What a sentiment to bring home from a memorable day at The Royal Albert Hall at the WI Annual Meeting. Sunny as always - this event is held during the first week of June and my memories of earlier AGMs are all of warm sunny Summer days. This was no exception.
We'd travelled up from Gloucestershire yesterday, spent the night in an hotel on Bayswater Road and walked across Kensington Gardens, enjoying the spectacle of the Albert Memorial looking fine in the sunshine. A bunch of us went out last evening, first to dinner, then to a performance of The Jersey Boys which was fun, so the walk was a welcome breath of air.
Sad to say, my photo isn't as sharp as I'd have liked - the one on my photo of the day is better - but hopefully it's clear to see what an astounding sight such a meeting is. Singing Jerusalem together with 5000 women, accompanied by the Albert Hall organ is a spine-tingling moment and one which stays in the memory long afterwards.
We listened with interest to some inspiring speakers, voted overwhelmingly in favour of our resolution in support of honey bees and laughed at Maureen Lipman's jokes. Such a clever speaker, she had us giggling one minute and quietly contemplative the next, as she championed the cause of Aung San Suu Kyi with real passion. Clearly focusing her presentation squarely on the 99.9% female audience, her shared thoughts on such topics as the joys of BBC Radio 4 and the dearth of similarly intelligent content on TV were all received with mutters of approval. At times, she sailed close to the wind with one or two fairly political comments about tomorrow's elections (an absolute no-no at these meetings - remember this?) but with the audience firmly onside, she survived.
At lunchtime, what else but cross the road and sit, with another few thousand friends, on the steps of the Albert Memorial?
The afternoon session was good - Jonathan Wild of Taylors, provider of so many pots of Yorkshire Tea at WI meetings throughout the country (Gloucestershire included!) gave a most entertaining presentation (image this website as a talk and you're nearly there) and Eve Pollard spoke well; if only she'd remembered that she was there as herself and not as leader of Claudia Winkelmann's fan club (which goes without saying)
But, saving the best bit till last, the meeting ended on a real high, with a performance from Richard Stilgoe and apprentices from the Orpheus Centre . Just as earlier in the day, our emotions were given a workout as we laughed one minute, fell silent the next as we listened intently to the marvellous performance put on by four talented youngsters. Yes, the second bloke in is wearing a blonde wig and orange dress - singing a song about a cross dresser called Melvyn, he just about brought the house down. The meeting finished with the audience joining in the chorus of "I believe I can really make a difference" and looking around the vast auditorium, every person I could see was joining in with the actions too. Wow.