The speaker at our monthly meeting was Mark Collins, the son of one of our members, who spoke about the Royal British Legion. Many of us were unaware of the extent and depth of its work with the armed forces and their families. We were delighted to hear of the formation of a new WI in the town. Welcome to the “Early Birds WI”. The Committee is encouraging our members to add to the number of interest groups meeting outside the monthly meetings and it is offering support in setting up these. Initial plans have been made to join in with other town organisations in the celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday on the weekend of 11-12th June---a Pimms tent and the provision of cakes were mentioned. A quick show of hands revealed sufficient interest in an outing on a little train in August with a supper and a quiz on board to send the organiser back to discuss terms and a date.
Today the members of the book group returned De Bernieres “Birds without Wings” for discussion. Unfortunately several people had not managed to finish the novel in the time allocated because it is quite long and the reader has to concentrate: it is not possible to skim. The plot is set in the time of the fall of the Ottoman Empire in a little village in Turkey where normal life is completely destroyed by the fighting in the Balkans, Greece and Turkey in which Russia, Britain, Italy and France all decide to take part. The enforced removal and immigration of different ethnic groups was rather too close to modern events in Syria and Eastern Europe. The descriptions of the brutality of the war around Gallipoli and the cruelty meted out on civilians on all sides made for harrowing reading which prevented others in our group from persevering to complete the novel. Those who did manage admired the writing, the way we were presented with the history of the period through the progress to power of Ataturk and the young and old characters of the little town with its mixture of religions and nationalities, who managed to bring some welcome touches of humour to the tale.
The latest issue of WI Life is celebrating 9 years since it was transformed from being Home and Country and it contains a questionnaire which the editors would like as many members as possible to complete to reveal their views on the magazine. So those who grumble have a chance to state their complaints and let us hope others can bring out the positives too. I also noted that there is concern again about the future of Denman College which is depressing, especially as I for one had missed hearing or reading news of this after believing the upbeat accounts at last year’s Annual General Meeting.