Über…grateful

There were a lot of words that sprung to mind when I heard about über, the new on demand taxi app. The news was full of uber stories when I was back in the UK in May. London’s black cabbies were up in arms at these poor imitations stealing business away. I empathised. I truly believe London cabbies are the best in the world.

OK so that’s hardly a tried and tested theory but I’ve never had a poor black cabbie experience. They are friendly, often cheeky, fun and know exactly where they are going. Stark contrast to Aussie cabbies who in my experience are the worst. I’ve directed one driver from Sydney Airport to Pitt Street. Pitt St for Pete’s sake!!

More often than not I have to provide drivers directions in Melbourne often resorting to my phone’s GPS when theirs doesn’t work. Aussie cabbies don’t talk – or rather they do just not to you. They are more likely to spend the entire trip glued to their phones, like dropping me off is an interruption to their important conversation.

So when I heard uber had come to Melbourne I wanted to support it. I wanted someone to grab the taxi industry by the short & curlies and give it a good shake. And so I downloaded the app.

It sat there vacant in its virginity unused as I summoned up the guts to give it a go. A friend of a friend gave it a go and loved it.

“You rate them and they rate you after the journey, so it keeps them accountable – and us.”

But I couldn’t quite shake the feeling it was a one way ticket to murdersville via rapetown. A psychopath wouldn’t give a shit about some mutual rating system given such an accessible avenue to potential victims. And so the app remained unused.

That was until Cup Day following a delightful lunch with WROS and Most Adorable Couple. MAC were uber veterans and broke me in gently by dropping me home. The driver was polite, the car immaculate, not smelly in any way AND we got free water.

I think the free water after 4-5 glasses of wine on a 30* day swung it for me. But the driver’s willingness to answer my gazillion questions without getting offended – despite me all but calling him a potential psycho – also went some way to appeasing me.

And so last Thursday I took the plunge and popped my uber cherry and booked a cab to the airport. Granted it was 10.30pm and so not in rush hour. He arrived in 2 mins, carried my bags from the gate, gave me water and asked for my fight details. He offered to avoid tolls for a cheaper fare. He kept me updated on an ETA. I was blown away. It was the best taxi experience I’d ever had in Melbourne.

But the best was to come. $60 including tolls and airport fees from St Kilda to Tullamarine! That’s at least $15 cheaper than your bog standard yellow smelly cab and $20-30 less than silver service. Yet it was better than silver service. He got 5*.

And so the only word that comes to mind now with uber is “grateful”. Grateful that there’s now a viable alternative to smelly yellow cabs.

Uber you just made my world a little brighter. Thank you for coming to Melbourne – but go easy on those London cabbies.

Famous footballers and horses

Last night I slept solidly for nearly 9 hours. Making up for only 3 the night before. It was that horrid heavy sleep where you wake up all groggy, with a headache and not even a shower or an extra cut of ginger in the morning juice can snap you out of the fog.

It took me a while to remember the dream. I was on another journey – I like my journeys – and think I was carrying a lot of stuff. I had a guide, a friend. Not one that i know in real life. I got the impression he was a religious type figure. We travelled down a wide road and there was lots of distractions and obstacles. There was differently horses and water rushing past. I think I was riding a horse although I’ve never done this in real life, it was pretty easy.

My guide friend took me to a building that was like a swazy 5* stables. I could sit down on bean bags, eat, rest and meet his friends. They were footballers. Foreign famous footballers I think I was supposed to be impressed. I didn’t understand their language so we just did the smiling, nodding awkward thing you do when you’re trying to be friendly. I was definitely meant to be in awe of them but I wasn’t and wanted to leave but couldn’t until my guide was ready to leave. I’d also been given tasks to complete before leaving. I think that’s when I woke up.

interpretation time

To dream that you are going on a journey signifies profits, self-discovery or progress. The scenery you see in your journey and the method of travel is telling of your feelings and circumstances you may be currently experiencing.

To dream that your friends go on a journey signifies a welcoming and harmonious change.

So the journey seems to be good thing. I felt like I was travelling in a procession so definitely a feeling of been on show but in a prestigious position. Certainly not feeling particularly prestigious in many aspects of my life right now but there’s definitely lots of change and I’m welcoming that change.

