Monday, September 28, 2009

Jam and Jerusalem via Brighton

I've been watching The X Factor from between my fingers. People's capacity for self-deception is breathtaking. OK so you're homely, three stone overweight and can't hold a tune. Oh, and truth to tell, you're not that interested in music. Which of these things do you chose to ignore when you're in the privacy of your bedroom gazing at yourself in the full-length, fitted wardrobe mirror thinking about whether you should go along to the auditions infront of a live audience of 4,000 people and a national TV audience of squillions? One, two or 'all of the above', on the grounds of "What-the-hell-I-deserve-to-be-famous"? I think it was The X Factor anyway. There was something about "living the dream" and "I don't want to go home when I've come this far" and "there's absolutely nothing else I want to do" and "I just hope they'll see how much I want this." There's a chance it was the Labour Party Conference.

Either way, I've a lot of sympathy with Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole since my own experience of being a judge last week. I did a reading at the Women's Institute (Cheviot Group). This involved my husband taking the kids to swimming and then onto football since I was driving round in circles trying to find the right village hall. I did my performing monkey bit feeling slightly nervous - as Tony Blair can tell you the WI can be a tough crowd. I certainly didn't think it was the time to tell them how as a young journalist sent to cover a WI meeting, an enthusiastic lady had explained to me how much she'd learned about preservation and conservation. I thought she meant history. She meant jam. Anyway after they fed me tea and cream meringues, they called me up from one of the long trestle tables framing the auditorium to judge three competitions.
The first: a picture of Northumberland contest for which the ladies had ransacked their walls for the nicest view of the county. I chose sheep milling on the Cheviots.
The second: the decorated stone contest involving large pebbles upon which were delicately painted posies, a thatched cottage and a slightly spooky baby girl's head complete with knitted bonnet and dummy. I definitely chose the cottage. Or the posy. I quite regret not chosing the baby.
The last: the savoury flan. There were at least 70 ladies in the hall. How many flans had they mustered between them? Two. Talk about pressure. I looked at the flans. They looked back. I tasted them. I tasted them again. I chose one and left quickly. I've another WI meeting in January - I'm asking to be paid in cake.

42 comments:

Troutie said...

Would you rather join the W.I for life or enter the Xfactor? I'll take the old ladies and their flans any day of the week, even though I've been told that I can hold a tune....

Mimi said...

"I'm asking to be paid in cake" LOL at this, it's a very good idea!

Hope all's going well with book 2. Did you collect the award I left for you over at mine?
If not, here's the link- I didn't know how to post a link when I left the award comment last time.
http://mimi-mimis-world.blogspot.com/2009/09/awards.html

Rachel said...

Please don't write off the WI. I am 27 and a member of my local WI group.

I think it's a brilliant organisation and that we are lucky to have such a thing in the UK.

Would be great to hear what you spoke to the Cheviot branch of the WI about.

ladythinker said...

Nowadays many of us think of the W.I either as [a] a group of feisty ladies who're willing to slow hand clap the P.M or [b] Glam Calender models who 'Grin and Bare it'. I'm certainly not brave enough to join in with the second group!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

You mean you didn't take a jar of strawberry jam with you?

Maddie Grigg said...

My Mr Grigg is lobbying to be allowed into our village WI branch. He is much better at baking and preserving than me and would keep the ladies entertained for hours. So far, his attempts at getting in have been resisted.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

What a fab opportunity! Were they all very busty and wearing floral things? You can't deny that this book has sent you soaring to new heights.
Pigx

ChrisJ said...

I'd go anywhere and do (practically) anything for cream meringues!!

HER ON THE HILL said...

You may have to move (if Mrs Flan Failed is a bitter woman...)

billatbingley said...

Great to read of your adventures with the Cheviot WI, and even better to have joined you and the family for tea/coffee and cakes when we called!

Love to Gran and the children. Ruby sends a special "woof" to the boys for allowing her to play with thier football.

PS Many thanks for the autographed book too!

PPS How is the new book progressing?

Alison said...

So glad you are back posting again. Loved your book. We are considering (only considering, mind) moving to the Isle of Wight from Brighton and I keep thinking about you. It worked out all right in the end. though didn't it?

mutleythedog said...

I have posted you an invite for the WI of which I am a member... Wear rubber....

wife in the north said...

sorry I am having huge problems with my comments at the moment so nobody's are getting through. Am trying to fix it.

Anonymous said...

Where are you? We miss your blogs!

mutleythedog said...

Mine got through!!

Kate said...

Ha! I am aghast at x-factor too!! But still strangely addicted. Pleased to find your blog. I read your book while in hospital and very ill and it helped. I'm new to this blogging thing and now have a second strange and inexplicable addiction.

Jocelyn said...

If anyone on the perhaps-X FACTOR also noted, "I'm not here to make friends; I'm here to win," then it could be you were tuned into BIG BROTHER and maybe some of the housebounders were singing that night.

