Last night was possibly another major boundary crossed because… yes, folks!… last night i crossed the threshold of the Deeping St James Women’s Institute for the first time ever.
Not only, but i really rather enjoyed myself. The centre point of the evening was a performance by a local ukelele band (group? mini-orchestra?) to which the entire assembly (best part of 50 women) sang alone.
It was a pretty daunting set of ladies: intensely irritating, to a certain sort of bloke; yet at the same time very quietly powerful.
The irritation, i suspect, would follow the way in which there was not quite the respect for order and hierarchy that a comparable male gathering might accrue. The Chair spoke, explaining the business of the night: and whilst she was mostly heard in respectful silence, there were cross-currents. I use that term deliberately.
Women reacted to what she said. They nodded approvingly. There were approving remarks. But unlike a male audience, where a statement from the head honcho might be followed by reaction TO the head honcho (anything from applause to heckling), last night the reaction seemed to spread sideways thru the audience.
So any bloke looking to be the focal point of attention would have been sadly disappointed. Those present took notice, whilst simultaneously ignoring.
Yet for all that, the group appeared quite magnificently organised. A stream of announcements were delivered and i, wearing my accountant head, could not help but admire the simple, efficient, disorganised way in which an iron-clad organisation was gently eased into place.
What i am trying to say, i think, is that i was thoroughly impressed by the amiable way in which a pretty wide range of matters were raised, dealt with and passed over.
Then on to the singing. Very, very reminiscent of sunday night on radio two – which in turn made me realise that a lot of those singalong programmes are possibly more supported by women than men. There is a distinctive quite tuneful sound to women singing together, with little benefit of added bass.
I was slightly amused by the song book the band had brought with them. After a few songs i found myself wondering: how come so many women are singing so many songs all written from a male perspective. A quick flick thru the books revealed i was correct. Out of the best part of 50 songs, about 80% were purely male perspective (a bloke declaring love/passion for a girl. About half a dozen were gender neutral in content (but still written by guys).
And there were two or three, at most, from the other perspective.
How strange. Is that because the ukelele band were picking songs in that way? Is it an inherent bias in music? Or music of a particular era (most songs were from the 60’s or earlier)?
Dunno. Just one of those things that once noticed is not easily unnoticed. I loved the singalong aspect – but then, i quite enjoy hymns in church. At least, SOME hymns.
So all in all, a jolly good evening. My only objection, perhaps, to a return visit, is that andrea instantly started treating me like a “woman of a certain age”. Huh! I was neither youngest nor oldest present by far.
Pretty much in the middle, in fact.