06 April 2015

My Monthly Angst!

President's Badge... I really should get one!

Being president of the local WI has its drawbacks as well as its positive side and even after almost two years in the chair I still feel like an incompetent newcomer. You would not believe that previous experience at greater heights failed to give me confidence. I’m okay on the outside so I don’t think people notice, but inside... well, my stomach quivers like jelly. Maybe it’s because I’m older now, who knows.

When I think about it, I remember that previous experience was helped by a team of people who each had their own job. It meant that all angles were catered for without problems. Now, though, in a smaller institute I find there are too many cooks to spoil the broth. Either that or no cooks at all! It is very hard work trying to implement change when no attempt at change has been tried before. So why bother, I ask myself. Joe is great, he boosts my ego to such a point that I keep on trying.

I was elected president on the grounds that change needed to be made. Everything was dull, no interest being shown in any arrangement until it got that no-one bothered to try anything new. That’s where I came in. It was said that if anyone could brighten the place up, it was me. So, for my sins, I was elected.

Now, have you ever tried to shift an elephant? You can talk to it, cajole it to move, but you can’t get it to move any faster than it wants. And yet it can move fast IF it wants. Same with my institute’s members, they could, if they tried, enjoy things. They could, if they tried, show a bit of enthusiasm.

The WI programme is fairly straightforward: a bit of business, a speaker, a raffle, a cuppa with cake, and a chat with friends. It’s the extra activity (EA) that causes the problem. The monthly meeting is exactly that – monthly. But in the dim and distant past someone, in their wisdom, decided that four weeks was too long a gap away from their WI buddies. Hence the EA which occurs bang in the middle.

Years ago (and I DO mean YEARS) people chose the EA to do craftwork, making things and learning stuff, but now that members have reached great ages they don’t want to know. Understandably they have been there and done that and don’t want to do it again, yet still want SOMETHING. That ‘something’ is a mystery to me. Whatever I or others suggest or organise is ignored. Nobody shows any interest. Yet still I hear the whispered remark ‘we don’t DO anything’.

What DO members like?

It is very noticeable that they like to eat or attend anything that includes food. They’ll queue up for that! I did wonder if perhaps they don’t eat at home. The trouble is that committee members, who are also in advancing years, find it too much to keep members fed as well as their own families. They’ve had enough. Consequently, with this in mind, we suggested eating out as an extra activity. The local pub does a great carvery so that pleased the membership. But then the committee decided that they should still try and lay on something else. Just when I thought I was winning......

I am rapidly coming round to using the expression ‘Tough!’ It may or may not be the right attitude but it’s very satisfying for my somewhat disillusioned soul.

This year the WI celebrates its Centenary. Yes, 100 years. I wonder how many institutes have grieved about or pondered upon the same or similar situations and how many more will follow the same route. It is comforting to know that deep down we're all the same. 


  1. It all sounds like hard work and very frustrating Valerie. I have no suggestions for you I'm afraid. xx

  2. There are brighter moments, Pearl, but plenty of frustrations.

  3. Trying to please so many people sounds like a major challenge Valerie. Do they delve out medals? If so you deserve one :)

  4. So sorry I missed this post yesterday, Valerie, but once again...Feedly didn't update!?#!

    WONDERFULLY expressed post! And I know and feel your frustration because even though I don't belong to a specific institute, the city in which I live, is very much like the WI - it always talks about wanting change but then when our city's mayor MAKES a change, everyone resists it (or complains about it). I've come to the conclusion that many people are afraid of change and stepping outside their comfort zone.

    I'm sure you're doing a splendid job as president, so don't get discouraged. I think it's more about the members NOT being open to change.

    "I’m okay on the outside so I don’t think people notice, but inside... well, my stomach quivers like jelly."

    I was the same way when I was still acting. I appeared okay on the outside, but I was very nervous in the inside.

    Have a terrific Tuesday, dear lady!

    X to you and Joe

  5. Hi Ron. I guessed Feedly was the problem so I pulled and reposted the article. The things we have to do, eh!

    I hadn't considered the contrariness of people, it's the same here. When changes are proposed the people go berserk. You would think they'd been given the death penalty sometimes. Perhaps I shouldn't complain about the folk I deal with... or at least take it all with a pinch of salt. Your reference to the acting profession reminds me that some actor say they do better when they are nervous. I must remember that... haha.

  6. I think me and Joe are in the same position but obviously he's doing a better job with it than I am. :)

  7. You can please some of the people some of the know the saying.

    Frankly, dearheart, I'd say it's good leadership to look at the whole and not just the random noise maker. Make note, keep moving. That's what I find myself doing in any organization. That's why there's a mission statement. It keeps us focused amidst the grumblings of others.
    It's what leaders do.
    They did want you back for a reason, yaknow!

  8. Do you think younger members are needed? It's hard to know how to attract particular groups of people but there are in fact a lot of younger women who love the idea of cooking, knitting, etc. I think a surprising number might enjoy the WI but it does need something to bring them in. Well, that is where my bright ideas grind to a halt, since it is a matter of agreeing on a way of attracting these people! Your post I think will ring a bell with anyone involved with a committee. At least they DO get involved, which is a big plus. Good luck!

  9. You have taken on a big responsibility and I admire you for giving it a go. It is hard to please a big group especially ones who done react well to change. You do deserve a medal.

  10. Sorry that this is so frustrating for you, Val. Best of luck in pulling it off and I have no doubts it will be awesome because you are. Take care.


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