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Idle women's stories will float your boat

Idle Women, Greyhound, Hawkesbury Junction, Coventry, July 5 &6.

“The most interesting, original and enviable year I ever spent in my life,” wrote Susan

Woolfitt, one of the sources for Alarum Theatre’s touring production of Idle Women.

Touring by narrowboat, that is, which is about right, as Susan’s year was 1944 and

she spent it working narrowboats between London, Birmingham and Coventry

carrying coal, cement, peanuts, aluminium, copper, beans, steel, flour, anything

heavy - 50 tons of it per trip.

Alarum – Kate Saffin and Heather Wastie, both boaters themselves – have devised an entertainment to celebrate these scarcely remembered women’s contribution to the war effort, drawn with affection from their writings and memories.

Kate is Isobel, a middle-class woman who in her year of adventure learns much from the so-different boating families in whose midst she and her fellow Idle Women have landed. The boaters may not be able to read and write but they have other forms of deep literacy. Heather’s poems and songs tell movingly of life on ‘the cut’ and we even get to join in with her song about the Idle Women striking about which route they should take from Birmingham to Coventry!

Why were they called Idle Women? You’ll just have to go and see this engaging show to find out. On Monday, July 10, they take the show to the Barley Mow, Newbold, near Rugby (7,30)

More, including dates and venues, here

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