Jackie Weaver on Brexit, memes and why quiche is the ultimate death row meal

Jackie Weaver on Brexit, memes and why quiche is the ultimate death row meal

“What’s a meme?” is not a question you might expect the ultimate meme herself, Jackie Weaver, to ask you, but the parish council legend is utterly stumped when I ask which one is her favourite.

Perhaps she is too busy to engage in such frivolity. In the half an hour we speak (on Zoom of course), her phone rings twice and when we say our goodbyes she rushes off to her first post-lockdown haircut and another interview.

But if Weaver – who shot to fame after a Zoom argument went viral – is tiring of all her engagements, it doesn’t show, and she is animated when we talk about her new podcast, Jackie Weaver has the Authority, in which she and celebrity guests answer listen to submitted questions about a range of pressing issues including the proper pronunciation of scones.

With an array of co-hosts from Strictly Come Dancing’s Anton Du Beke to food critic Jay Rayner joining her, who has been her favourite celeb she has met thus far?

“I can’t say that, that would be too mean!” she says, aghast. This is Jackie Weaver in a nutshell. Utterly charming and incapable of even risking hurting a fly. She admits she is excited to meet Jack Whitehall and his father who will appear in an upcoming episode but is reluctant to entertain any ranking of famous faces.

The podcast world is not the only area that has opened to her since Weaver became a household name. She has been invited to appear on numerous shows such as The Circle and Celebrity Mastermind since rising to notoriety, but she is holding out for Tipping Point and Judge Judy.

“If Judge Judy wants a break, I’m there,” she says.

But while the glitz and glamour of television and podcasts may entice the most grounded to sway from their roots, local politics remains Weaver’s one true passion, which she says has more tangible impacts than the pontification that occurs in Westminster.

“For me the best opportunities are the ones where I do get the opportunity to talk to people specifically about local democracy. That’s the thing that I’ve spent a large part of my life doing,” she says.

“If you get involved in local democracy in your own area then you will see a difference and you’ll see it in your lifetime... let the rest of the world sort itself out!”

Indeed, local politics helped her through difficult times and she explains that making an online training programme for local councillors in Cheshire helped her get out of her initial lockdown funk – as did knitting socks.

“I found lockdown very hard to start off with. I like routine and I like the engagement with the others in the office and that was all gone and I think for the first couple of months I felt very much lost. I felt very isolated,” she says.

But a commitment to the local does not mean Weaver has no interest in national issues. She votes, but won’t reveal who for (because “you don’t get to bitch if you participate”), but generously reveals she supported Brexit during the 2016 referendum – though she believes the referendum should not have taken place at all.

“On the Brexit question I voted to leave but one of the issues for me around Brexit was I don’t think most of us - and I include myself - really understood the question.

“I still don’t understand the question. I really don’t understand the full implications of what Brexit means or to have stayed means,” she says.

“If there was the potential for another referendum I would lobby as hard as I possibly could for there not to be a referendum. The question is too big.”

But there are more important things to discuss with Weaver. Like? Who her favourite Gogglebox cast members are – Giles and Mary; her celebrity crush – Richard Gere, and who would play her in a film about her life – Helen Mirren.

And though one of her podcast guests is Rayner, she is “not much of a foodie at all” herself, and recently celebrated her 37th wedding anniversary to husband Stuart with fish and chips. But she doesn’t pause at all when revealing that her death row meal would be “quiche, beans and baked potato.”

She has stronger opinions about drinking – no alcohol with food as that has to be a separate occasion “with nibbles” and cocktails have to be Pina Coladas. Wine can be red or white but absolutely not Rose. “Make up your mind, are you having red or white?” she says.

Noted. I’ve certainly benefited from Weaver’s wisdom but has she anything to gain from mine? Is she any closer to understanding what a meme is?

“We have a Weaver motto?” she offers. “Things can only get worse!” she says and cackles infectiously.

We can’t see it going viral, but indeed they can.

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