Saturday, 4 August 2012

First day

The first day of "work" started disastrously by having to wait half an hour, for a taxi that had already been to pick me up once before. Still the excuse I am given is "I didn't know where the site was". Suspicious much? Supported by the fact that upon arrival I was met by the news, all but one of the other girls were equally as late. Not only that but they were all given the same lame excuse. The only girl on time being Margaret as she gave up waiting and made her own way there. I honestly don't blame her as she was supposed to be picked up by the same taxi as myself, from this I have the knowledge that it only arrived there at 10:25 am. Work was supposed to start at 10:00 am. This raises the question, how could she, along with all of the girls have possibly made it to the factory on time? The first of many, not so subtle, dramatised set ups.
When all of the girls had arrived we were made to line up against the wall like the Primary children Miss Madine assumes us to be. While Leanne takes the opportunity to have a good laugh at the girls' expense, simply because they have a can of Red Bull, and some of their style choices aren't what she deems appropriate for a first day of work. Firstly, I would like to question the humorous aspects of drinking a can of Red Bull early in the morning. I know many teenagers, Travellers and Gorjers a-like that drink it as a pick me up, it is an energy so therefore it is serving its purpose. Secondly, I would like to point out that each and every girl received a phone call from the film crew, requesting them to dress their best for their first day of work. Only the girls that hadn't been in a place of work before listened to their vague dress code. I for one thought it pretty cruel of them, it is uncomfortable enough feeling out of place, on your first day of work without the dreaded feeling of being overdressed.
Once the floor had been set up into the crews' liking, we were positioned, repositioned, and then repositioned again. The staff took turns introducing themselves and what they do before Thelma took her turn to step up. One of the first things to leave her lips was none of the colleges in the area will let us take up a course or attend the college because " are Travellers and no one trusts you...". Clearly a lovely nugget of inaccurate gold to pass on to your newly hired "apprentices". She then went on to remind us of the rules and various other information. Immediately taking this opportunity to alienate me by saying I am the most "experienced" and most "educated", being neither subtle or phrasing it softly. As if that wasn't enough she carried on by announcing I would be working on corsets with Yan-Lee. Soon after which she just dismissed the other girls by reason of she hadn't given any thought yet as to which area they would be working in.
Lunchtime arrived and it was clear that Leanne wanted nothing to do with us and didn't want any of the other staff interacting with us either, so she plotted for them all to eat in her design room, with clear disregard for Thelma's rules. Thelma gave merely one attempt to reestablish her authority over her own rule-breaking employees but it was clear she had no control over them, in the coming weeks it became apparent as to why.
Thelma Madine was barely ever at the factory, when she was there she would hide out in the kitchen or the office and not let any of the girls near her unless the cameras were there at the ready. During my ten weeks there I saw Thelma on a sewing machine once for all of five minutes. This was to show Victoria how to do a straight stitch on a piece of scrap material.In fact I was told straight from the horses mouth after I put a zip into a pencil skirt "I can't even put zips in". I didn't learn a thing from her, I was actually put to work on the customers' wedding dresses within a few weeks. The few things I did learn on the "course" I learnt from Thelma's unappreciated workers: Yan-Lee, Stacey, Doll, and Marta. All of whom are of other nationalities, and I got along with them better than most of the other people in that factory where as I didn't see one ounce of respect from Thelma towards them. I would love to know how from this it is Gypsies & Travellers that are "racist" to people that "can't speak English".

Monday, 30 July 2012

The recruitment

Only read this with an open mind. If you have already made your opinion on me, the show, Thelma, the traveller & gypsy community or anything else along those lines, do not read any further as you will not reap the full benefit.
I will start from the very beginning...
I didn't read about the programme online like most of the girls, the first i heard about it was when some of the film crew were "scouting" around local sites in the area and they visited mine. Originally I was only going to help them ask some of the other girls but i was told that there would be a city & guilds on completion of the course and that it would be like an apprenticeship with Thelma herself. I was also informed that if i did not wish to be filmed then i could just come along to the recruitment day and apply for the course on it's own without being part of the "documentry".
A few weeks later I recieved a call asking if I was available for an interview, at this point I thought things were going well as this is the protocall I have been used to when I have applied for previous jobs. Upon arrival the two members of the crew had their cameras at the ready, that should have been my first insight into the running of the show. It took me, my Mam, my Granny, and a call to the series producer to confirm that they had agreed I did not need to be filmed before they gave up. They then moved on to quizing me about my culture, which I can safely say is far from any other "job interview" I've had. They couldn't have cared less about my capability, instead they kept pushing for more juicy details. I did foolishy think of that as pretty fair at the time as people outside the community tend to be quite quizative towards us, so I agreed to go ahead with the recruitment day along with one of my friends.
After waiting half an hour for the taxi that the show arranged we (me, my friend, and my Mam) arrived there to find the camera crew creeping around like snipers. Not trusting the crew to keep to their word and keep me and my friend out of the frame, we waited in the taxi until my Mam phoned one of the crew and confirmed we were not to be filmed. We then left the taxi to wait on a staircase for an hour and a half after which we were seperated into those which did and didn't wish to be filmed, where we then waited a further hour for Miss Madine to arrive and make her entrace which took 3 attempts. Once she had listed her expectations she made a prompt exit and all of us were hearded into seperate room filled with colouring pencils and paper, it looked very much like one of my primary school classes but with less organisation. It was clear that Thelma's expectations of us were already extremely low to say the least. Some of the girls were beginning to get restless and so were getting a little rowdy, as teenagers do, there was no "family fued" going on. Aprox 5 hours later I was asked to take my interview but told that if i was not filmed during the interview then there was "no point" as I wouldn't be considered for the placement, seeing as I had left college for this chance I agreed to be on camera but my Mam did not sign the release form. My friend had better sense and did not agree to be on camera. Two hours later Thelma, Pauline, and Leanne had made their decision and came through to tell the girls. My name was called out first and I immediately felt sick, the thought "what am I doing" ran through my head over and over... why didn't I listen to my gut instinct... :(