I’ve just seen Bryony Kimmings’s show (see issue One) at the Soho Theatre, London (http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/bryony-kimmings-credible-likeable-superstar-rolemo/). This is really thought-provoking, shocking, witty and clever. But above all the sincerity and dedication to creating an alternative role model for tweenies was palpable and surprisingly moving. Catherine Bennett is Bryony’s vocation despite her not having the multi-million budgets that other pop idols do.
I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve always found some pleasure in every job I have ever had and that has meant I lose track of time. I’ve felt awkward that colleagues who could only do their conditioned hours felt undermined. Would my ‘achievements’ reinforce management’s often unrealistic expectations? Some months ago I was offered work but the managers struggled to get funding. ‘It’s OK’, I said, ‘I’ll do it anyway’. There was genuine horror at the suggestion. Why is that so shocking? Someone said I would be undermining the professionals. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered the perception that all unpaid work debases professionalism. I recently sourced a group of amateurs for a project. They’d do an excellent job but as a point of principal they wouldn’t tender against the professionals. I had to demonstrate value for money and I was firmly told the only acceptable way was through the tender process! Then questions began to be asked about how could the amateur group do a good job – they weren’t professionals and weren’t being paid!
Doing something for nothing (more or less) seems to be a prerequisite to employment (with apprenticeships, internships and volunteering). Are those simply modern parlances for ‘tea boy’ [sic]? Hasn’t it always been the norm to start at the bottom and work your way up? Has anything changed? It does feel different with that tier – like a step removed from a real job.
Notwithstanding the terrible unemployment situation and the fact that we all need money to live, I am bolstered by those who have achieved their dreams through dogged determination. These people are in the media all the time; but I meet them frequently too amongst my family, friends and acquaintances. They may not have the extraordinary ambition of Bryony Kimmings, nor take on such a formidable and crucial cause, or use the platform of the west end stage. It took a consultant introducing my mother to students as a ‘freedom fighter’ to make me realise that what had been an extraordinary achievement, I had taken for granted as normal for her generation.
What of our other contributors in Issue One and those in forthcoming issues: artists like Merlyn Riggs, authors like Maeve Kennedy, researchers Like Uta Frith and protestors like Toni Brown and Di Harney? Their motivation to achieve must surely have been driven by a passion and not by remuneration. It’s only as I reached the end of this blog that I realised there’s our Her Edit team too.