Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Thrift, Trope and Trolls

Being thrifty at first was a bit of a chore. Emotionally it was an admittance of money being tight, physically it was quite time consuming and meant dropping tv programmes or getting up earlier. Of course the budgeting and not buying things wasn't much fun either but gradually a shift took place. The bread making became therapeutic and the nipping out into the garden for produce brings me a sense of joy and has given me some time back.

Freshly baked Spelt bread

The vegetable/fruit patch of the garden

Has it saved any money? I think so. Well apart from basil I have all the herbs I need. My basil growing keeps gong pear shaped. Plenty of rocket means points make prizes and if those strawberries come to fruition then petit garcon will be very happy.
Emotionally being thrifty has changed my view of materialism and also made me more compassionate. When you reconnect with nature (and the Romans - I make spelt bread) you value soil, rain, sunshine and creatures. I love the bees and the worms and I wish the ladybirds would hurry up and come to eat the pesky grubs.

gratuitous shot of petit garon (still in his pjs)

Which leads me on to trope. Trope and hegemony were two favourite words I learnt during my masters degree. Hegemony is quite complex in that it is attributed to power whether political, historical or cultural. I was discussing it in the cultural sense of a dominant presence or ideology.
Hence, and I quote from my dissertation (make a cup of tea/coffee now or find a pillow this is a long unforgiving post).

This hegemony of the red dress as a motif in Hollywood is an external item attempting to interrogate an internal dialogue or representation of women. It becomes a useful indicator of their ‘authentic’ self or their social standing. It is the fashion theory books which provide further insight into the symbolic nature of the red dress on screen."

Of course without hegemony there isn't really a trope. Because in the context of my dissertation the trope was the red dress.

"It is the visual spectacle of the red dress upon the screen, a dress which is a complete garment with a bodice and skirt, fitted upon the body, which alerts the audience to a shift in plot. Stephen Gundle and Clino T. Castelli in their examination of the colour red attest that ‘the association of red with vanity and excess means that it can depending on period and context, take on positive and negative meanings at different times.’ (Gundle, and Castelli, 2006:122) So, no surprises that, when you create costumes in red they have particular potency and that the red dress has associated meaning making it a visual trope for the female character."

a bit of visual splendour and relief!

What an earth does thrift, nature and the red dress have to do with blogging? What is the point of this post!

Trolls and confusion is the answer. A certain blogger namely Sister Wolf suffered a dreadful loss, the death of her son Max. Sister Wolf is infamous for her wonderful writing. She challenges the hegemony of collective acceptance and particularly social matters.

In the UK today we celebrated a report, the longest report ever, into Bloody Sunday that took place in Derry in 1972. 13 males were killed mainly teenagers and Eamonn McCann an Irish journalist campaigned long and hard to get to the truth and to get justice. All those killed were declared innocent. Would this have happened without constant challenges against the political system and the hegemony of power, probably not.

I've said it before and I'll say it again blogging started as being outside the mainstream. Some blogs have become part of the system. This is clear with many fashion blogs. Blogs which are defined by the press as the best or in their top 100. The invites to shows, magazine features and of course advertising. There is nothing wrong with this at all. But a hierarchy has been created. So the cycle of discourse shifts and those in the mainstream become representative of a hegemony and therefore develop as representing specific things. They can then be examined in respect of antithesis, irony, metaphor or hyperbole to name some literary uses of trope. however with language meaning develops and trope tends to mean a common or over used device. Which is why I examined the red dress moment in Hollywood films.

Back to Sister Wolf, she employs many techniques to examine and challenge - and certain individuals become symbolic and are used as tropes to discuss wider issues. It seems that this is a difficult concept for many to comprehend. When it comes to styling I look for visual expression to create a story or props/locations that will place clothes within a context. However this is limited by the client or defined by the 'house style'. Strictures are in place even in fashion but fashion is 100 times more creative than many jobs as is journalism. There is a culture which creates and encourages thought. Thought, that must keep challenging and shifting views.

I accept for many in their work, Mr MDS is no exception, the rigours of 'professionalism' create more conformity. Some families have more structures and differing ideas of behaviour than others. We all carry views created and defined by others.