To see a horse in your dream symbolizes strength, power, endurance, virility and sexual prowess. It also represents a strong, physical energy. You need to tame the wild forces within. The dream may also be a pun that you are “horsing around”.

Teehee

To dream that you are riding a horse suggests that you are in a high position or position of power.

All hail Northern Lass the great and powerful 👸

To see an elephant in your dream indicates that you need to be more patient or more understanding of others.

Patience is not a particular strength for me at the best of times. Now it’s non existent. There’s definitely truth in this bit.

To see water in your dream symbolizes your subconscious and your emotional state of mind.

Water rushing around going nowhere fast – yep that’s my emotional state.

But what about these famous footballers?
The DreamMoods app has failed me. Nothing for footballers, famous or even sportsmen. What can it mean???

To hear or speak a foreign language in your dream indicates a message from your subconscious that you do not yet understand. Alternatively, you may not be making yourself clear to others.

I spend my life repeating myself, ever since I left Northern town at the age of 18 I’ve struggled to make myself understood.

Any ideas on the famous footballer thing?

A truly bonkers day

It’s like the world has gone mad or playing a prank, I sit waiting for everyone to turn around and yell ‘gotcha!’ But they don’t. Today blew my brain on how ridiculous the world is at the moment.

1) cycling to work this morning I saw a woman walking her rabbit on a lead in Albert Park. It wasn’t going anywhere just happy munching away in grass. Yet she was tugging away trying to get it to move. This wasn’t the strange thing though. The strange thing is I’ve seen her out ‘walking’ her rabbit before. You’d think she’d learnt by now…😳

2) also in Albert Park, a policeman looking through binoculars at the tree bark less than a foot away from him. On his phone excitedly telling someone he could see it. Im still wondering what ‘it’ is.😯

3) Poor lost disorientated Japanese tourist stranded on a roundabout confused at how to get across the road. He was shouting at the cars. Flapping his arms. I think he was trying to fly. Bless him. 😥

4) My boss tells me that she’s not been able to get authorisation for a contractor to help me, apologises profusely saying she knows how busy and stressed I am at the moment. Thing is I never asked her for a contractor.😕

5) Not less than 5 mins later she sends me another project to deliver this week despite me working 12 hour days, despite her apologies and when I push back saying I don’t have capacity she demands to know what’s on my list and what can be bumped for her project. Err nothing Lady. Did the last 15 mins just not happen for you?😤😤😤😤😤😤😤😤😤😤😤

6) Walking into my next meeting where I’m told the secret squirrel project I’m working on has been pushed back until another secret squirrel project can get its act together. The owner of this 2nd secret squirrel project is a numpty and so all I see if hours of my hard work disappear down a drain along with so many missed opportunities. Not only this but I’m expected to help numpty too. 😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡

7) A very senior clinician rings me up to talk about the new products I’ve developed. He’s angry, but he was consulted and approved everything 4 months ago. No the products fine what he’s really really angry about is the promotional flyer is only left justified and he’d prefer if right justified also please. Mate, do one!😫😫😫😫

8) I ring IT to sort out a website issue, I’m told the a quote for ‘exploration work’ will be emailed to me by the end of the week and until the quote is authorised the matter can’t be investigated. I end up teasing the poor guy by asking how can he quote on the time it will take to sort out a problem without actually solving the problem. Couldn’t he just give me a quote to solve the problem. There was silence at the end of the phone but I swear I heard a ‘computer says no’. 😩😩

9) When I kindly explained to IT bod that unfortunately the whole website needed to be launched by the end of the week not just a quote for an investigation to see how a tiny element can be resolved, and could he perhaps expedite the process by just solving the f’ing problem in the next hour. I’m told this wouldn’t be possible. I ask if it’s a resource issue and if I need to escalate up the chain of command. He shamefully giggles and says ‘sort of, you see we’re in the middle of a table tennis competition so we won’t be able to look at this til tomorrow.

