We are, of course, grateful to Bill Thorne for his defence of the London Esperanto Club and are glad that he has found it worthwhile to come on Friday evenings for so many years, despite not understanding anything. We are also pleased that he has drawn attention to the fact that we actually use Esperanto during our club meetings — something which at least our foreign visitors find helpful. Most highly appreciated is his evaluation of the long speeches, of which he catches only the odd word here and there.
He contributes to the choir on his guitar and enlivens our 'festoj' on his keyboard. He was the agent through whom the club acquired through whom the club acquired a new member — one who, in less than two years, has earned himself the Diploma with distinction. He also exchanges visits with people who do not have complete command of the English language — may even not know a single word — so he does use Esperanto for its real purpose and we have met some of his visitors in the club.
Bill is, therefore, a valued member and long may he continue to come to the club — for whatever personal reasons.
There are, however, aspects of the club which some of us feel could be changed to advantage, as with any human activity, and we do our best little by little. There are other aspects which are well worth preserving. Any group with a long history carries a lot of baggage and we must avoid throwing away the baby with the bathwater. It is, however, rather hard to be criticised for actually using Esperanto in our Esperanto club. Wouldn't one expect to play bridge in a bridge club, tennis in a tennis club or chess in a chess club? One gets one's practice in clubs. Would members of those clubs be willing to give up their activity in order to amuse someone who doesn't want to play?
We really are proud that we use Esperanto in the club. How can we argue that Esperanto can solve any problems, in Europe or anywhere else, if we ourselves don't bother to learn it? So much for it being an easy language! Our members vary from eternal beginners to the extremely capable. I am somewhere in the middle, having started to learn if late in life. The fact that I have the confidence to go abroad and use my imperfect Esperanto to make friends with people, with whom I have no other common language, is due entirely to getting weekly speaking practice in the London Club. Without that, my Esperanto would be, like my German and French, almost entirely passive.
And Bill, there is no need to go on not understanding anything — it is in your hands. In fact, it must take quite a lot of willpower to avoid learning something during your visits to the club. Why waste so much determination?