In my garden and making my bread I find time to reflect, to remember the fun I've had and to be thankful for living and being alive. When I was doing my 'A' levels my late aunt bagged me work experience with Isabella Blow. My aunt was very glamorous and worked in the Foreign Office and had all sorts of arty friends. Isabella was working at The Sunday Times. It probably wasn't the best work experience in respect of structure. My aunt must have known what to expect because she gave me a wad of money for the week. Isabella had a way of saying 'Would you darling, be a love' which was either followed by a hand wave in a direction so I had to make a guess at to exactly what; or coffee/cigarettes/food was mentioned. Off I duly trotted. She never once offered me money. But she did ply me with advice even though I never asked for any and attempted to ply me with gin, which I did eventually grow fond of.

One of my favourite comments was after a bit of a row she had in my earshot. I must have looked like a scared rabbit because she said "If you don't have enemies you can never have friends." She was chaotic and she was quite bonkers but she was one of the many people who have enriched my life by providing a different perspective.

Sister Wolf takes risks in that she challenges, creates debate but it seems some people confuse this with being obsessive or have no understanding of discourse - using people or things as examples to discuss wider issues. I had to defend her this week because she wrote a typical post in the midst of her grief and some people attacked her. They did not unpick the commentary.

Eamonn McCann is a campaigning journalist, he work with facts - he wanted an outcome, justice for the 13 dead. Due to his focus and against the odds 38 years later he got it

Sister Wolf is a commentator/a columnist, she is provoking and opinionated. Like Julie Birchhill or Marmite you either love it or hate it. Normally disagreement or attacking remarks bounce off her or she gives a response, but currently she is a mother who has lost a son. This is why I defended her against trolls. in the same way I choose thrift over debt I choose to be a friend and if that makes for enemies then mines a G&T hey ho.


  1. Wow - I'm going t be late for work now but coulnd't stop reading your brilliant post.
    1. You worked with Isabella Blow! Amazing.
    2. The Bloody Sunday debacle - finally peace for those who lost a loved one.
    3. The Red Dress - youlearn something every day. And today I am wearing red. But not a dress.
    4.Better to be hated for who you are rather than loved for who you are not.

  2. Fabulous post .. so much so I will have to read it again.
    Loved to her more about you, I have to say one of the reasons I always visit your blog is although its a "fashion blog" its not, its more of a style blog.
    I am missing growing my own veg this year .. due to just too much to do. I also bake and bake bread, not as often as I eat too much of it, homemade pizza bases too .. wonderful.
    Northern Ireland was a travesty.
    I am also going to read Sister Wolf, I know that she has had a tragedy and left a comment but have only read that one post.
    I am like marmite :) I talk too much x
    ps you know I love a red dress... well red anything

  3. I like vegemite and I love Sister Wolf xx

  4. I just want to say (sincerely - I hate the Unintended Irony Demons of the Internet) 'Good for you'. On all counts.

  5. Curiously amazing post! Sister Wolf is one helluva crazy-genius-bitch. Her son's death is tragic.

  6. This post was a work of such magnificence I gave it a standing ovation.
    The world needs people like yourself, Eamonn McCann and Sister Wolf.

  7. Wow, great post! The bread looks so good - I'm imagining it with some lovely crumbly lancashire!

  8. Goodness, what a great post! The fresh produce is obviously expanding your wisdom Mrs. MDS

    Huge love


  9. Perhaps you could submit this post for another degree, very well said.

  10. Incredible post and all well said - I also emailed the Sister Wolf troll! And I can't believe you worked with Isabella Blow! Did you get my email btw? I sent it you yesterday from my work address?

  11. I just had to get involved as I find your comments on the recent Sister Wolf tirade to be eloquent, laugh-out-loud witty (yes I laughed, despite the dark subject matter) and generally genius. You are awesome. PS If you have the time, check my blog, I wrote a long tirade about lazy bloggers a la Sea and would be interested in your opinion on it. xx RedHead

  12. A great post, in the style of thrift i am baking cupcakes this Friday for my nephews birthday party. Whilst I've not yet attempted to bake bread, I'm getting quite good at cupcakes! Re Sister Wolf, I started following her blog after reading a couple of your earlier post, very sad news indeed. It did interest me how those 'trolls' wouldn't let it lie and kept reposting comments. Blogs are just like a tv programme - if you don't like it, don't watch it! Also interesting about the use of a red dress in film - what about the girl in the red dress in Schindlers List, interested to know what you thought about that. PS thanks for your comment on my latest post xx

  13. LOVE this post ! You've done it again.

  14. My heart bleeds for sister wolf, how dreadful.
    Is it really cheaper to make your own bread?

  15. Mrs Fab - it is less expensive and more tasty. I also find you don't eat it as much, no thinking that is my bad bread making! I like to have the flour in so I don't have to go to the shops and I love spelt. I do make wheat flour bread too and focaccia xx

  16. Brilliant post, and thank you for your support of Sister Wolf.

  17. Brilliant and beautiful post MDS. Much appreciation.

  18. What a post, Kate! I don't know where to start. Garcon looks so adorable and just like you. You worked with Isabella Blow?! (Shouldn't you write a tell-all book?) And you have shown incomparable support for our friend Joanne, who is struggling through terrible loss. One thing I know about her, though. Anger and wit will bring her through. And friends.