Mind blown. 😡😡😡😡😡

10) And finally, and my all time favourite, one of my doctor rings to tell me about a fab marketing idea I should do. Cycle around Adelaide wearing a sandwich board with our logo on it. Wow. Genius. I can’t imagine why this hasn’t been done before now. I’m sure a couple of laps around Adelaide CBD would more that make for this month’s 10% shortfall in retail revenue. 😖😖😖😖

The stuff dreams are made of

My dreams are often a source of great amusement to me. Recently they’ve taken a whole new level of absurdity and being the über geek I am, I’m going to start recording and trying to interpret them. Feel free to join in.

(By the way this is in the absence of anything remotely gossipy to report. My life consists of eat, work, sleep, repeat and I’m denying myself the joy of eating 2 days a week).

So here’s what I remember from last night’s dream.

I was driving around back streets with a car packed full of stuff. I was driving to London Buddy #1 but her place was a terraced house. My Dad was inside and I think I was exasperated by him being there. He was off on a journey with a map and didn’t know where to go. I kept giving him directions but didn’t leave. I was trying to get rid of him cos London Buddy was sick upstairs and I needed to take her some soup (or at least it was a container of hit stuff.

As I climbed the stairs it became a woodland trail lined by gnarly trees. I had to climb up a hill without disturbing my neighbours who I think were vampires and lived in the roots of the trees. They discovered me creeping past and invited me in. It was a huge family with lots of kids who wanted me to play. I wasn’t sure but joined in and then my alarm woke me up.

interpretation

So what do we think of that?!

According to my Dream Moods app (surely a proven source of scientific theory):
To dream you are driving a vehicle signifies your life’s journey and your path in life. To see a house in your dream represents your own soul and self. The attic (where London Buddy was in bed) represents your intellect.

Ooo does this mean my intellect is sick or more likely my subconscious reminding me I’ve been neglecting my bestie and need to make the effort.

To see your father symbolises authority and protection. Hmm should I be reading into the fact I was trying to send these away. It could represent my work in that I’m constantly shooing my boss away from my projects.

To see lush green trees in your dream symbolises new hopes, desires, knowledge and life. (Covering all bases then). It also implies strength, protection and stability. I have a sneaky suspicion what this is but not ready to divulge to the masses just yet.

To see a vampire represents seduction and sensuality as well as fear and death. (Yikes!) it may depict someone in your waking life whose charm may ultimately prove harmful. Deep down inside you know this person is bad for you yet you are still drawn to him or her.

This actually rings a few bells about how I was feeling in the dream but can’t remember the details. I know I felt like I shouldn’t be there in their ‘among the roots hideaway’. Or maybe I just watched The Vampire Diaries a little too close to bedtime.

The date with the dullest man in the world

I know, I’m sorry. I took a leave of absence without your permission, how very rude. The truth is, I’ve simultaneously had so much on that’s not newsworthy, I haven’t summoned the energy to sit down and blog about it.

But a few of you have been sweet enough (or demanding -take your pick) to say you’ve missed my woe-some tales, dating disasters and self-deprecation. Erm, thanks…I think that’s called Schadenfreude.

Anyway, I haven’t been completely living under a rock these last few months, I’ve been rather busy, flitting around the world and Australia. Learning lots of psychology type stuff, bored/frustrated with my day job and so I’ve managed to squeeze in the odd date for good measure.

The dullest man in the world crossed my path before I went to Thailand. He was rather insistent on a date but I put him off til after Thailand because, well there wasn’t enough hours in my day, plus I was taking a cue from the New Girl at work. New Girl, is the girl I’d like to be when I grow up. A complete lefty and such a brain box I lap up everything she says, it’s actually embarrassing. But she’s just sooooooooo clever and done pretty much everything there is to do in the world like, win a writer’s prize with your unpublished manuscript, work for the UN, complete a PhD and make the world a better place with her job. She’s amazing. But like me she’d not found a suitable man or started a family. She’d introduced me to he concept of interviewing potential dates and because I lap up everything she says, I lapped it up.

She’d nip out for 30 mins for coffees with maybe 2-3 guys a week. Zero effort, no personal investment, treat it like an interview then at the end of the week decide if any are worth a first date. I like it. So I put it into practice with IT dude.

The day after landing back in Australia, he text suggesting a drink after work. I wanted to go to the gym as the pad Thai had taken its toll so I suggested a quick drink between work and my gym class. He graciously accepted my 1 hour time slot and with the interview mindset I went along with no expectations. Which was good because he turned out to be the dullest man in the world. And really quite a bit of an ejit. Here are some of his pearls:

“So tell me what you do in marketing because you don’t produce ads because you get agencies to do that? Marketing has always seemed a bit pointless to me.”

