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Top Mensa minds master all things Welsh

Jun 18 2005

Robin Turner, Western Mail

 

SOME of the brainiest people in Britain are gathering in Wales this weekend to discover just how highbrow we can be.

Mensa member Jackie Lyndon, 55, a mother-of-two from Swansea has arranged the gathering in Swansea's Dragon Hotel.

It includes:

A learn Welsh in an hour session;

A "hard" version of the word game Countdown;

Games of Swansea Monopoly using landmarks such as The Kingsway instead of Pall Mall;

Trivial Pursuit, and

Poker - but not for money.

Ms Lyndon said at the hotel yesterday, "I want to put Swansea, Gower and West Wales on the Mensa map.

"There is so much to offer here like the Dylan Thomas Trail from Swansea to Laugharne, the coves and beaches of Gower and interesting pubs and restaurants."

Mensans, as they like to be known, from Ireland, Scotland and England are travelling to the Welsh weekend and one is even making the trip from Texas.

Ms Lyndon added, "It's certainly not elitist - unlike the character in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy we haven't got two heads, well, not most of us anyway!"

All the activities this weekend have an intellectual side but are designed to be sociable and fun.

There are trips to mining museum Big Pit, the Dylan Thomas Trail and voyages around Swansea Bay.

And back at the hotel, Mensans will be exercising their ample grey matter with talks about environmental sustainability, games like Welsh Monopoly, backgammon and quizzes.

Ms Lyndon added, "What I like about Mensa is it's a lively social circle. It's a wonderful way of getting out and about."

Sir Jimmy Saville is one of Mensa's more famous members.

Others include Welsh-born TV presenter Carol Vorderman and inventor Sir Clive Sinclair.

Ms Lyndon added, "Our members come from all walks of life including many well- known people but they do not all choose to publicise their membership.

"But many have ordinary jobs and lives but they've just got a way of looking at things that's slightly skewed and that's what I like about it."

The name Mensa comes from the Latin for table, chosen because the organisation sees itself as a round table where everyone is equal.

British Mensa was founded in 1946 and currently has about 25,500 members, 1,000 of whom live in Wales.

Jackie Lyndon says Mensans are not elitist, not snobby and like nothing better than having fun.

She joined Mensa seven years ago after appearing on the TV quiz show Countdown.

She said, "I loved the experience and afterwards I just wanted another challenge.

"I joined Mensa, found I could do some of the tests and discovered I was a lateral thinker.

"At the time I was going through a divorce and I found the social side of Mensa a real help.

"You can get out and about and meet like-minded people."

Jackie, whose daughter Jessica is currently at university and whose son Dale, 23, also a Mensan, has just graduated, has three jobs.

She works at the alumni office of Swansea University organising reunions and other events. She is also a tutor in adult education at the university and has become involved in the Dylan Thomas Prize.

This is a new international prize for young writers and film star Catherine Zeta-Jones has agreed to become its international ambassador.

 
 

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