Back to the past, darlings.
My mother and I were invited by Gill to join the WI in the next village. Unlike many, it has its meetings in the evenings, so that all ages could come and members ranged in ages from their twenties to their eighties. I gathered that it had been in the doldrums and several young mums decided to support and literally rejuvenate it.
There was a speaker every month, of course, and we all sat around the room in a horseshoe rather than in rows. Being very poor with names but anxious to improve, I used to sit there trying to put names to faces every month. I had always been absolutely dreadful with both names and faces but I have worked very hard, over the past 30+ years, at improving and I can tell you that it is possible. I finally pinned down that I can manage the first name much better than both, so that’s what I focus on.
I used to be permanently worried as a child, in case I got a name wrong or hadn’t taken on board that Sue had decided to be called Susie or Liz was now Betty. I was frightened of giving offence or being ridiculed, so avoided using names altogether. I don’t know when I turned that around, but I completely have – if there’s anything I’ve ever achieved, squashing that demon comes high. A couple of weeks ago, in the dress shop, when I greeted a friend from way back by name and asked after her children BY NAME – I was actually genuinely proud of myself, which no one will comprehend unless they’ve been equally incompetent as I used to be.
After a while, i joined the committee and then it was only a matter of time before I became secretary, which really helped with names as I had them all written down.
Food was a big thing at the WI. We’d all eaten before we came out, so didn’t want to eat biscuits with our end-of-evening tea or coffee, but appreciated some nice little snacks to finish the day. There was a rota you signed up for, with a couple of other people, and you set up everything and served it. The big urn in which the water was boiled didn’t have a cut-off so, when the water boiled, the kitchen filled with steam. One tried to remember to pop through and turn it down before that but, invariably, it was forgotten and when the hostess opened the kitchen door, a cloud wafted through and it never failed to amuse.