Another year has passed, the sixth year of our WI vintage refreshment room upstairs at the Jenny Lind on the day of the Hastings Jack-in-the- Green parade. Needless to say, our tireless WI women did an excellent job. I’ve written about this before.
The event gets busier and busier, and the parade longer and longer, every year. Our event starts at 10.30, when a few early birds appear wanting coffee and cake, but then the parade arrives outside our windows. Not only arrives, but stops for a prolonged break while people dance, drum and whatever – and flock up to us for food and drink. Many of them have the most enormous and ornate costumes, which fills up the space still further.
This year our room was so crowded we had to turn people away, and I got tough with a few who brought drinks up from the bar downstairs with no intention of buying our stuff. Then, eventually, the parade makes its slow way off towards the West Hill, and our room quietens down. By 1.30 all the food had been scoffed up and we closed an hour early. We brave the revelling hordes downstairs in the pub and on the street and sell them anything surplus.
I hardly had a chance to take any photos, none of the hard-working WI staff, and none of the parade outside – this year there were so many people jammed in the windows I couldn’t see it anyway. Most of the photos on this post are my favourites from previous years.
I always come away with a sense of a good job well done, but of all the events the WI does, this is by far the hardest work. All those crates of china and equipment that have to be brought down from our store further down the High Street, loaded into our car, (the trouble with having a strong Philosopher husband and a car like a Skoda Yeti is that we can carry any amount of guff about…) then taken to the pub and lumped upstairs on Sunday night when we set the room up, then there’s the event on Monday, then clearing up and taking everything down and back up to the store on the Tuesday… I didn’t do that last bit today – got a busy day and then we are off to Spain…
Not all our members help with events like this, which have to raise money to fund our own activities, never mind support our local charities. Some don’t volunteer, some make cakes (all respect, because I don’t, and particular respect to Shirley, who makes millions of cheese scones…) and some are willing to physically help. I understand the latter is not for everyone – you have to be tough, strong in body and mind, resourceful and confident in all situations as well as willing to join in. Across any group, that list of criteria would reduce the number of volunteers to a trickle, but WI women have a reputation for physical and mental toughness, and we live up to it.
Get this, yesterday, one man actually told me he had come to our do because ‘I want to be scared by women like you…’ I acted very scary and gave him a good telling off (well, perhaps not acting, hell, I am the Battleaxe) and he gave me an extra £5. Hmm. Maybe we don’t have to do all that crafting and catering to raise money… we could just pop on our WI pinnies and get fierce, but I don’t somehow think that would be in accordance with the WI ethos…
Our do is an excellent profile raiser for the WI. As well as all the other revellers, we had brief visits from the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, and long visits from former Mayor Judy Rogers, who is going to be one of the speakers at the Federation Annual Meeting in Hastings 2020, Robin from the Lilac Room who is going to judge our next Charity Shop Fashion Show and Sarah K from Fairlight Hall, which gave me the chance to bend her ear about our Federation do up there on 6 July etc.
That’s all now – busy, busy….