Confessions of a 22 year old WI member

Written by: Sophie Taylor

Meet Anna Walker, 22, one of the youngest members of the Camden based Women’s Institute. What compelled her to join and what the D do they get up to in those elusive meetings?

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Dry jokes and wine in plastic cups filled to the brim

Looking online to find my local WI meeting place proves mysteriously difficult and any information eludes me. I’m intrigued. My preconception of the WI is of course all purple rinses and Victoria sponges, save for the odd case of a hipster in her twenties who wants to crochet her own iPhone case. I wanted to find out more about what goes on in 2016 and what compelled 22-year-old Anna to join.

What first attracted you to join the WI?

“I find it hard to meet new people in London outside of work. To have the opportunity to sit and carry out a practical task without looking at a screen is therapeutic, it feels good.”

When and where do you meet?

“We meet once a month at the Camden Pirate Castle which makes it sound so cool. It’s right in the heart of Camden, which is a liberal area and this is definitely reflected in the members. It’s a secular, feminist group. With very dry jokes and wine in plastic cups filled to the brim.”

Do you sing Jerusalem at the start of meetings?

“No! Noo. But we did listen to some Amy Winehouse last night.”

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I hear you’ve made some rather fetching bunting. Do you think craft culture is perhaps a way of regaining the old traditions of women spinning yarn and creating myths and tales together?

“It definitely works as an easy glue to help bond a group of women who, on the surface, have nothing in common. Sitting in a group and working together towards a common goal, watching our individual triangles of bunting get sewn together for example is very unifying. I think that probably does hark back to the old traditions of women sitting and spinning yarns and tales together. It’s therapeutic and ritualistic, yes. I enjoy it. The craft making process is no longer a competitive culture within the WI and is more about learning old skills. The older members show us their skills that are getting lost.”

If you identify as female, the WI should be a safe space for you.

Apparently, there were once two male members, Colonel Richard Stapleton-Cotton and his dog. Do you think men should be allowed to join if they want?

“No! I just think there are so many situations in society still where women feel excluded. It’s refreshing to have a space where you are accepted for who you are and not judged on how you are supposed to be as a female.”

 

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Is the transgender community allowed to join?

“Of course. I would hope so. I can’t speak for the whole of the WI, but if you identify as female then this should be a safe space for you.”

What’s been your favourite WI moment so far?

“Whenever we put what we’ve learned into practice. At last night’s meeting we learned about herbology and how to plant certain herbs in our own roof garden at the Pirate Castle to treat issues like PMT and stress. It quickly turned to folklore and spells: we ended up eating the herbs and drinking the tea in the roof garden.”

And your oddest?

“My bunting triangle was supposed to look like the feminist fist. But it went a bit wrong and resembles an erect penis instead.”

 

 

Well. If that’s stirred your appetite for more than a jam roly poly, you can enquire about joining the Ladies of The Lock by emailing ladiesofthelockwi@gmail.com

 

 

Photos courtesy of Ladies of the Lock Instagram @ladiesofthelockwi

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