“Why did you go to Thailand? It’s not my kind of place. I don’t like hot places, especially humid places.”

“I’ve been to England, for a couple of days. It’s pretty much how it looks on TV”

“Why would you want to live in an old house? Because of the character? I prefer my square apartment on Southbank with straight walls and temperature control.”

“And why would you want a garden? Is it because you like dogs? I’m allergic to dogs. There’s no need to have a garden. I don’t understand people desire to grow stuff in gardens, it’s just mess and it dies anyway.”

Oh is that the time, sorry I must rush, I’ve a spin class to get to…

…he did not get invited to second round interviews.

Drinking with the Gen Ys

So tonight I find myself skulking home after 1am. Something I’ve not done in a long time but unfortunately or fortunately something I thought I’d moved on from.

The sway of old work colleagues, $30 3 course meal at a hatted restaurant and a good gossip, prised me out of my Friday routine of cider, sofa, takeaway, to the land of the free and single.

The meal was fabulous as was the $250 of alcohol we managed to squeeze in between courses. Conversation swiftly moved from small talk catch ups to the nitty gritty gossip normally reserved for dark corners. Mainly because the man at the adjacent table dining with 2 kids was keenly making conversation with our table. Ignoring his kids, wanting to play with the grown up girls, he chatted with us at whatever intervals seemed appropriate; what main to recommend, what dessert was best etc. It was of particular excitement because the man was cute, not wearing a wedding ring and clearly used to dining in hatted restaurants – even with the kids – and paying Chatterbox lots of attention. Now Chatterbox has recently fallen out of a 12 year relationship, assert her newly single status by buying herself the cutest bachelorette pad I’ve ever seen, falling rebound-esque for her best mate who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is on borrowed time. So it’s fair to say she’s had a fairly shit year and we were firmly on ‘Team Chatterbox’ watching the flirting unfold beside us.

At the end of his meal he lingered a little too long when saying goodbye to us and wished us a good night. As soon as he left, one of the Bright Young Things ordered Chatterbox to run after him and give him her number.

“You can’t do that! That’s so….forceful.” I struggled to find a suitable alternative word for “desperate”. I’d only met this particular Bright Young Thing a couple of times but it was clear she took no prisoners when it came to getting what she wanted. She was also very vocal about what she wanted, type A personality and a central cog in this particular social circle. I’d need my wits about me if I was to disagree with her methods.

“If I fancied him, I’d so be out there right now, telling to come back once he’d out the kids to bed!”

“But that might scare him off.”

“Then he needs to grow a pair and deal with it.”

Oh OK then. I’m not sure this approach would do feminism any favours but it was apparent the Gen Y women were not ones to be repressed.

Chatterbox looked embarrassed that despite 43 years on this planet she didn’t have “the balls” to run after the guy. I whispered that I wouldn’t have the balls either and that if he liked her then he’d find a way to follow up. Or if it was meant to be, then she’d bump into him at the supermarket or walking along the beach.

Overhearing our whispers, Bright Young Thing hailed the waitress and asked her to check if the guy had made a reservation and therefore left a phone number. Clever. Breaking data privacy laws but clever nonetheless. The waitress, clearly bored of the Friday night routine, duly checked and relayed the news that he was a walk in and had no details.

“You should have run after him. You’ve missed your chance.” BYT scorned.

Minutes later we see the guy walked past the door and make a definite look I our direction, spoke to the waiter and then disappear again. As he emerged onto the street, he threw one more look in our direction, which instigated more squeals from our table.

“Run after him!”

“This is your last chance!”

“He might be the one and you’re letting him go”

My heart went out to poor Chatterbox. I was shrinking under the table for her. But then I’m not as sharp as her.

“Well I’m not looking for the one, I’m looking for a shag, for now. And I don’t think I should be hollering that down Fitzroy St.”

Brilliant.

“Plus if he liked me, he had the opportunity to give me his number.”

Minutes later the waiter at the door also joined us.

“The man from the table next you, asked me to pass on this on to you.” He tossed a scrap of paper into the middle of the table which had a mobile number scrawled onto it.

