Our W.I. our local W.I. the one in our village is to close. I can’t believe it. It’s just not possible. I remember when we first came here. I knew no-one. I was stuck at home most of the time with an eighteen-month-old toddler. My husband took the car to go to work every day and I was left on my own in a little bungalow on a country lane half a mile from the village.
Soon I was walking to the village shop and post office. Then I saw poster advertising the next W.I. meeting. It was only a couple of days away. I turned up. I explained that I had been a W.I. member when we lived in Wales and asked if I could join. The ladies were surprised. I don’t think anyone had just turned up before. Most people were introduced by friends. I didn’t have any friends in the village – not then.
I soon settled in and felt at home. In the village, in the community, in the Women’s Institute. I’ve been on the committee; at different times I’ve been treasurer, president, secretary and press officer. The secretary’s job is definitely the hardest.
And now they are going to close. Lack of interest, they say. No young members. (By “young” they mean women in their forties with kids at school.) No one willing to be officers or committee members. It’s saddening. We had such fun. I got to know women I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I went to meetings, not just in our village, but further afield. I’ve been twice to Denman College, the W.I. residential courses centre near Oxford. But that’s another story – and a fascinating one.
Not the W.I. not our W.I. I can’t believe it! They’d never…I mean our president would never allow it…would she? I know about the Calendar Girls and all that but surely a lap dancing class in the village hall is a bit much. I mean the Mothers’ Union meet there and the Brownies, just think of the example it’s setting them. What would Brown Owl say?
We’ve had all sorts of other classes, aerobics and keep fit and what not. We’ve had some dances too, and dancing classes. They used to do Scottish Country dancing at one time. That was years ago when Mrs McSporran was president. When she went back to Scotland the classes sort of fizzled out – well it wasn’t the same without the bagpipes.
Then we had a lady talk to us about belly dancing – I must admit I thought it was ballet dancing, you know Swan Lake and all that. Mustn’t have read my programme properly. As turned out, it was quite interesting. I’ll never forget when old Mrs whatshername wanted to have a go. She must weigh about twenty stone and she’s older than me and I’ve got my bus pass. But she’s a game old bird, give her her due. A pity she overdid it, though. The paramedics were very kind and she was out of hospital within a couple of days.
Last year they went in for Line Dancing. All dressed up as cowboys – or cowgirls I suppose you’d call ‘em. A lot of stamping and clapping and shouting “You hoo!” A bit too much noise for my taste.
But lap dancing! I ask you! I don’t know what the W.I. is coming to. I’m sure our founder members would turn in their graves – those that have passed on, that is. I don’t know what our programme secretary was thinking of . I know it’s hard to get good speakers and travel costs can mount up if they live a distance away, but really…I’ll have to get our president to have a word with her.
I’ll just check what it says for tonight’s meeting. Oh dear, I’d not realised I’m down as one of the tea hostesses so I’ll have to turn up. It’s a Miss Dora something – some name I can’t pronounce, probably she’s foreign. What’s this? There’s been a correction to the programme. A typo, as our secretary would say. The talk is “My Life as a Tap Dancer” from Blackpool Pier to the London Palladium.