Published: 1st February 2017

FU4Q7142bA few months ago Canny Craic had a tour of schools, community groups and libraries with The Wild Lassie, a project about Suffrage and Suffragettes, in particular the wild lassie herself Emily Wilding Davison.  The sessions consisted of three short scenes with a question and answer session between each.  We felt it went extremely well and the feedback was all positive. During one of the sessions at Cleadon Park Library I was invited to talk to a group about Suffragettes in February.

Easy I thought since I had researched the subject for over a year and I know quite a lot of information about the leaders, the characters and the politics.  That is where the problems began, I have so much information, so many anecdotes, so many characters to choose from – what to use and what to leave out?

Not to worry I had plenty of time to prepare, so I wrote the talk. I decided to write the whole thing out and then I can use bullet points on the day to remind me of what I was going to say.  Unfortunately it would take around an hour and a half to talk about all of the people and activities, so I started the first edit.  I cut it back to what I thought was the most interesting parts.

As usual when I write this type of work I read it aloud to myself and time it.  I almost fell asleep myself, Oh Dear it was dry and boring.  Too many facts, not enough colour.

Plan B, I scrapped the first draft and started again.  This time I wanted to add a bit more humour and personal observation.  Better.  It came together more naturally but I had to leave out quite a lot of people I really admire but really added nothing to the narrative of the Suffrage movement.  I have left in some of the people, who, born long before suffrage, were of interest in wanting equal rights for women and had entertaining stories to tell.

So far so good.

I’ve also looked at how we would deal with this issue today: who would be involved; who might oppose women’s right to vote. It’s been a bit more involved and difficult than I first thought, reducing such a huge issue to 45 minutes while bringing in some humour and lighter moments was a challenge, but it has made me consider all of the issues again.  It has made me consider how lucky I am to have been a woman in the 20th and 21st century.  It has also renewed my admiration for my wonderful, courageous, at times nutty predecessors who gave me freedom of speech; the liberty to vote; the ability to follow any profession and be equal to my husband and sons.

So thank you ladies of the Cleadon Park Thursday Group for inviting me.  I hope you enjoy the talk as much as I have writing and preparing it.

For everyone else.  I will let you know how it goes in my next blog.

Val McGregor