Cue more screams: OMG! This NEVER happens. He made the effort and left his number.

“Chatterbox, you have to send him a text!” I was fully on board. The guy had put himself out there in front all us pissed gaggling girls. Bravo! Faith in men restored.

“Who exactly was the number for?” Bright Young Thing taking control again.

“I dunno he just said the girl at the table next to him.”

“But there’s 6 of us!” This is when we needed the waitress to have taken the message, she’d have got it sorted.

“We’ll send him a photo of us all and get him to pick”

Again, smart and something told me this wasn’t the first time it had happened to these girls. And yet here I was at 37 year, on virgin territory. And so, the picture was sent and the text pinged it’s way back to us almost immediately….

Who was he interested in…..Bright Young Thing.

So maybe in pays to be pushy after all or maybe he just had bad taste….

Here’s a tip

When you go away on business for 3 days, get food poisoning on day 1 resulting in, what can only be described as volcanic eruptions from both ends, resulting in only 2 hours sleep before a full day event, only for the nausea to give way to chronic PMS, the likes of which you’ve not experienced since your teenage years, and because you’re a professional, grimace through it, smiling at strangers and making banal small talk when the words running through your head are nowhere near as pleasant.

Don’t forget to pack your anti-depressants.

3 days sans happy pills, exhaustion, hungry but too sick to eat and then watching the last episode of Offspring, had me wailing like a banshee.

And this was the first full episode of the show I’d watched.

(Pearson, 2014)

The Kirstie Allsopp Saga

This post was written for a university assignment.

The correlation between age and women’s fertility and the wider impact for society features regularly as a topic in the mediasphere. This essay aims to analyse two reactionary media texts following an interview with Kirstie Allsopp, UK celebrity and television presenter in the personal finance section of The Telegraph (Gordon, 2014). The interview incited a backlash towards Kirstie Allsopp across the media sphere, particularly on twitter, and resulted in numerous opinion pieces across a number of media channels and started a discussion in the public sphere, notably Ms Allsopp was invited on Newsnight (BBC, 2014) to defend her stance.


(BBC Newsnight ep6, 2014)

This essay analyses two reactionary texts, opinion pieces in two UK national newspapers, in regards to the following concepts; audience positioning, postmodernity, celebrity culture, convergence,  ideological hegemony and pluralism, and looks at the implications of these concepts in the public sphere (Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan, 2011). Both texts were published online in the lifestyle sections of their respective websites, both articles were featured prominently on their homepages on the day following the Newsnight segment and invited comments from their readers (The Guardian, 2014; The Telegraph, 2014) .

Text 1: Kirstie Allsopp’s right. Don’t miss the baby boat (Pearson, 2014)

(Pearson, 2014)

(Pearson, 2014)

Whilst the content of the article reflects the author’s personal experience of juggling a career with children, the choice of headline and image anchor the text and set the tone for the rest of the article, aligning themselves with Ms Allsopp’s opinion. The audience would expect this stand point, as the addresser published the original interview, however the choice of image and words for the headline are examples of audience positioning and hegemony. The image itself positions Ms Allsopp as a privileged middle aged woman, not unlike the majority of the readers to the Woman section of the website (The Telegraph, 2014b). The addresser uses this image to draw parallels and to start building an affinity with the addressee. The signifiers of Ms Allsopp smiling, looking relaxed and content in her kitchen, decode as qualities of a woman happy with her life choices and opinions. The choice of location for the picture is also interesting given the subject matter and denotes the ‘happy in the home’ tone of this closed text.

Many of the critics towards Ms Allsopp’s comments claimed she was “smug” and “privileged” (Twitter, 2014), the connotations of this image could be seen to reinforce these claims. However, anchoring the image is the headline which uses a directive and inflammatory tone, in keeping with the emotional tone of the subject matter. The addresser uses the headline to state the unexpected: “Kirstie Allsopp is right” (Pearson, 2014) combining this with the image of a happy middle aged, successful woman, the addresser is suggesting this postmodern standpoint is worthy of further discussion. The author, herself, a middle-aged successful woman with two children, aims to draw an affinity with her readers, also middle-aged successful women by inviting them to agree with her stance.

