the Good News.  


Chapter 59


  Autobiography - Dieter Fischer  




1. More in number      2. A sound mind       3. Now I'm found       4. Candle and the Wind


  5. Realm of Nature      6. All in his Hand        7. The Wonder of it All     8. To Think God loves