20 June 2018 Word from the Equalitea Party Event – Saturday 30 June 2018
It’s an unseasonably hot summer”s day for England. But this homespun, Equalitea Party, kicked off in the blaring sun at 2.30pm, marquees at the ready.
I joined one of the many Equaliteas events held around the country, 18 June – 22 July, to honour the heroines and heroes of the suffragette and suffragist movements – who fought for equality and Women’s Right to Vote. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the suffragette movement, and the 90th year of the passing of the People Act 1928 which gave women (30 and over – yep there was still work to do but what a ground-breaker), and particular groups of disenfranchised men 21 and over, equal right to vote.
It’s unlike me not to capture fascinating facts like the storyboard of a local Croydon suffragette. But I was remiss, no pictures of that or the delectable home-made food, laid out on a table the length of the hall – wheat-free, vegetarian sausages rolls (yeah I know) and a variety of cakes and cut sandwiches and tea of course. Soooooo Tea Party soooooo delightful. Ah, and an incredible Victoria Sponge bulging with layers of fresh cream and strawberries that captured my immediate attention, and powdered my top lip with icing sugar. I walked round like that for the rest of the day, yep. Not a word from anyone, English sensibilities eh? I did wonder whether it was misconstrued as something else! ?
As ever, I made last minute wardrobe decisions and with a suffragette theme beckoning I had to think, fast. Apparently there were various colour schemes for different suffragette movements. A seemingly well-known one is the purple and green. A quick trip to John Lewis for ribbon that I tied around my neck on the day and et voila, that shit was sorted.
So there were many speeches, by local politicians and a Mayor, you can imagine. And more on a local suffragette from Croydon, along with a valuable social project supporting disadvantaged women – I vowed to remember the name and promptly forgot. I will find out more [watch this space].
Fortunately, Alison O’Melia, a lovely and talented, local musician playing accordian on the day joined, on one of my songs. And we got together the week before to learn a few tunes from the period like Rise up Women, Shoulder to Shoulder and Forward Sister Women. Alison did all the research on that I have to say. The songs are a combination of suffragette inspired lyrics, highlighting the cause, that were sung to well-known tunes of that period. It’s an effective way of making it easy for anyone to get on board and join in for a sing-a-long. It’s easy when you know the tune. So we tried. Out came the lyrics sheets which I handed around wondering if anyone would join in… and yes they did and, by the end, loved it.
[Thanks to Alison O’Melia and Leila Ben-Hassel for pictures. Along with Christina and the Croydon North Labour group – who invited me to perform – credit for putting on a lovely and delicious event]