Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Joining in


I've done it at last, after years of talking about it  - I've been to a Women's Institute meeting.

I've mentioned the WI before, when I accidentally missed last month's meeting. In her comment then, Lucille mentioned 'Jam and Jerusalem', a gem of a BBC tv series that, somehow, I had always missed. After a bit of Youtubing to find clips from the series, and laughing helplessly throughout, I acquired the entire series. So I went well-prepared for my introduction, secretly hoping that it would be just like Clatterford's Women's Guild.

I went only as a no-obligation Visitor, you understand, encouraged by a lovely neighbour who is on t'Committee. My sister Anne came too, as a Visitor's visitor, I suppose.

We were warmly welcomed, and were found seats in the midst of probably 40 other women. At first, we thought that we were the youngest there - certainly outnumbered by white and grey heads and many tidy shampoo-and-sets - until a younger woman in jeans seized on a chair beside us.

And I loved it all: the friendly warmth, the small comfortable agenda, the lively speaker, a local farmer (sheep milking, restoration of the local deer park, with a hugely informative little digression on the Government-planned badger cull), the attentive responsive audience who asked intelligent questions - to the poor man's evident relief. The little handmade posies for all with a birthday that month, the tea, the cake, the consternation caused by my request for a cup of tea with very little milk, and Anne's request for coffee with lots of milk, the way the door creaked loudly, betraying every latecomer. The three elderly ladies who chatted audibly throughout the vote of thanks, quite oblivious to all the "Ssshhhh!"-ing, the competition (theme 'Belgium' -  winning entry a bowl of Brussels sprouts), the positivity, forward-thinking and energy that belied the average age range.

'Jerusalem' wasn't sung. Phew, what a relief.

And am I going to join? You bet.


I've already been co-opted (by the younger woman in jeans, and several others) onto the skittles group that's meeting next week in my local pub. Being completely clueless, I'm assured, doesn't matter in the least.


Next month's competition theme: Canada. I'll report back.

26 comments:

Toffeeapple said...

Crikey, I'm impressed!

Arthur Ransome said...

Oooh, that does sound like fun. What do you have to do for the competitions? The bowl of sprouts winning for the Belgium theme rather puzzles me . . .

Danielle P. said...

It sounds like an absolute hoot! WIsh there was such a thing as WI around here...

Lucille said...

I think you'd be in with a chance if you took a bottle of maple syrup.

MLou said...

Let's us know if you need Canadian items for the competition. Live Beavers, moose, maple syrup...are all ready to hand here in this part of the woods.

Bow Street Flowers said...

o, I'm going to love these reports!

Lisa said...

I too live in Canada. Did you know that this is where the WI was founded?.Any info , cookie recipes to take along etc, just ask...

Rose H (UK) said...

Sounds like great fun!

Isabelle said...

I could supply thistles, shortbread, haggis...

What's wrong with "Jerusalem"? It's a splendid thing.

crowbloke said...

ah, what a wealth of material. looking forward to future post. also, i thought i recognised those faces.. i loved that show.

Sue said...

You watch out, they'll have you posing for naked calendars before you know it.

It sounds absolutely wonderful and I'm sorely tempted to join. I like singing Jerusalem though.

BumbleVee said...

Canada eh? me too.... wondering here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada what it is you have to do for the theme competition'?

ooooh.... and you will have to encourage them all to go for long walkies with you and dogs... all that food to consume each meeting .... yikes!

Noelle said...

Oh now Rachel...I wanted to be there too! Actually I attended as a visitor too a few years back(hard to do when you are thousands miles away) .
Belgium hum? I hate Brussels sprouts and I am always asked why since well, everyone assumes I should love them!
Canada? I am curious about what they will talk of.
Sounds like you had a marvelous time and I hope you continue to share!
The milk in the tea brought a chuckle too...I can't stand dairy products and my cup showed little tea but LOTS of milk...
Hugs to all,

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I'd join like a shot . And as long as there's beer with the skittles , I'd join that , too . The perfect way to know EVERYONE for miles around .
Canada ? You couldn't persuade Tosca to dress up as a Husky , pulling a little sled ?

frayedattheedge said...

I am extremely envious - so much better than the local Rural (Scottish WI) that I endured for a few meetings!!

hasenschneck said...

Oh well done. I was invited to join the WI when I moved to Somerset, "We need younger members..." but I haven't been yet. I'm sure it's a great way to meet new people locally though.

Do post something about skittles when you've been. That's something that I've been quite interested in finding out more about. I'd never seen skittle alleys before I got here.

Frances said...

Your WI meeting sounds great . I have been to my " ladies club " this evening. We had a speaker talking about the home front in the local town ( St.Albans ) and he was excellent. Some speakers are dire! We only get biscuits though , so jealous of your cake. Paramedics were called to one older lady who had some sort of collapse, probably because the room was so hot ( new boiler apparently! ) I understand your initial feelings about the grey hair and old fashioned sets. I too felt like that when I first started to go but most of them are lively and interesting people ( just like us ! ! ) looking forward to hearing about your next meeting, and the bowling .

mountainear said...

I was persuaded to join our local group....and while I don't actually regret it too much it's not much to look forward to. There are now only 13 members and I would estimate 50% are over 80. I feel like a naughty schoolgirl amongst them. There's not much to attract younger women sadly.

Your WI sounds more promising.

zephyr said...

Thank you for reminding me of that show...i'm off to Netflix, hoping i can get the rest of the episodes since the tv on this side of things hasn't shown them all.

Rattling On said...

Umm, I joined my local. They do sing Jerusalem and there's only one woman younger than me. Dare I say they weren't particularly welcoming and the Chairwoman still (after 3 meetings) hasn't even acknowledged me...
But I am still considering setting up a branch and really need to see how it all works and whether it would be worth all the inevitable effort. We shall have to compare notes!

Shelagh said...

I'm so glad you went and that you enjoyed it. Canadian things available through me too of course. Although I do like the idea of dressing up Tosca as a husky. Not that she would of course. Maybe you can use the maple syrup or the Leacock book. Or do you have Anne of Green Gables?? I could send Laura Secord chocolates if your next meeting isn't for a bit. In any case, sounds like the whole thing is right up your alley. Enjoy!!

Kitty said...

Just been catching up with your life down at t'other end of the country, and love it all - the new cupboard is especially good. And your sister looks like my old latin/classics teacher. Right, now must go and walk dogs and cat (who comes with us - do yours do that?), nice to catch up!

Karen said...

As a Canadian, I can't wait!

jabblog said...

Well done! I've often thought about it but I'n not really a joiner so I'd probably go twice and then never again . . .

Gwen Buchanan said...

Being an Introvert, It would be difficult for me to attend... but I wish I could sit invisibly in the corner and observe... oh I guess I sort-of am. cheers!

Ginnie said...

Oh, so excellent! It sounds like a great evening, especially after such low expectations on your part. How fun to be able to do it when your sister was visiting, too!

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