Hosting the 2017 Ultimate High Tea at Fremantle Town Hall
Photo Credit to : Clements and the Fox
Don’t fear, this is not a self deprecating post about “ooh I wish I was as pretty as her… or as skinny… or had as nice skin, hair teeth or nails (okay maybe a little about nails).” But no, this is a post about those tiny things I see ingrained into a select-few people’s day-to-day life. Those things that… maybe if someone were to offer me a million dollars I probably could change. But the thing is that… seeing as that will never happen… I probably will stay exactly the same.
By Jenna Thomas, 7th June, 2017
Mexican food is delicious – but it wasn’t going to help me get a job as a journalist. Unbelievably (on reflection) I rolled burritos at Zambrero Mexican Restaurant for three-and-a-half years before realising something needed to change. I was a second-year journalism student who really only knew how to make guacamole and tomato salsa. My confidence was not exactly sky-high – but I knew where my strengths lay. I knew that I had the rare and envied ability to strike up conversation with literally anyone and my writing-skills were not half bad. It was from that realisation that my real journey began. It’s a common known fact that nothing worth having comes easy, but in the past three years, it’s never been so true. Being an aspiring broadcast journalist is like driving on a highway, knowing your destination, but having only vague directions on how to actually reach it. Every which way you turn there’s speed-bumps, stop-signs and that big red one shouting at you, ‘Wrong way go back.’ In an industry where judgement and criticism follows you like a shadow, thick skin is a pre-requisite.
As a young, maroon-clad St Mary’s Girl on the way to school each morning, I used to giggle along to the voices of Nova’s Nathan and Nat and Shaun, as they blast through the car stereo. Never for a second did I think I could one day be working along-side them; giggling with them face-to-face at 4:45am or exchanging words over a glass-or-three of wine at a staff function. But here I am. When I decided to apply for a job at Nova, it seemed a pipe-dream. After-all I really only had experience in customer service, tortillas and cash registers. Then again what did I have to lose? I didn’t have experience in radio nor did I know what the job entailed but I found a company I wanted to be part of and a brand I connected to. After two interviews and a on-the-road trial, I landed a low-ranked but well-loved role in the station’s ‘street’ team know as The Casanovas. It was the best decision I have made to date. I learned to never hold-off from applying for role just because it hasn’t been advertised, because the best ones never will be.
Being thrown in the deep end:
I would love to say that my innate confidence and bubbly nature has always translated well on air, but that wouldn’t be true. The first time I read a live bulletin it conjured up more adrenaline than my first rollercoaster ride on the Royal Show’s Python Loop when I was 10. My hands violently shook. I told myself to calm down, it’s just community radio. But they trembled more. It was 5:56am, I switched the news panel to ‘on-air.’ I looked at the orange button illuminated below my fader, it was switched to ‘off.’ All I could think was when I switch the button ‘on,’ thousands of ears would be tuned in to my voice. 5:58. My news director sat behind me chatting away, “ham and cheese croissants are so much better toasted” he said. “Umm, yeh you’re so right,” I replied; It was honestly the last thing I cared about in that moment, and I wished he would just shut-up and let me concentrate. 5:59. One minute to go. ‘you’re going to be fine,’ he assured me. Oh well… nothing you can do now Jenna, I thought; just read. The news jingle started to play. I switched my microphone on. “It’s six o’clock good morning I’m Jenna Thomas.” It wasn’t a flawless read, nor was it very entertaining, but it was a milestone.
My worst nightmare:
The room was pitch black, the air was still, invisible sound waves were softly stimulated by the gentle inhale and exhale of my breath. Suddenly, a piercing, electronic trill shattered the silence. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep. I looked at the time on my bedside clock. 6:33am. That must be a mista- oh wait. No, please no. I opened my laptop. 6:33. Oh no. I checked my phone. 6:33am. Two missed calls and as many text messages, “Where are you?” said one, followed by, “Are you coming?” I leapt from my bed, as if it were a searing hotplate. As I ran to the bathroom I muttered curse words under my breath, soft enough to not wake my housemate. A tear rolled down my cheek. My heart raced and my head was foggy as I played out every possible situation in my head. Will I lose this position? Will everyone ignore me all morning? I didn’t want to go, I couldn’t face them. I smeared on some foundation while quickly throwing on a wrap-dress and boots and then forced my jelly-legs to walk me to my car. Once I made it through the door of the newsroom, my boss softly muttered, “Don’t worry, it happens to everyone once, just don’t do it again.”
