Good Women

13/06/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Women’ by Ms Paige Turner
So 100 years ago some women succeeded in getting the right to vote. It was four years before my mother was born. When I presented the prizes at the Gerrards Cross Shakespeare Writing Comp last month I found myself explaining cross dressing to a group of youngsters. What freedom Viola in ‘Twelfth Night’ and Rosalind in ‘As You Like It’ enjoyed when they became their male counterparts Cesario and Ganymede respectively! Not to mention Portia’s and Nerissa’s ‘male’ barristers in ‘The Merchant of Venice’. My daughter is a criminal barrister. What access did my mother have to that profession with her East End upbringing some ninety years ago?
I was reminded of my mother’s working life when I visited my sister’s home in Poitiers, Charante last week. My mother’s ‘meubles’ live in my sister’s home: hard working dining tables and chairs; serving spoons; soup ladles. They bear the hallmarks of a century of female family: the serving at tables; the sharing of words and food.
Which brings me neatly to my ‘Red Lipstick’ perf at Egham Women’s Institute in Surrey last night. I was ferried there by the lovely and careful driver Fiona Gibb. We were served with the warmest of welcomes and lemon drizzle cake. And the warmest of audiences on the warmest of evenings.
And finally today I have finished reading the Watford Area Arts Forum Writing Comp entries. The theme was 100 where I started. It’s been a month of celebrating the life of good women and I hadn’t any intention of doing that. But I have.

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