• Jonathan Shayfer

SHAYFER'S FIRE: Women's Day

So today is International Women's Day in which the social, cultural, creative and political achievements of women are celebrated.

Some of the women I admire, past and present?

Aethelflaed was the daughter of Alfred the Great of Wessex. Married to the Lord of neighbouring Mercia she quickly won the hearts and loyalty of its proud people. Firm, resolute and determined to prove her new found allegiance, when her husband died she continued to lead this crucial kingdom against the invading Viking hordes. She became known as 'The Lady of Mercia', a tough call in Anglo-Saxon England in which women were expected to be subordinate.

Mary Seacole, a mixed race Jamaican Scottish woman, was the less famous nurse who made her own way to the Crimea and tended the military wounded in the 1850's. She was very 'hands on' and provided medical assistance, food and morale to many wounded British soldiers. A bright, pragmatic, caring entrepreneur whose reputation was overshadowed by the more aloof Florence Nightingale, she was largely forgotten for over a century but is now part of the primary school curriculum.

Michelle Obama never wanted her husband to enter politics but, accepting that he could be a vehicle for change, supported him in every way. US political life, especially as the first black First Lady, wasn't easy but she learned, adapted and along with Barrack, became one of the most user-friendly and humane White House couples. She handled the pretty appalling vitriol of the alt-right media with dignity and grace and earned the respect bestowed upon her.

Just a passing nod to Professor Alice Roberts, anatomist, biological anthropologist, TV presenter, historian and author. Always displaying great enthusiasm, humour and accessibility for the layman, she has become a part of the UK's love affair with its own past. I have to be honest; I have a bit of a crush. I attended a lecture she gave about the Celts. She looked stunning in a star burst black dress. When I went to the book signing, she thanked me for turning up in the mud and smiled at me. I thought she had bewitching eyes like a cat.

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