A Historian Looks Back at the Great U.K Women’s Strike of 2017
There was a strong smell of sweat and last nights takeaways on the train,
the “Today” programme sounded pretty much the same. Many birthday cards
were not sent, or addressed to the wrong name. Of course, the country managed;
70% of managers were men, except all the schools were shut, all the flights
were grounded and the hospitals open were on black alert.
Fewer lost keys were found, West End theatres went dark,
though most classical orchestras played on.
Kids stared at iPads in office block corridors and hung out in parks.
Bins were emptier, commodes were fuller. Care home residents stayed in bed,
there was a death spike. In nine months time there would be a birth rate dip,
a divorce peak and they’d have to recruit hundreds of new counsellors for Relate.
Fewer Doctors gave hugs, there was a rise in falls and elderly people
craved touch. Diet clubbers went unweighed, appointments unkept and unmade.
Nearly half of academic staff were off, but not quite 20% of professors.
On Brexit, Theresa May said nothing. Again.
Supermarket check out lines snaked out of stores, Babestation Live
screened reruns of Match of the Day, employers saved 20% less pay
than if men had struck. Hair looked bad, many wore hats.
Some men discovered vacuuming is relaxing, there was no waxing.
71% of MPs were working, though they made their own tea,
and couldn’t hear themselves for babies screaming on green leather.
90% of executive directors were men and met at conference tables
stained with coffee rings,where they spoke 100% of the time
(instead of the 75%, studies showed was the norm in mixed-gender meetings back then).
Few people taught yoga, dance or lifesaving. Nobody was born.
Nothing much happened with towels, bedding or curtain rings.
This commissioned poem was never fin-
Kate Fox is a writer and a performer. As a stand-up poet she has been in demand at literature festivals across the country. Her solo comedy shows have toured from the Edinburgh Fringe to the Southbank Centre and been broadcast on Radio 4. She is two years into a full time PhD at the University of Leeds, looking at class, gender, Northernness and solo stand-up performance.