The W.I. – a Coming Out Story



I’ve been disappearing once a month on a Tuesday night for some time now. Tilly comes with me. We have a (big) glass of white wine.  Each. Back home by 10.15.


When asked where it is that I go, I reply ‘Just out with Till for a quick drink.’ When asked ‘Where exactly?’ I say, ‘Just to The Ardagh.’


The Ardagh is a Bowls Club. Its very name causes a few raised eyebrows and barely disguised smirks from the ill-disciplined ranks that make up my family. Thank goodness they haven’t asked me why I go there. That they presume I’m there to play bowls is a convenient smokescreen. That they actually believe that I’d be doing it in the freezing cold Winter’s night should be worrying for me as their mother, I suppose, but, for now, I can  only feel relief that they’re not more switched on.


And so imagine my surprise when I came home last night after a night of Bollywood dancing at the W.I. .

Hewey pops his head round the living room door and says – ‘No floodlights. ‘  Eureka! The bathwater cascades over the sides.


pataka – I put my hands out.

‘Too cold,’ chips in Dewey. Even more water pours out.

Kathputli”  I start to dance like a string puppet.


‘A lot of women up there as I drove past this evening.’ The water is overflowing and making its way to the closet. The closet that I am in.

GHOOMAR I go into a spin.


Then Donald himself declares, ‘Have you ever seen John’s wife there? She goes.’

BHANGRA I leap up and down. Knees bent. Body low.



Time to get out.

‘W.I.’ I say. No one looks at me.

‘W.I.’ I say again, more loudly this time.

‘Yes, the Women’s Institute.’ My voice takes on its own sarcastic lilt as it continues. ‘Yes, yes, yes. That’s right.  ‘Jam and Jerusalem’, ‘Calendar Girls’, cake stalls, frumpy old women…’

I get in first. With all the pre-conceived ideas that I can possibly dredge from the back-catalogue of … where exactly?

Then I realise. They’re from the back-catalogue of my very own personal list of W.I. prejudices.

Meanwhile Huey, Dewey, Louie and Donald just look at me.

‘John says his wife really loves it.’

I turn to the Nataraj,  symbol of triumph over ignorance, and I make the pose – upturned  hand, elegant fingers, bent knee and raised left leg.

Now I’m well and truly out.

I love the W.I.!



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