Hastings Battleaxe and Jack in the Green – our WI delivers the goods!

As ever, I feel really proud of our Hastings Ore WI gang. On the hottest May Bank Holiday on record, yet again we made sure that the Jack in the Green revellers had access to a really great refreshment room, upstairs in the Jenny Lind pub. I’ve written about this before, we have done the gig for about five years now.  We really do have an exceptional crowd of women… we all pull together so well and work so hard.

Jack goes past below our window..

     It is good fun, but a massive feat of physical exertion. On Friday, some of us went to our storeroom in the Old Town (up on the first floor, up steep stairs) and carried umpteen heavy crates of china and catering supplies down to Battleaxe’s and Philosopher’s car. On Sunday evening, it all gets shipped down to the pub, where more of us are waiting to set the room up – the crates have to be carried up to the first floor of the pub, and much heavy furniture has to be moved around.
     Women across Hastings bake cakes and savouries ready to be taken down to the pub, and this year we had knitted Jack in the Green and Morris Dancer dolls for sale, and little green leaf felt bags. Battleaxe does not bake, neither does she sew, but I hope I make up for it in other ways….
      Monday morning we were dressed in our green finery and down at the pub by 9am, because roads are then closed to traffic. We put all the food out, arranged flowers and greenery, put posters and flyers out etc. ready to start at 10.30. This year, around ten of us helped – in the kitchen, making drinks, waitressing, and another crew took over at lunchtime. Battleaxe is there the whole time….
     Ten helpers sounds a lot but trade steadily builds up until the long procession, led by Jack himself, winds its way down the High Street below our windows. It then pauses for around forty-five minutes, during which time our world goes mad. People in huge costumes cram into the room, wanting a sit-down and refreshment. Spectators are crowded at all the windows…. we are rushing back and forth….

      This year, we had a visit from the Mayor of Hastings, Judy Rogers, and Battleaxe was even asked for string to mend one of our regular customer’s sagging wooden willy…. See unsuitable photo below…

     This year we did a huge trade in cold drinks and just plain water. I have never seen the street below so busy….

      At one stage we thought we had not got enough cake. Philosopher had
gone to the retail park to B & Q so we asked him to pop into
Marks…. no, I won’t talk about those birthday cakes…. but seriously,
some WI husbands are indispensible.
     When the parade starts up again the crowd thins out and our trade goes quieter. If we have left over food we take it out to the pub garden and to the drinkers below, and sell it. This year, because of the heat, the street was full of cheerful drunks – they tried to steal my cake…  From Battleaxe? Huh. I don’t think so…. This year, we finished about 2.30, and then everything has to be washed up and put away in the crates again, ready to be lumped back up to the storeroom today, Tuesday.
      We made over £400….

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