Pushing feelings aside:
I sat there, watching and documenting the fate of a man who would soon find out he’d spend the rest of his life in prison. “The trial of Aaron Raymond Craig,” said the magistrate. We sat in the first-of-two media rows inside the WA Supreme Court, at the sentencing of a man on trial for committing a brutal and pre-meditated murder. It was my first day of Industry Placement at 6PR. I sat next to my mentor, sneakily glancing over at what he was writing on his note-pad just to make sure I was doing things right. As the trial went on I hurriedly wrote down all the important information I heard. This man had brutally murdered another, over the sale of a hand-gun he had paid for, but never received. He had, along with two other men, kidnapped a man, and taken him to the Armadale pines where he bashed, burned and buried him. I stared at the accused, his ill-fitting suit, his short grey hair and leathery, weathered skin. He barely moved. But what happened next I wasn’t quite ready for. He reached toward the railing of his stand and picked up a plastic cup of water, bringing the drink closer to his face he glanced over at me. His eyes lingered, connected to mine. My stomach turned over and over, my heart sped and my fingers tingled. Was this guilt? Shame? Why did I feel this way? I remembered the role of a journalist and the publics right to know the disgraceful actions of this man. I told myself, this is your job now.
Up, down, up, down; my shoes ferociously rubbed against the back of my foot. The press-conference was at 12. I stared down at the time on my phone. 11:56. Why on earth did I choose to wear five-inch suede boots? And why has the universe paired me with a six foot tall male reporter. I increased my speed, ‘wider strides, wider strides’ I repeated to myself over and over again. “We’re probably going to have to start running,” he said. Kicking myself into third gear, I ran. It was a moment of introspection for me, as block by block we ran down through Perth, looking like well-dressed escapees. 12:01, we made it. My calves ached and my heels were red raw. “Yes, I’m Media and this is Jenna she’s on industry placement” said my mentor to the Dumas House security. “Okay, the Premier is just about to start, go right through” he replied. Lesson? Cuts and blisters are trivial, just get there on time… and never wear heels to work again.
Risk vs Reward:
Booking a one way flight is a big decision. Aside from 10 months in England when I was seven, I’ve lived in Perth all my life; so accepting a job in New South Wales was not a choice I flippantly made. At 23 years old, I’ve lived out of home for four years, a long period of time in comparison to other girls my age. After my Dad moved to Houston and my Mum re-married, there wasn’t a spare bed for me in Perth anymore. It wasn’t all bad though, I grew up, and fast and have now developed a real comfort in my level of independence. Moving house may not be foreign territory for me anymore, but moving states is. When an opportunity is handed to you, and you’re in a position to accept it, you have to take it. Despite a terrible salary, challenging hours and looming financial strain, when I sat in Introduction to Print 100, on my first day of my journalism degree, my tutor told us, “If you’re looking for a 9-5 job and a decent income, you’re in the wrong field.” It was on that day, in that class, that I knew my future may not hold wealth nor simplicity – but I didn’t care. I am positive that moving to Sydney is undoubtedly an integral step to achieving my long-term goals.
Despite the competition, setbacks and challenges, I always get back up. I want to create a real connection with my audience through my work. Whether it be writing, reading or visuals, I want to form genuine and mutually rewarding bonds and relationships with people and tell their stories with grace and conviction. I want to entertain, inform and be a friendly face in the lives of so many Australians. A ‘strong voice’ and the right ‘look’ may have initially got me through some doors, but hard work and a positive attitude has gotten me much further. I’ve learned you can’t always please everyone but you can do what’s best for you. You just have to learn to forgive yourself. But breaking into the media industry, when your only choice is to sink or swim – you have got to doggy-paddle your arms and kick your legs, because there aren’t many life-rafts.
What ever happened to R.S.V.P.?
And no I do not mean ‘Australia’s largest online dating site’ (which actually introduced my Mum to her now husband). I’m talking about,
Remember the days when you used to send out your party invites with a particular date assigned for when the recipient should acknowledge their attendance? That date that would give you a cut-off for when you could really get into the nitty gritty of how many sausage rolls and party pies you would need to feed everyone?
Pretty much every event I have attended in the past four years, apart from my Mother’s 50th, I have been invited to through Facebook. Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Facebook makes inviting guests to a party cheap, quick and easy; the three things every modern-Australian is consistently searching for. You simply select which Facebook buddies you would like to come along, maybe add a funky little event artwork, click the ‘invite’ button and bam they’re notified. Then, in the click of a ‘can go’ or ‘can’t go’ they can let you know. But here’s where the problem lies… I’ll start with a story.
I have this friend, a lovely person, one of the kindest i’ve ever met. He invited more than 120 people to an event for his birthday, and just under one hundred had clicked ‘attending’ on the Facebook event… sounds good right? Wrong. After booking a date, paying for a venue and talking about it for weeks, when it came to the night not even 30 people managed to make it. It’s fair to say my friend was left very upset.