The Telegraph present a hegemonic stance by supporting the views of their interviewee, a sound representation of the Telegraph’s demographic, whilst also inviting their readers to adapt a postmodern view on women’s fertility. They do this without alienating their reader and use the author’s viewpoint to draw affinity to the discussion. Research has shown that self-referencing increases readership (Li & Fabrot, 2013) and it appears by reading through the comments that the majority of readers react favourably to the article.

Text 2: Ignore ‘patronising’ Kirstie Allsopp’s advice, teachers tell girls (Ellis-Pearson & Tran, 2014)

(Ellis-Pearson & Tran, 2014)

(Ellis-Pearson & Tran, 2014)

In contrast to text 1, this polysemic text does not use self-referencing in the copy, yet uses the same commanding tone to set out the text’s agenda and distances the addresser from the topic slightly by quoting a third party, in this case teachers. The choice of image to accompany the article of a scowling Ms Allsopp denotes the negative approach the text takes to her opinion. The signifieds in this image are defiance, disagreement and anger, regardless of the comparatively neutral content which follows, the headline and the image present the audience with this article’s stance. The scowl could be interpreted as a metonymy, representing the anger and emotion this topic has stirred in the public sphere. The copy content of the article relays quotes from stakeholders such as a teacher and a women’s group leader. A structured absence in this text, is the opinion of the author, instead using the intertexts of the issue to form the story and inviting the addresser to form their opinion through interpellation.

As with text 1, the reader’s comments follow the tone of the article, with the majority dismissive of Ms Allsopp’s comments and question their validity through further debate of the timing of higher education, women’s fertility, career opportunities – ironically the type of debate Ms Allsopp intended to instigate through her comments. By presenting a negative text, the addressers have taken a more pluralist approach to the topic by presenting facts and allowing opinions to be debated and formed.

The postmodern celebrity?

Kirstie Allsopp, is the perfect ordinary celebrity for The Telegraph, successful in her own right yet born into aristocracy, she represents strong conservative family values (Pearson, 2014; Bainbridge, et al., 2011). Her successful career presenting property shows and producing craft and home wares has created a persona of a 1950′s house wife (Allsopp, 2014).  Yet her outspoken views on women’s fertility may have contradicted the public’s perception of her intertextual construction (Bainbridge, et al., 2011). Or maybe her views, taken out of context as both the selected texts did, fitted her celebrity text too well and the public rejected her on that basis. Celebrities, no matter how ordinary, cannot hope to understand the complexities of a modern woman, especially one who portrays themselves as a 1950′s housewife, can they? The original interview portrays her as a postmodern feminist, in a long-term committed relationship but unmarried, career driven, successful and emotionally reflective following the death of the mother earlier in the year. The content alludes to Ms Allsopps desire to find a better of way of grieving as well as reviewing the order in which women approach adulthood, looking to different cultures and systems for an solution to postmodernity. Ms Allsopp was later quoted on Twitter as saying:

“I am very, very lucky I am given a public voice by my work and failure to discuss issues which impact women’s lives would be cowardice.”

By acknowledging her status as a celebrity, she uses her reach and influence in the mediasphere to instigate a conversation on a topic she feels has been mute, in order to find a better way for future generations.

Context and Convergence

Both texts originate from well-respected newspapers with different political stances. The Telegraph, is often nicknamed the “Torygraph”, is commonly viewed as more conservative with links the political right but does not conform to the media hegemony seen amongst Murdoch’s media (Curtis, 2006). In recent years, it has followed The Guardian with a more pluralistic approach to journalism, with podcasts, comments, and blogs with a view to surviving in a digital economy whilst maintaining its stronghold with the British middle classes. This may go some way to explain the more conservative approach to the reaction to Ms Allsopp’s comments by using a self-reflective case study. This structured approach provides comfortable room for pluralistic comment while conveying ideological hegemony to appease the middle classes.

Of course the original interview was arranged by Ms Allsopp’s PR team to promote her upcoming craft event (Gordon, 2014) and could have been buried in the personal finance pages had this inflammatory comment not been highlighted and misquoted throughout social media. A cynical observer may believe this tenuous financial advice to young women was sensational enough to ensure Ms Allsopp’s media presence was extended 48 hours longer than if it had been omitted and also achieved a global audience. The mediasphere thrives on pluralistic content that engages an audience and spreads through social media spawning intertexts such as the Newsnight interview and the selected opinion pieces.

