Monday, 23 March 2009

Sunshine and schadenfreude

After a surreal start to the year involving 10 inches of powdery snow in February, Spring has finally sprung. Last week was dreamily bright and daffodil-filled, and I continued with my employment offensive in between bursts of rug relaxation in the garden. On Friday I had my interview to go back to Elle as their features assistant (something I've wanted to ever since my first work experience stint there last Autumn), and I headed up in the sunshine, full of anticipation.

The interview went as well as it possibly could, with lots of lighthearted chat and laughter, I felt really lucky to know the office and staff fairly well. As I left, fingers firmly crossed, I resolved to have a lovely day minus interview dissecting and obsessing. Luckily I had a lovely man on hand to share sunny London with, and we set about a day of eating and drinking by the Thames, wandering around Theatreland, and eventually grabbed some bargain tickets for Avenue Q.

I have wanted to drop by the Avenue ever since the hit Broadway show transferred to the UK, and the residents didn't disappoint. It is a witty, pacy, bareback ride of a musical, with such hilarious themes as 'The Internet is for Porn' and the brilliant look at 'Schadenfreude'. The cast is insanely talented, with soaring vocals, incredible puppeteering skills and many voicing several characters at once. It was a very uplifting way to spend an evening, especially as it involved so many themes of entering the real world of work, love and life, although naturally caricatured.

Speaking of which, I am entering a new chapter: I got the Elle job and start in a month. This means I will get to scour the news for features ideas, attend and contribute to weekly meetings and eventually get to interview people and write up small pieces myself. I am totally thrilled as it feels like things are finally getting started for me; I know in such a bleak time for employment that I'm very lucky to have broken through even a little into journalism, but on the other hand I also know the time I've put in, the unpaid hours of going the extra mile and the effort I've put into networking and persistent follow-ups are a huge part of it.

In the news this week: Two high-profile mothers sadly died, both in tragic circumstances. Natasha Richardson's sudden and unnecessary passing was honoured in a quietly dignified dimming of the lights on Broadway and in the West End. Jade Goody's death in the early hours of Mother's Day has sparked a volatile debate as to whether she deserves such press reverence, which seems ongoing on every social networking site and round every watercooler. Far from questioning the level of 'deserved' press attention, I feel both responses are a direct result of their actions and public personas during their lives. Jade courted attention from the day she auditioned for the entertainment demon that is Big Brother, and lived her entire life in a reality TV bubble. Natasha Richardson contributed some celebrated performances on film and in the theatre, protected her boys from the paparazzi (despite their having two extremely talented and high-profile parents) and lived a quietly happy life in suburban New York.

Yes, Jade's memorial has been public and gaudy, undignified and glaring - but it is all the press can do with the memory of someone who got fully naked, shouted ignorant slurs at another woman, got a death-sentence diagnosis, got married, got chemo, got christened... all in front of the cameras. Her choice. I didn't harbour admiration for Jade at any stage of her life, but only a monster would ever wish an early death on a young mother. Two sets of two little brothers will have had a heartbreaking Mother's Day, and all those nobody vultures publicly criticizing either case seriously need to get back to their own lives.