So, what does a typical WI member look like? #IamWI

#IamWI   Ann Foweraker (St. Dominick WI)

Let me say from the start – I’ve been a member of the WI since I was 15  – excepting my years at college, and five living in a city – no WI branches allowed in universities or cities back then, as they are  now. (It’s good to see how well they are developing  in these places now and how many young women are joining them!)  This came about because my mum was going off to her WI meeting ON my 15th birthday… and, as that happened to be the age that you were allowed to join our branch of the WI back then .. I went along. (NB for insurance purposes, apparently, the joining age is now 18)

Now the WI (Women’s Institute) has developed an unfortunate image over the years – emphasised by almost every press report and slanted so that we appear to be jam-making fuddy-duddys and of the pearl and cardie-wearing, tory-voting brigade to boot. Even my Aunt thought this (when she moved from a town in Essex to our Cornish village she expressed this view – despite the fact that I, my mum and another Aunt belonged – none of whom fitted that description in any way whatsoever – except the jam-making part).

‘Jam and Jerusalem’, the papers say, in a disparaging way. Well, yes our rousing ‘song’ is Jerusalem, by William Blake, and I find the ‘bring me my bow of burning gold, bring me my arrows of desire,’ quite stirring 😉 though we do not sing it at our usual meetings nowadays. And as for Jam making – that was effortful war work. What other war work is disparaged?

In nearly a hundred years of being an organisation, the WI has made a huge difference. Though started to help rural women, for education and support, it has taken up the cause in many aspects of life. Some of these then grew into themselves as separate organisations, which still acknowledge their links to their inspiration and formation. Like the Keep Britain Tidy group… an idea and movement initiated by the WI in 1954 and, though now a national organisation, often the people on the ground in villages doing the organisation will still be from the local WI.

Each year we have a resolution and our National arm campaigns on these resolutions. Not just on that year’s one but on any that we have passed over time. They have our mandate; that is the mandate of 212,000 women, to campaign on these issues. Over the past five years these have included ‘No-more violence against women’ ‘SOS Honeybees’ ‘The need for more Midwives’ ‘Care not Custody – for people with mental health issues’ and ‘Time to Talk – about Organ Donation’. It educates, it campaigns and is listened to.

Yet still the WI is disparaged, though now we are also the ‘calendar girls’ (a doubtful accolade) where some potential members are as wary of being asked to strip off… as much as to run a cake stall (or should that be buns?)

So, when one of our members on the UnOfficial WI FB page, a page for WI members to chat and share (not the Official WI FB page which is more for National WI matters) suggested we each took a photo of ourselves holding a sign with the words I AM WI written on it – I thought this a great idea – for, though you know I like making Jam (in my microwave), I also think I am a typical (but NOT-STEREOTYPICAL) WI member! Active in my own life and in the community, busy and enjoying life to the full.

All of which explains the photo of me and my paddleboard at the top of this blog  🙂

Do you belong to the WI?

 If not, what is the image you have of the WI

 Look out for the hashtag #iamwi


My Latest Cover Up …

The saying goes ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ … but we all do, don’t we? And that goes for real books as much as new people and situations that the saying is really about.

So choosing a new cover for a book is one of the hardest non-writing things I have had to do as an Author. After all, I know the whole story inside the book, all the nuances that I would like to hint at, the twists and turns. A cover is just a snapshot of the idea, but it’s an image that has to do a great deal of work.

I have been reminded that I really can’t ‘tell the story’ through this one image, that it has also has to be ‘eye-catching’, ‘look right at the thumbnail size’ that many (most even?) people see a book as when looking for it (ie online) as well as interesting full size (ie on the shelf), ‘be alluring to pick-up’ to scroll down, or actually turn over, to read the back-blurb, and that has to ‘be informative but raise questions’ to instigate the flick through (or open the see-inside feature)

All this from the cover! No wonder it is so difficult.

Now when I placed my books online, before I even dreamt of paperback, when Amazon’s Kindle publishing was the only avenue open to me and they hadn’t got their ‘cover help’ going at all, I got my eldest son to help create the right (pixel) sized covers. He was only over from Malaysia for a short time and we had to work fast. I had a perfect picture for one of them, Nothing Ever Happenes Here, but the others had to be created.