Thanks to the globalisation of television networks and program licensing, Kirstie Allsopp’s celebrity status is not confined to the UK. Her property programs are exported across the world and so to does her brand recognition. The fertility window is also not just an emotive topic in the UK but affects millions of women across the western world, facing similar issues of trying to establish careers and families in their early, mid and late thirties. The globalisation of social issues as well the convergence of the media industry ensured this story was not only on the homepage of UK news sites, but also syndicated out to news sites across the world interested in engaging a pluralistic viewpoint. In Australia, the article appeared in The Guardian Australia and Mamamia (Lever, 2014) as well as engaging social media followers from around the world (Twitter, 2014).

Source: iStock images

Source: iStock images

Economic pressures on the media industry will continue to force convergence which has been seen recently with News Limited and Fairfax Media consolidating content across mastheads in Australia. Whilst some may argue this will increase ideological hegemony through these titles, digital publishing has enabled international media institutions to be accessible to all, providing a pluralistic view. The high engagement of social media encourages the mediasphere to work intertextually and outlets will continue to find creative ways in which to engage their audience. This may be through celebrity endorsement or multiple formats such as online, radio, video etc or it may be through sensationalism. Either way, the mediasphere remains an important lynchpin of society. The forth estate has merely evolved to incorporate more channels and interpellation.

References:

Allsopp, K., 2014. Kirstie Allsopp. [Online]
Available at: http://kirstieallsopp.co.uk/
[Accessed 5 June 2014].

Bainbridge, J., Goc, N. & Tynan, L., 2011. Media and journalism: new approaches to theory and practice. 2nd ed. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

BBC Newsnight, 2014. Youtube. [Online]
Available at: http://ow.ly/xDSIb
[Accessed 4 June 2014].

Curtis, B., 2006. Strange Days at the Daily Telegraph. [Online]
Available at: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/letter_fromlondon/2006/10/paper_tiger.html
[Accessed 5 June 2014].

Ellis-Pearson, H. & Tran, M., 2014. The Guardian. [Online]
Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/jun/02/teachers-round-on-kirstie-allsopp-over-babies-and-boyfriends-comments
[Accessed 5 June 2014].

Gordon, B., 2014. The Telegraph. [Online]
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/10868367/Kirstie-Allsopp-I-dont-want-the-next-generation-of-women-to-suffer-the-same-heartache.html
[Accessed 5 June 2014].

Lever, K., 2014. Mamamia. [Online]
Available at: http://www.mamamia.com.au/social/kirstie-allsopp-advice-to-women/#ZIoJWWDOO6QRYSKR.97
[Accessed 5 June 2014].

Li, L. & Fabrot, A., 2013. What makes you click? The effect of question headlines on readership in computer-mediated communication. Social Influence, pp. 1-11.

McDonald, J. W., Rosina, A., Rizzi, E. & Columbo, B., 2011. Age and fertility: can women wait until their early thirties to try for a first birth?. Journal of Biosocial Science, 43(6), pp. 685-700.

Pearson, A., 2014. The Telegraph. [Online]
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10870063/Kirstie-Allsopps-right.-Dont-miss-the-baby-boat.html
[Accessed 2014 June 5].

The Guardian, 2014. The Guardian. [Online]
Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk
[Accessed 1 June 2014].

The Telegraph, 2014. The Telegraph. [Online]
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk
[Accessed 1 June 2014].

The Telegraph, 2014b. The Telegraph: Advertising Insights. [Online]
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/advertising/insight/10353484/Women.html
[Accessed 4 June 2014].

Twitter, 2014. Twitter. [Online]
Available at: http://www.twitter.com
[Accessed 1 June 2014].

Someone’s Grandma

This past week I’ve been living in Thailand. A life of somewhat ridiculous luxury that on numerous occasions I’ve been so racked with guilt I’ve overpaid for the privilege. I know that’s not really the idea of Thailand, you’re never to accept the first price, barter like a demon until you come away with an absolute bargain. But that’s where I fall down. Even their inflated first price is
about 10% of the cost of the equivalent in the UK or Australia. So it’s already an absolute bargain and so I pay it. It’s just the rules of fair distribution of wealth. I have it, they don’t. I’m in a position to give and help their economy so why the hell should I barter over 50bhat when that equates to $1.50.

