It’s quite clear that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on just about every aspect of modern life as we gradually cope with new ways of living. Social distancing put severe constraints on the way in which people interacted and suddenly video conferencing became a vital staple of everyday life. The overnight phenomenon of the video chat service Zoom instantly became a lifeline for everyone wanting to maintain social and professional relationships and was used by all. When parish councillor Jackie Weaver was asked to chair a Zoom meeting of the Handforth Parish Council she had absolutely no idea what this new way of conversing would bring and more importantly could not have ever dreamed of what happened next.
Press play, below, to listen to the full interview
Or watch the unedited zoom call on YouTube here;
The story started when Jackie was asked to lead the Handforth Parish Council meeting as part of her role as chief officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils. Working in local government for the majority of her career, Jackie remains passionate about the preservation of communities and takes her responsibility within local government extremely seriously. Having heard about the colourful characters of Handforth Council, Jackie realised that she would have her work cut out when attempting to maintain control over highly passionate members. Yet she certainly never expected to be faced with the extraordinary behaviour which took place: the verbal aggression of Alan’s iPad, the technological issues of Jules’ iPad and the irate tones of Handforth PC Clark proved a shocking rude awakening for the loyal servant to the Cheshire community. This unsociable behaviour left Jackie aghast and it confirmed all of what she had previously heard about this dysfunctional committee.
Being an external representative for local government, luckily Jackie wasn’t forced to have regular contact with the eccentric members of the Handforth Parish. Yet witnessing this aggressive behaviour made her question the nature of the council and being a strong supporter of local government, this made her extremely disappointed. This wasn’t an issue with the new technology, instead it was merely the wrong combination of people who each had their own axe to grind. For Jackie, she believes that it wouldn’t have mattered if the specific meeting had taken place face to face it would have still served up the same results. Following the meeting, Jackie chose to attempt to forget about the chaos which had ensued and went about her regular business. But what happened next defied all logic and resulted in a very bizarre sequence of events…
Unbeknown to Jackie and members of the committee, the recording of the aforementioned Zoom council meeting was then published on the internet and discovered by a student of politics. At the beginning of November 2021, she received a text message from her son informing her that she was the number three trend on Twitter. Unfamiliar with the terminology of trending and followers, Jackie dismissed it and went about her normal day until she discovered a barrage of photographers and journalists at the end of her road. Surmising that a major accident had taken place nearby, Jackie naively answered the door to offer her assistance with a suspected enquiry. It was at this point that she realised that she had unknowingly become an international viral sensation and the members of the Handforth Parish Council were now household names.
As a very grounded individual, Jackie found this fascination with the video absolutely absurd and is the first to admit that her fame is merely the byproduct of the extraordinary times that we’re currently living through. Still managing to honour her commitments to local government, she is currently attempting to balance her fame with her day job which has thrown up some bizarre moments. Since becoming a viral sensation, Jackie has been inundated with requests for public speaking, product endorsements and private appearances which have all completely taken her by surprise. When you’re being asked to dress as a stormtrooper in the morning before leading a local government seminar, life begins to feel extremely surreal. Yet for the moment Jackie continues to embrace what she believes is her fifteen minutes of fame.
Soon to be taking the stage at The Bedford in Balham alongside comedians Isy Suttie, Paul Sinha and Suzi Ruffell for THE COMEDIANS’ COUNCIL, it seems that Jackie’s fifteen minutes of fame may be slightly prolonged much to her general bewilderment. Despite her many engagements, she has also found the time to write the self help book You Do Have Authority Here where she divulges her own tips for how to get your thoughts across. It’s clear that there’s still a lot happening in the creative mind of Jackie Weaver and despite not having the authority, she has made an indelible mark on contemporary British culture. It was a great pleasure to interview the infamous Jackie Weaver and I can’t wait to see how this story continues.