Women, men, and meetings: Jackie Weaver’s advice about Zoom

If you’re British, you’ve heard of Jackie Weaver. If you’re not British but spend too much of your life on the internet, you’ve probably also heard of Jackie Weaver.

Weaver was drafted in from the Cheshire Association of Local Councils to host a Zoom meeting of the Handforth Parish Council’s planning and environment committee and act as clerk in the regular clerk’s absence. The council has a history of toxic procedural arguments, and the meeting was called by two committee members, not the chair. Should we speculate and guess that the chair wasn’t happy about that?

He told Weaver she had no authority. She threatened to remove him from the meeting and he said, “You can’t. It’s only the chair who can remove people from the meeting. You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver. No authority at all”

Zap. He disappeared. She’s removed him from the meeting. You can hear someone else saying, “She just kicked him out.”

“She kicked him out,” someone echoed.

I waited for a chorus line to come in, full of sequins and doing high kicks, singing, “She kicked him out,” but parish council budgets are tight, so no chorus line. No high kicks. Local government’s like that. You should see parish council meetings in my village. For a long time, they didn’t even have heat.

When two more members of the meeting shouted and blustered, she tossed them out as well, so they could get some work done. 

“This is a meeting called by two councilors,” Weaver says. “You may now elect a chair.”

One of the people who was still in the meeting proceeded to complain that the chair had been calling himself the clerk. 

“There is no way of stopping him from calling himself clerk,” Weaver said. “Please refer to me as Britney Spears from now on.”

Irrelevant photo: Red sky in the morning, be careful what you say in a Zoom meeting.

No one would have known any of this if a seventeen-year-old politics student, Shaan Ali, hadn’t watched it. He’s fascinated with local politics. All the power struggles. All the arguments. All the technological disasters. 

“You know, old men struggling to use Zoom, fun arguments–there’s always something fascinating going on.”

He tweeted it and it went mad. Weaver became an overnight sensation, interviewed on TV, written about almost a month late in obscure corners of the internet. What she did resonates with every woman who’s ever been bullied or patronized by a man, which is to say 116% of us. It may be on the very mildest edge of our collective revenge fantasies, but the thing is that it actually happened. That’s better than flying kicks, although I’d still like the chorus line.

It’s appealed to plenty of men as well, helped along, I expect, by the cartoonishly stuffed-shirt quality of the chair. He’d patronize anyone he wasn’t sucking up to. He couldn’t help himself. You can find a clip here.

Predictably enough, as soon as she became a hero, she started receiving online abuse, which the police are investigating, for whatever good that’ll do.

The council’s getting its own share of abuse. At the next meeting, members of the public joined the Zoom call and shouted lines from the more famous meeting, turning the thing into chaos. I’m sure I should disapprove, but I love the idea of a meeting being disrupted by random strangers shouting, “You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver.”

I’m sure it’s a character flaw. It’s one of my favorites.

But let’s leave Handforth on a more peaceful  note. An internet baker (who knew there was such a thing?) named Ben Cullen created a Jackie Weaver cake. Lockdown does strange things to people. I won’t say he flattered her exactly, but he says he’s had a great response. 

The last word, surely, has to go to Weaver. Someone asked if she had any advice for Zoom meetings. 

“Don’t wear pajamas,” she said. 


You’ve probably heard that the head of the Tokyo Olympics committee resigned after saying that women talked too much and made meetings too long. 

What you probably don’t know is that in 2019 Montreal city councilor Sue Montgomery started knitting in red when a man was speaking and in green when a woman spoke. The piece she produced is almost entirely red. And it’s a lousy piece of knitting.

I say that as someone who’s not very good at knitting either, but I can knit a straight scarf. Never mind. I never knit anything that made a point as neatly.

The council’s divided fairly evenly–31 women and 34 men, and it’s not, she said, that the women don’t speak, it’s that they tend to use their time more efficiently. “Some of the older men tend to go on and on,” she said. “Some of them can’t be bothered to gather and organize their thoughts before speaking.” 