There’s nothing like a week in South East Asia to gain a bit of perspective. Über stressed from my self imposed first world life of constant distraction, I slept for 20 of the first 24 hours of my holiday. And promptly went into a tail spin, chastising myself over wasted relaxation time. Oh the irony. That went on for about another 2 hours while, once gaining access to the all important wifi, I trip advisor-ed and meticulously planned the next 7 days.

Then I went to the beach, read a book, dipped in the pristine warm waters, hid in the ‘shadows’ (what the coconut selling man called the shade & I’ve since adopted it) came back started book #2 and completely forgot about ‘the plan’. Nothing like getting absorbed into a book to force a relaxed state.

This created more guilt as my day became eat/read/swim/sleep repeat. I’ve never been to Phuket so surely I should at least see something of it. Right after I book myself in for this 3.5 hour spa extravaganza. Because such things are only ever justifiable in SE Asia. For the bargain price of $150. But that’s where the problems started. Introduced to my masseur, a gorgeous lady of indeterminable age, she led me through to the herbal steam room where she gave me some disposable pants and left me to it with a pot of jasmine tea. Bliss. If only I had my book….I’m really not very good at doing nothing. After about 10 minutes of examining every crevice of the steam room to work out how it all worked, where the herbs went etc I gave up and climbed into the coconut milk bath (I know ridiculous!!) drank my tea and started to meditate and I think I might if dozed off.

Thankfully I was saved from drowning a rather embarrassing death by my masseur (can you image the headlines ‘death by coconuts in cleopatra copycat!’) who escorted me to a shower room. It wasn’t enough that I’d probably wasted enough water/milk stuff to feed a Thai family for a year, it became apparent I was to be washed.

Under the guise of an exfoliating scrum, this gorgeous lady meticulously slathered all manner of potions and concoctions over my amble body. She was half the size of me and I’m fairly sure SOMEONE’S GRANDMA. After that I couldn’t relax and enjoy the experience as I made up her entire family in my head, named them, gave them personalities and invented conversations they’d have over dinner when grandma finally returned from washing fat, rich, western women and retold hilarious anecdotes. It was all I could do to eliviate my guilt through self deprecation. I’d paid the equivalent of probably a weeks wage for Someone’s Grandma to give me a good scrub.

Don’t worry though, she got her own back with the Thai massage, bending and stretching my limbs into positions I suspect circus entertainers are tested on as part of their interview process. It was a harsh reminder I need to start up regular Pilates again. Man she was strong for such a small person. I took heed in that it would provide more hilarious anecdotes over at Someones Grandma’s place tonight.

The contortion was followed by a facial which was so long and relaxing I may well have dosed off again. Well the massage was kinda hard work! So many different oils, lotions, herbal steams; course after course was applied to my face. I swear I won’t need to use moisturiser til 2018. I played a guessing game to pass the time. Guess the ingredient in this lotion. My guilt had by this stage just morphed into embarrassment at how long this pamper session was going on for. In case you were wondering I guessed coconut (of course) aloe Vera, cucumber, rose, more coconut, then some sort of frozen fruity thing (which actually made me yelp but I’m sure it had tightening/anti ageing qualities so I shouldn’t complain) then more rose type stuff and I think that’s where I drifted off.

3.5 hours later and many profuse Kap Kum Kas, I was offered the most amazing ginger tea I’ve ever tasted. I practically downed it though as Someone’s Grandma and her beautiful delicate receptionist sat in silence, watching me and smiling. It was so awkward so I downed the tea and tipped them 100bhat each. I tipped them to say sorry. Out of silly catholic guilt. I’m sorry I interrupted your day to pay you to wash and stroke me. Here have some more money as I try to buy your affection.

The smile and hug I got from Someone’s Grandma was worth it. I hoped I’d be recalled as a generous silly, inflexible, fat rich westerner in her anecdotes. Ma Northern would have say I had more money than sense but I don’t see 100bhat tip as excessive. It’s $3.30 after all.