Myself, I've had gone slippery-fingered with the flans and dropped one to the ground, tragically. Hmmm, but then I might have had to give a pity vote to the flan I dropped. Nope. My strategy just mucks things up further. A straightforward vote was the way to go.

wifeinthebin said...

Dear wife in the north, think I may have already sent you this but cocked it upso here goes again. Thankyou so much for your first book and the blog. you write for all the lonely displacedwomen in the world whohave followed their husbands and not really known why!!! Have sent a copy to my sister who lives abroad and is awaiting the birth of her second child hoping it will help her as it has helped me. Even life in the south east can be lonely when you pine for home in the south west!

Lynda said...

L have just finished reading your book and still have not stopped laughing.thank you for writing it. My life has been very different but l have followed my huband all over the world and believe me there were many a time l worried about bears!!!! After quite a stressful day as a child and family therapist reading your book helped to end my day on a high note. lynda

MrShev said...

Re: Driving around in circles

I've discovered that I cannot find anything in the countryside. No house numbers, no road signs - just lots of houses called: the rafters, Greengage, Poppyseed Cottage - all that malarky. I end up carrying a GPS around with me and asking strangers if they know where I should be going...

Anyway, love the blog.

Heather said...

Hey, at least you didnt get slow clapped off stage...

zeebling said...

I've just discovered your blog - it's delicious! Thankyou for making me giggle!

Minnie said...

Thank you, Wifey, for cheering up a glum bat on an even glummer day. Love the way you swing so succinctly and elegantly from low culture to high, from vulnerability to mastery and from a gleeful side-swipe at the beastly Bliar to an anxious moment as a flan judge ... Laughed all the way through - mood much-improved as result; now ready to do battle with meringues!
PS Thank you for allowing us non-Blogger bloggers access to comments as requested (and eagerly awaited, no doubt!).

The bad army wife said...

Hi

I just recently bought your book from a charity shop,I had never heard of you or your blog before but I LOVED loved loved your book. It made me chuckle so much that I had to sneak it in to work and read it intermittently while skiving off from filing duties lol
anywho, I then decided to google wife in north and see if there was any other books due out and found your blogspot and here I am, you have even inspired me to start my own blog spot describing my life as a bad army wife lol :)
I love your blogs, keep up the laughter x

Pig in the Kitchen said...

where have you gone wifey? I keep checking in...
Pigx

wifeinthebin said...

where has wife in the north gone? Not seen alive since September!

Anonymous said...

Please post again Wifey

Anonymous said...

Aren't you ever going to post again Wifey?

EmmaK said...

Lucky you - I'd love to be paid in cake. Congrats about your book coming out in Germany. I speak German and am going to snap up a copy.

Sharon said...

have the bears got you? Long overdue return to civilisation is needed now!

Bea said...

Hi,
I#m german and I get your book as a christmas present. And I'm definitely a wife in the north as well. And can't wait till your second book is out.

Anonymous said...

where are you? you are my lifeline when it all seems too hard to handle any more, come back please!!

Anonymous said...

Hallo,
Danish woman just read your "Lykkelig på landet!", and I,ve been laughing and crying at the same time. Your book/blogs is/are great, also for a stranger, especially because we made the same move 1,5 years ago (from Copenhagen to the country side !). I think that you are a great person with the heart in the right place and the braveness to share your doubts and feelings with the rest of the world. You just gave me the courage to believe in this incredible project, to take one's life and move it x kilometers away for the sake of the children and the beloved boyfriend!
Happy new year to you and your family and friends!
Best regards,
Mona from Denmark

saksham said...

I keep want to start this comment with ‘good’ or ‘nice’ or ‘great’ but none of these seems strong enough, or appropriate enough for what you just posted.Just fantastic and mindblowing blog keep it up..!!!

Hilary said...

Hope you are ok in all the northern snow!

ladythinker said...

As Pig in the Kitchen said
Where are you ??

It's now January 12th 2010 and you must have been snowed in like the rest of us - so why no blog post?? Hope all is OK with you all up there in the cold cold North East.

mutleythedog said...

Ha - a flurry of comments! My fave is the Danish one. tee hee hee hee hee....

Mu Tai Dong said...

The first time married I before the asbestos accident moved maybe 7,500 miles for that to Beijing Shi. and then to die?

sophie said...

time for another post?

Lou said...

Just finished your book. A friend of mine gave it to me muttering about how she thought it would be particularly relevant.

You made me laugh (still giggling about the sheep between your legs bit) and cry. Been there.

Keep it up, I'll pop in and see you each day.

Lou xx

hausfrau said...

Just discovered you while I was idling away a morning avoiding the chores. Clearly need to go and buy your book but will enjoy your blog in the meantime. I did try the WI once, but I was, for once, too young!

elizabeth said...

really miss hearing from you! I hope that you and yours are all well - and are doing well! take care.