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It’s all about the conversations

The journey continues. This last week we’ve done several shows in Milton Keynes: at Lionhearts we met the owner of Ash, the partner of Willow, in one of Heather’s songs and in the tiny village of Woolstone we estimated that nearly everyone who could come to a matinee was there! Then it was on to Stoke Bruerne where we performed at the Northants IWA annually rally – we split the show into two to provide a shorter show for each day. Heather performed Idle Women and Judies in torrential rain on Saturday and Kate did Isobel’s War in glorious sunshine on Sunday. We also joined in other events over the weekend with Tench winning ‘best turned out’ boat and the Idle Women quiz team coming nearly last in the quiz (only saved by the picture round because we’d been to most of the places!).

Although we are thoroughly enjoying performing ‘Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways’, this project isn’t simply about the two of us doing a show for an audience, it’s about sharing the stories of the trainees so the conversations on the towpath and at the locks are all part of the journey. Asking most passers-by ‘have you ever heard of the Idle Women’ usually elicits an ‘er, no’ and we are all getting very good at sharing the outline of the story in a few words. ‘Ah, like the land girls’ they say and everyone we’ve met has been interested to take a flyer with most saying they’ll have a look at the website to learn more.

At one of the locks in Berkhamstead a 15yr old girl paused, politely but reluctantly, when I asked The Question, said ‘No’ but, as soon as I’d told her the story and said it would be a great history project should she ever need one about women at work during the war said ‘Cool!’. She left saying that’s really cool!’ and that her mum would be interested too…

An eight year old girl in Stoke Bruerne is ‘doing’ the second world war at school – so another of our flyers with an outline of the story has gone off to a Northamptonshire primary school this week.

At the other end of the age range (and we have talking to everyone in between) we met a 91 yr old man who has lived in Simpson, now an area of Milton Keynes but a village in his childhood, who remembers watching the trainees come through. So, not only are we taking the stories to the places they happened but we’re getting more connected to them through the stories we are hearing.

Unfortunately we are also having some problems with adding photos to the blog at the moment; seems we might need an update from our present position in 1942. Hopefully we can sort it out and be adding more soon. In the meantime our Facebook page and twitter feed has plenty to browse.


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