Somehow or other the Bucks Annual Council Meeting seems to occur on a momentous day such as that of Maggie Thatcher’s funeral or when Prince Philip announces his retirement---events which impact on our main speakers. The morning agenda dealt with the business side of the Federation, announcements of forthcoming events and a preview of the Bucks resolution going up for discussion at the NFWI Annual General Meeting in Liverpool in June. There was also a presentation from Johnny Walker of Taylors Bulbs who told us how great a contribution the members’ orders bring to the finances of the BFWI and he managed to be amusing as well. Mr Walker certainly knows his audience. This was followed by a thought-provoking talk from Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive of FairShare whose work is very relevant to the NFWI’s concern about food waste. It was also timely for the campaign which should hit the headlines at the end of this month. Lyndsay thinks big with 5 warehouses already working full time in London. He is planning others in major cities across the country. The ridiculous reasons given for stores and factories to throw out food border on being criminal. This is a sphere in which the WI members can make a difference by challenging the perpetrators.
In the afternoon, Judge Francis Sheridan gave the WI members an update on his campaign to assist the NFWI in keeping people with mental disabilities out of jail for criminal offences and for injecting more speed and compassion into the family courts, especially in relation to children and domestic abuse. We have a strong ally on the county circuit. Then it was Giles Brandreth to talk about the seven sources of happiness. Actually, the audience didn’t know that was his chosen topic until almost the end of his very entertaining talk. He has become something of an authority on the Duke of Edinburgh so it was natural that he talked about the Prince’s life following the day’s announcement. Giles was very amusing and involved the BOT members in his presentation: I thought our Vice-Chair Pat Poole and Tracy Girdler-Rogers did very well in what at times became an unrehearsed double act. At the end, he did define happiness as being a leaf on a living and growing tree which tied in neatly with the WI member’s part in the WI and in the community.
Tonight, the local WI held its Resolution meeting. Both subjects were covered by members using the presentations available on the NFWI website. This means that the facts and figures can be seen on the screen and are not difficult to take in from someone talking and reading at the same time. It will be interesting to hear what the members thought of this method. We instructed our delegate from a neighbouring WI to vote in favour of both resolutions but we only gave her discretion on the Loneliness vote, not the Plastic Soup. A longstanding member then talked about her experiences over the years as a member of Winslow WI from the age of fourteen. All the scrapbooks were on display and it was interesting and rather sad to see the shift away from drama and music which has taken place in our WI and indeed right across the WI movement.
The local WI book group met this afternoon to talk over “The Shadow of the Wind” by Zafon. This thriller set in Spain around the civil war was popular with the readers, much more so than the previous title, Salmon Rushdie’s “Midnight Children”. There was a bit too much blood and gore in the Zafon for me but I was definitely in the minority: the author covered nearly every means of a violent death in some detail. The others enjoyed the almost Dickensian melodrama and the descriptions of terrible poverty and hardship. There was humour too and the descriptions of the squalor were good. There was certainly plenty of action and frequent flashbacks covered by letters and interviews with those just hanging on to life long enough to tell their story. We are off to Peru with the next title for a bit of mountain-climbing.
The Happy Stitchers are busy knitting, crocheting, making patchwork and generally wielding their needles---the only needles we are not prepared to accept are those used for tattoos. We also looked at what the members had made at the rag rug session in Padbury and wondered whether we might travel down to Stuart Lodge one Tuesday to visit its craft shop and perhaps go to the next Craft Fair at the NEC.