  19. What a brilliant and thought provoking post. I loved reading it.

    I'm totally with you on Eamonn McCann and delighted at the outcome. I will definitely go and read Sister Wolf. I love the colour red and red dresses. I knew Issy and she was such a character, what a fabulous work experience that must have been! I've never made my own bread but I'd love to grow something in my garden. You've inspired me! Hope you're well. Love Christina xx

  20. Wonderful post, thank you!

  21. Thank you everybody for your comments. It is nice that people understand matters but it isn't all plain sailing I didn't think it would be. I have a new buddy called Jane Doe. She/it likes to email me. In fact in case I didn't get the first one at 10:46am GMT this morning I got a second lesser version at 10:52am GMT.

    Here are the emails:

    1. We have been massive fans of your blog and love your take on fashion and "making do" with clothes. We related to you because we are mums of little boys too. We try to be styllish. We enjoy your sense of humor. All our pals loved reading your blog. We felt we knew you and we wanted to invite you to our homes and have you look through our wardrobes.We were at a dinner party last night with 30 other ladies for a 40th birthday and the topic was Sister Wolf from Goddamit I'm Mad. We are all so sad for her. Many of us have 1st hand experience with suicide-(me-husband in 2005 and some of us lost parents to suicide). The pain of suicide is like no other because ther is a lot of guilt because you feel like you are to blame. Then the topic of conversotion turned to you and your comments. Your comments have really surprised and disappointed us. We know you were trying to help your friend, but instead, you caused damage and hurt and suffering to others.You came across as cruel, hurtful, immature, spiteful, unintelligent and like, adolescent groupie. Not a good look for someone's mum.We are shocked that you villified people on a public blog. Contacting a person through an email and then displaying it-how will that help? It inflamed senseless anger. Why do something so stupid? Why would you damage your career like this? We expect Sister Wolf to be extreme and lash out. We thought you were nice. A mum like us. The tough bit is for you is that a lot of forums are now juging and villifying you calling you names and mocking and making fun of you. None of us will read your blog again. You are like a teenage girl with low self esteem craving acceptance from the popular gang.

    2. My husband suicided in 2005. I know about the guilt because you think you could have stopped it. I think you were trying to help Sister Wolf on her blog by spamming that lady's email and sending those messages but you just inflamed the hate and rage. It won't bring the son back. It won't help her with her grief. I always thought you were clever and funny. I see now that you are cruel heartless not very bright immature and crave acceptance like an teenager from the popular girls. You have damaged your career and reputation. Forums are full of people saying you are a fool are mean and mocking you. Your comments did more harm than good and an intelligent caring mother would have known this. You really are stupid. I won't be reading your blog again.

  22. Can you believe it! I just wrote the best ever response, even I was laughing, which I know is wrong but I touched something and it all went - like a cloud of smoke.

    Best left alone then, damn just when I was getting going.

    Ok here is the edited edited version


  23. ^^wow, I'm flabbergasted! But first, this post is a smart and a beautifully written explanation of what some blogging is and can be. Those emails are laughable. "A lot of forums" - as if and whatever indeed.
    And your bread looks delicious and is inspiring to work on some wheat this weekend. It is therapeutic.

  24. Jesus god almighty. Have we gone through the looking-glass?!? Is this the rapture?!?

    Nice Mums are now mad at you?!?!? What kind of "mums" are these?!?? Where do they make such faulty creatures?!?

    Kate, this is just. I don't even know. If your "career is ruined" I will give you my house to make it up to you(you'll have to make the mortgage payments though) xoxo

  25. Sister Wolf - you are so right about meeting the mortgage payments. There was me thinking with my career in ruins I could go and debit my way out of misery in Chanel.

  26. Ugh! People. Lame. Shame . . . that they won't be reading anymore. But I will!

  27. I want to make my own spelt bread too, in the spirit of thrift and for nurturing purposes. Please could you post your recipe?

    Many thanks.


Thank you for commenting, much appreciated. Sorry about no longer offering anonymous comments but spamming had become a very annoying issue. xxx