Ordinary Lifestyles: Popular Media, Consumption and Taste

By David Bell; Joanne Hollows | Go to book overview

17 Thinking habits and the
ordering of life

Elspeth Probyn


A morning in the life of a chapter

Shortly after 7 a.m. the beloved's alarm goes off and she heads for the shower, stopping to put the kettle on. I pry myself from the bed and the cat and make coffee. Half a cup and a rig, sitting outside looking at the blowing jacaranda tree in the distance, serves to flush the night's labours of dream-work away. The day has started. The girlfriend leaves for work with kisses and exhortations to have a good day and drive safely.

Not quite 8 a.m. and the workday has started with a quick perusal of email. There are the usual 50 or so messages that have gathered since the night before. A lot of spam. I wonder at the ingenuity of spammers, who try to entice me to open their documents with messages about ‘nice text, good effort’. It sounds like the comments students receive from us, or maybe the spammers got one too many anodyne comment from their university teachers before they turned to a life of piracy on the broadband highway.

I dodge the offers of hardcore porn, admiring the audacity of their headers: ‘Anorexics get their protein’, says one. Neatly deleted, there's still a heavy load of admin email. ‘Read, respond or delete’ is my new motto and in the space of 15 minutes I've cleared the inbox – for the moment.

Ah yes, that chapter on ordinary life. Time to get at it. So far I've tried a couple of different angles. The food media, a project I've been working on for three years would seem to offer scope, and in fact it's what I promised the editors whenever it was that I returned their invitation with an abstract, now long forgotten. I tried it out but I am so fed up with food right now that it quickly went nowhere.

At that dead end I then became obsessed in a rather paranoid fashion with the very idea of the ordinary. I fumed to myself, who'd want to be ordinary anyway? Certainly I never have. Flashes from school of being hauled in front of the headmaster and rebuked: ‘You'll never be anything but an exhibitionist’. It didn't faze me. Of course I wanted to be extraordinary.

With the passing of time you realize that ordinary is not the

-243-

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