Here’s where the flaws lie… The thing is, Facebook also has this irritating option giving event creators and/or attendees the choice to ‘invite all friends.’ This means aspiring musicians, bands, comedy nights, fundraisers and club-night promoters flogging dead club nights that were cool in 2014, can now bombard avid Facebook users with notifications on a weekly basis. Receiving an ‘invite’ has become less exciting, less personal and often a little annoying. Hey, we’re all guilty of it, seeing that event pop up and ignoring the notification because you know you’re not interested.
But, with the constant barrage of Facebook events, I think people are forgetting the common courtesy that comes with genuinely and honestly letting someone you DO actually care about wether or not you will make their event.
I’m voting to bring back honesty and courtesy in event attendance, and sticking to your Facebook response. Let’s give our buddies a polite amount of time to establish their numbers and not flake last minute. Whether it be for costs, catering, or just peace of mind, that friend of yours having a party in three-weeks-time needs to know for sure if you will be there (or eating chocolate on your couch while you re-watch Gossip Girl for a fifth time.)
Chivalry may be dead, but common courtesy is not.
More than one-hundred floral-clad ladies (and four handsome gentlemen) descended on the newly re-furbished Fremantle Town hall Sunday the 28th of May for an afternoon tea unlike any other. Just two days after its official re-opening the Hall was packed to the rafters with vintage china, cut-crystal glassware and dozens of whimsical floral bouquets. Glass of bubbles in-hand, the guests wandered through a mini-market – a small selection of local, creative stalls, laden with unique products. From the beautiful floristry of Miss Bloomingbird to the unique, handmade accessories from Arabella’s Vintage Wardrobe, it was a showcase of class and innovation. Jazzy sounds from the house musicians ‘Avenue’ softly echoed through the hall whilst the event’s resident magician Robbie T strolled through the crowds, conjuring up roses for some lucky ladies.
At around half-past-two the three-tiered cake stands descended onto the white-linen tables, covered in every high-tea treat you can imagine. Tarts, macarons, cupcakes and of course those sweet and golden scones accompanied by strawberry jam and whipped cream. Finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off were neatly lined on pastel-coloured plates – from smoked salmon, to chicken to the oh-so-royal cucumber. The guests laughed and chatted over their dazzling display of food.
Next up, a change in pace as the host, informed the crowd there would be a fashion parade from Review Clothing. There couldn’t be a more perfect-fit brand to the Ultimate High Tea. The ‘La Vie En Rose’ collection set off by romantic frills, florals and embellishment dazzled the runway and was elegantly worn by the five stunning young models.
Prize giveaways were intercepted by a short but spectacular on-stage performance by the magic-man himself. The final act of the day was from the young, passionate full-time ballet students of Youth Ballet WA. The swing dance-number aptly named ‘Swing, Swing, Swing’ was the perfect fit for an afternoon pick-me-up. The 15 girls dazzled in their purple velvet halter-dresses and the two boys looked oh-so dapper in their fedoras and suspenders!
As the afternoon drew to a close; one woman from each table, secretly spotted throughout the event, were invited onto the stage to be crowned the days ‘best-dressed.’ Taking home the perfect posies that sat central on each table was a thoughtful and beautiful prize indeed.
The entire event would not have been possible without the owner and founder of Antiquitea, Fiona Robinson. The Perth mother-of-two began her business in 2009 with just thirteen vintage cups and saucers that she hired out for small events. Her website is here: Antiquitea
I feel very blessed to have been given to opportunity to be a part of the event and M.C. the proceedings – and received a stunning floral bouquet bought for me by Fiona from Miss Bloomingbird’s stall as a token of appreciation.
Feeling very proud of myself!
P.S This dress (The Barcelona Dress) was provided to me by Review – it’s perfectly, cut, made and will now be hanging in my wardrobe for years to come!
All Photography Credit: Clements and the Fox
I think everyone around me knows I’m a sucker for any recipe that is easy, cheap, filling and also seriously yum! This recipe seamlessly slips into all four of those categories. I made it for dinner last night and it took me all of about 10 minutes to prepare and 35 minutes in the oven and – BANG – dinner is done. It’s less than $6 a serving and packed full of protein.
All prices from Coles Australia and in AUD
Even if you begin this recipe with NONE of these ingredients in your current pantry or fridge, the recipe will only put you back $5.80 a serving (and you’ll have heaps of parmesan and cous cous left over for next time!).
Method (for one):
SERVE YOUR CHICKEN ON TOP OF THE COUS COUS AND ENJOY!
P.S – To make this Gluten-Free just swap out the cous cous for quinoa and follow the prep directions OR just buy gluten-free cous cous!