My applicationfor the WI in my Yorkshire village was rejected on the grounds I wouldn’t fit in, that was round about the time the Calendar Girls of Rylstone WI had broken cover in more ways than one and women like me needed to be kept in check. Subversive as ever, of course I carried on baking bread, jamming, crafting and following my obsessions. Who’d of thought it would take so long for the to change to come but my goodness now the WI rocks.
I first became aware that things might be changing when I was told Cheltenham Race Course aspired to harnessing the mighty cake baking skills of the local WI to supply race days, how exciting, at last these skills were being recognised and valued. It’s not just about stirring together sugar, eggs and flour, more about the whole that goes with it. Yes, those rituals of cake baking and jamming are the sticky glue that add occasion and hold families and communities together. It’s also about the pride in the craft, the organisational skills, nurturing the individual and commnity, it’s valuing these qualities which extend far beyond the home. As someone who never thought it had gone away, count me in with the renaissance.