Yesterday I gave a talk to members of the Women's Institute in Cardiff. I was slightly nervous to be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect or how they would respond to a presentation about Eurovision. It turns out that my concerns were misplaced, what a hoot!
The WI is an interesting organisation and judging from the activities they have planned for the coming weeks, it's clear that there's a lot more to these ladies than just "Jam and Jerusalem". These women hold some serious political clout too and are regularly asked for their comments on the issues of the day. Whilst it might be argued that they represent a narrow, middle class view of the world, I think we underestimate people, in particular the older generation. I posted a photo of the group on my Facebook page and one of my friends (jokingly) commented that they would have been against the equal marriage bill which was being voted on that evening in the House of Lords. I'm sure many would have been. I'm also sure that may would not have. One thing is for sure, we are quick to judge.
A friend of mine has a grandmother who is 91, she's quite religious and traditional. You might think she might be borderline homophobic in her views. The reality couldn't be further from the truth. Without sounding patronising, some of the women in the audience last night had a wealth of life experiences, we'd do well to learn from some of them. I thought I'd be going into a room full of jam-making, tweed-wearing housewives. Instead I met a group of empowered, political and engaging women of varying ages.
I took the ladies for a trip down memory lane through songs from yesteryear interspersed with some of the more political anecdotes from Eurovision. If they weren't interested, they didn't show it. For years I have argued that Eurovision goes hand in hand with nation building. My experiences last night shows that Eurovision has also been a part of so many peoples formative years; "I remember Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson". When it comes to Eurovision some people love it, some hate it. Some love to hate it. It's the one event that practically everyone has an opinion on, which, nearly 60 years since the inaugural contest, is really powerful.