Everything Else

Rare U3A Interest groups

A list of more unusual interest groups (offered only by 20 U3As or less) was produced in 2017. This is available on the Sources website here.

The aim of this article was to illustrate the enormously wide range of interests within the 1000+ U3As of the UK and possibly to put people with similar ideas in touch with each other.

Of course, you can check in part what is done nationally via Sitebuilder (used by about 60% of U3A websites), but groups sometimes are hidden there by strange titles. And a term like Serendipity needs elucidation – it means different things in different U3As. Experienced indexers are used to the vagaries and imprecision of language.

In 2017, all websites were visited to seek out rarer subjects on offer (like playing the Zither), an account of that indexing appearing in one of the last print issues of Sources and still available on line. Fond personal memories remain of links made with some unusual groups – dry stone walling and Fungi observation for instance. And of a tongue in cheek remark at the time – does rowing refer to rivers or to arguments!

It is surprising how such information reaches people outside the U3A or beyond UK. I was contacted then, from Australia, by the editor of an international academic journal, The Indexer, requesting an article on this project and also one on recollections of another, quite different, indexing task undertaken much earlier.

Within U3As, new groups constantly arise and (alas) established groups sometimes cease. The index is indicative. but can never be absolutely up to date. Larger U3As are the most fertile ground for the rarer interest groups.

Attempting some revision in the early part of this year unearthed more unusual themes – either previously missed or ones arrived since 2017. These include: Balkan folk dancing; Death (discussion of); Green Living; Maths in art and literature; Puddings; Frank Sinatra; and UNO (a fun card game).

There are also ‘combinations’ – an instance being walking activities where only German is spoken. Our national Chair, Ian McCannah, likes to quote the example of discussing items read in The Economist, though I am not certain this proposed group is actually up and running.

Your Suggestions Requested: National Office staff are keen to update and enhance that 2017 endeavour. So if you think your own U3A has an unusual group that might be included in this on line index, do please contact both myself – arthurmaltby08@gmail.com and Georgia at National Office national.office@u3a.org.uk

We would love to hear from you!

Arthur Maltby