The WI has hit the headlines again. WI members in a writing circle in Somerset have published a collection of short stories which is apparently very close to pornographic in the eyes of other members. Bucks Federation have run some writing workshops over the last couple of years. I wonder what they got up to! Could our members have done the same? The media is now conducting a campaign to find out the author of the hottest story and is looking for a middle-aged, quiet, ex-librarian or teacher sort of person rather than a modern young lady into Twitter and Mumsnet.Obviously the world thinks there's life yet in the stereotype older member! When one remembers some of the novels which we have read in the Book Group I cannot see why everyone is so surprised and shocked by this story.Times they are a-changing and it is a similar situation to the "Calendar Girls" that these things amaze because the WI has always this image of respectability and constraint. Anyway there is no such thing as bad publicity and the WI may be 100 years old but it's still alive and kicking.
Breaking rules was the topic tackled by the Discussion Group this evening.We were soon on to when was a lie not a lie and what lies were almost unavoidable in normal life.Was breaking speed restrictions and receiving parking tickets viewed in quite the same way as dodging the customs? Did opinion on tax evasion, which is a type of stealing after all, depend on the size of the money involved eg. is it OK to pay cash for house repairs knowing this is tax evasion less culpable than using a Swiss bank?
So many rules both social, religious and moral that it is not surprising that there is probably no one who can honestly say that she is guilt free however well-intentioned.
After just a 3 week gap the monthly WI meeting seemed to come round very quickly.We watched a demonstration by a representative from the Body Shop which depressed some members of the audience when one heard about all the procedures one should undertake or should have already been following for years to prevent signs of age! The Craft Group reported on an enjoyable "Christmas" lunch and the sub-committee for the WI baton's arrival in April plan to meet next week.Although we have been through a difficult time with health problems among our members, there was a good turnout.Members are signing up for Gift Aid on their subscriptions for the first time.The information about the next Group Meeting sounds interesting so there should be a big crowd attending and we don't need to limit the numbers to fit into the hall. As the hostess WI we will have to feed them all but many hands will make light work of that problem.
The local WI Book Group has been reading "Good Evening, Mrs Craven" by Molly Panter-Downes which is a collection of short stories about Britain during the Second World War. The author was an American living in England and observing the life of women left at home while their husbands and sons were serving in the forces.Sometimes it reminded us of the Alistair Cooke "Letters from America" in reverse. The author's eye for British idiosyncrasies is very true and they are amusingly described. Life was never going to be the same after the war because the social classes were never again going to be so separate: war work and the evacuation of Londoners into the countryside would bring about many changes. The stories were short but complete with effective characterisation. Personal memories were awakened among our readers and I think we were all surprised that we knew nothing of this writer: one of the joys of a reading group---to find and enjoy a book that we would never have discovered alone.
We also covered "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes which was the December choice when we missed a meeting. I am afraid several had become rather bored by this, fed up with tales of cooking and house renovation by an American obsessed with all things Italian. We couldn't imagine how it could have been made into a successful film until one of the readers reported that a quite steamy love story had been grafted into it. The descriptions of the countryside with its flora and fauna were appreciated on a cold British winter day but we would have liked a bit more information about the Etruscan remains which were being unearthed for the structural alterations.