Another Zoom meeting goes to hell in a handbasket

The entire board of a California elementary school resigned after thinking they were holding a private meeting when in fact they were being live-streamed. 

“Are we alone?” one of them asked.

Oh, yeah, absolutely, someone or other said. 

And they believed it and let loose. Parents just wanted the school to babysit their kids, they said. Parents wanted the kids out of the house so they could take drugs. Parents complained, the school board members complained. 

All while they were being live-streamed into the parents’ ear canals

Seven thousand people signed a petition calling on them to resign. 

You’re never alone. 


Art news from Italy

Italian police found a stolen painting–a 500-year-old copy of a Leonardo da Vinci–and returned it to the museum that didn’t know it had lost it. The museum had been shut for months. After all, in the middle of a pandemic who goes around counting frames to make sure all the paintings got back on the school bus at the end of the class trip? 

How did the police happen to find the painting? Haven’t a clue, but it was hidden in what a British paper called a bedroom cupboard. I think that’s what I’d call a closet, since I tend to keep my cupboards in the kitchen, where I keep my cups. But, as I often say, I’ll never really understand this country. As a general rule, the police aren’t running in and out of here making sure I haven’t hidden a 500-year-old painting behind the (empty) sugar bowl in the cupboard, so I’m going to guess the guy they arrested did something that called attention to himself. 

The Smithsonian didn’t mention the cupboard but, not to be outdone by a British paper, mentioned that in the picture Christ has corkscrew curls. They were still popular when Shirley Temple was making movies. If that doesn’t put you off them, I don’t know what will. 

30 thoughts on “Women, men, and meetings: Jackie Weaver’s advice about Zoom

  1. I have a cupboard in my bedroom. It’s a cupboard because it has shelves in it. We used to keep our toys in it when I was a child, so it’s called the toy cupboard. Now it’s full of books, not stolen works of art.

    I also have a few corkscrew curls. Not by choice, my hair just does it when it gets past a certain length, which it’s just done. Time to get the scissors out again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah–so that’s the definition of a cupboard! Thanks. I am now (very slightly) enlightened. But no stolen works of art in yours? What are your priorities, April?

      I don’t tend toward corkscrew curls, but one of the few useful preparations I’ve made during the pandemic was to get my hair cut pretty short last time I had a chance, so it’s not completely out of control yet. I also bought extra tea on the theory that we’d all be happier if we had a steady supply of caffeine, although I can’t say there’s been a shortage. At least it doesn’t go bad.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh I laughed so much at this! I particularlly like the red knitting for men talking! As an ex-teacher, I know those delicious conversations where you let rip about the “parents” …in my day they hadn’t yet invented zoom (5 years ago) but we did used to check on the tables in the staff room to see if the head had bugged them!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. At last I have found out how Jackie Weaver got on line in the first place – I bet that student is still having a laugh. So far my zoom experience is limited. I do a quiz with my daughter’s friends so they are tech savvy, though there is one person and her room that are always purple. At our camera club someone answered the phone and forgot/didn’t know how to mute, so we heard all her phone conversation. I ‘attended’ a talk by our local museum and when I first logged in was confronted by half a dozen grumpy and confused looking old people!

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the things the kid who put Jackie online loves about local government Zoom meetings is the grumpy and confused old people (actually, I think he said old men) wrestling with the technology. Being of an age where it all seems natural to him, he finds it funny–as I do when someone appears as a cat or a potato, but I set a higher bar for technological disasters than he does.

      A group of us in my village are setting up a community shop and we’ve had to hold a series of Zoom meetings. I hate seeing myself starting back and me and seem to spend an awful lot of meeting time thinking about my face. As in, Gee, I look like my father. How’d I get so old? Etc.

      Liked by 1 person

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    • I was curious about that story as well, but that’s all I found. What made the cops go barging in, opening cupboards and demanding to see the (almost) da Vinci’s? And I’d love to have eavesdropped on the moment when they returned the painting no one knew was missing.

      Liked by 2 people

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