So create we did …. We decided that as the one picture I was happy with had view through a gap between rocks we’d keep that sort of theme. So for Divining the Line I took a photograph between two standing stones and for Some Kind of Synchrony we took a picture of a skyscraper, reflected it and manipulated the second tower to look as if it were wavering, as if seen through rippled water. Well that was the idea… it never did look quite right and was certainly too clear and clean a picture for the type of book. Time ran out and Some Kind of Synchrony stayed under that cover.

It has now become the latest of my novels to move into paperback. I know I have been lapse with the blogging but I have been totally immersed in the world of Faith, Diane and The Story within Some Kind of Synchrony. Once bonus is that I’ve had the opportunity to finesse the ending. At this time space from my original I was able to choose a better arrangement of words to show what I saw in the end scene. That felt good. Then I had to work with my cover designer to create the cover that would do everything asked of it.

The paperback goes into print this week! I am really excited about this, it feels like a having a new release, that I’ve done the story justice at last by giving it a proper working cover and I hope readers, previously put off by the old cover, will be tempted by the new.

Here is the old one  cover




…… and here is the new!  (looks fuzzy here – just click on it to see it clearly)










I feel we’ve hit the nail on the head … there’s gritty … there’s the element of real life and reflection … there’s a slightly retro feel, there’s … well you tell me! Whether you have read it already or not!

You know I love to hear from you!


A spectacle affair

specs pic
courtesy wikimedia commons

As readers of this blog will know this year has been my big six ohhh! Along with this age come a few bonuses, and one of these is not paying for a few things… no, I’ve not taken to pinching stuff… suddenly I do not pay for prescriptions … and, as a letter from a high-street opticians reminded me, nor for an eye test.

Well I have been thinking that perhaps I ought to get them checked, after all I’ve been using those ‘1.0’ basic glasses (you know, £3 and fold up nicely into a slim tube) for a quite a long time now, for reading at odd times, like when in poor light, or small writing, like that on packaging. Oh, all right then… and for ease of reading speedily … without having to squint! Oh, ok… so what if I do have a set in every room and in both handbags? Just means I do not have to go round looking for them! Anyway, the ‘1.0’ were sometimes not quite doing the trick lately (mainly on product ingredients on food packaging etc) so I thought an eye test a good idea at least.

It’s not as if I haven’t had to wear prescription glasses before. Way back… just after I had my first baby I suddenly noticed that I could no longer read the road signs at a distance easily. Now, prior to giving birth, I had excellent eyesight at all distances. When I went for an eye test the optician told me that the hormonal changes could, in some cases, set the lenses. This mean that my eyes now had a mid range only, and I needed prescription glasses for long distance, and to do fine or very close work (like threading small-eye needles) at least a ‘point-one’ basic pair of glasses.

Strangely, my eyesight kept changing .. back .. perhaps the lenses softened again – I really do not know but after about thirty-five each eye test meant a weaker pair of lenses, until, at about fifty, I no longer required glasses for long distance at all. My long distance is excellent at the moment, however, my close vision became steadily worse, so that the spectacles used for only close work were needed for not-so-close work.. then for reading in poor light … or for reading small writing.

I was glad not to need the long distance glasses any more – didn’t have to keep finding them before driving (or buying a second pair with darkened lenses for bright day driving – and finding them when it was bright!) and didn’t have to fork out the huge prices for the frames. Note, not the lenses. I have no problem with the cost of technical, precision-made, personalised items such as the lenses… I do have a difficulty with frames that cost so much when the £3   frames on the ‘1.0’ have been doing their job quite satisfactorily for many years.

So it was with great delight (not to say surprise) that I received the ‘prescription’ from the optician… my eyes were not as good as they were, true, but a ‘2.0’ cheap pair would be fine!

Luckily both my eyes are almost identical in their requirements. She asked what I had been using so far … and when I admitted to using the off the shelf ‘1.0’, she said that the ‘2.0’ should be fine – with a ‘2.5’ for working on a computer (as in when writing the novels!) . WOW

Now as I was waiting for my optician’s appointment I had been looking at some of the frames available.  As it happened the weekend before my friend had just been showing me some snazzy ‘1.0’ – under a £5 each – that she had just bought. These were at least as nice as some up on the racks costing sixty pounds or more. So with my new ‘prescription’ I ordered a few pairs at ‘2.0’ and one at ‘2.5’. They arrived and are comfortable and attractive. Which begs the question … why do the ones available from the optician have to cost so much? (even before the lenses are added)

Any opticians out there would care to enlighten me?

Any one else want to share an optician story?

You know I love to hear from you!


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