OFFICIAL BLOG

Fieldnotes

"Sorry!" Cats from 30 Pounds in Shoreditch; Snow in Manhattan

Published by Wednesday Martin

One of my favorite British-isms is "Sorry!" When I first started spending time in London, I noticed it was used all kinds of ways I wasn't used to. For example, being American, it took me a while to get the hang of walking to the left rather than the right, so I was frequently in someone's way on the sidewalk. "Sorry!" they would say, meaning, "You're in my way." It's more polite than the thing New Yorkers say in the same situation: we issue an exasperated, angry "Excuse me?!" which is not much of a euphemism for "Effingmove it!" Other times in England "Sorry!" is used if you make a mistake, to simultaneously acknowledge and gloss over the social awkwardness. "Sorry!" the flawless concierge at our hotel would say if I knocked a pen off the counter. That sort of meant, "Sorry that happened and rather than ignoring it, which would be potentially even more awkward, I'm going to sort of take responsibility for it myself." As we rushed to get on our plane at the end of our trip, I "bumped queue after queue" simply shouting over my shoulder, "Our flight is leaving, sorry!" In this context it meant, "Thanks for understanding my boorishness." Thank goodness someone has written cogently on the the uses of "sorry" in British idiom. I love this hilarious piece, "A Poor Apology for a Word" by Henry Hitchings in the New York Times.


Photo of the Day, London

Published by Wednesday Martin
A “children’s table” would be a foreign concept in many cultures, where separate spheres for kids and grown ups do not exist. I loved watching these boys and their mums enjoying themselves, adjacent, apart, yet together, at a cafe in South Kensington
A “children’s table” would be a foreign concept in many cultures, where separate spheres for kids and grown ups do not exist. I loved watching these boys and their mums enjoying themselves, adjacent, apart, yet together, at a cafe in South Kensington

As I sat working in a cafe in South Ken, this group of four mothers and six boys came in. The boys seemed to be eight or nine years old. Maybe it's because I'm the mother of two boys....but I love mother/son outings and was drawn to ask the "mums" if I could photograph them all. I explained that I was a social researcher from New York City who studies childhood and motherhood (obviously I'm not a photographer), in London doing a little fieldwork.


Fieldwork in London

Published by Wednesday Martin
At the BBC Studio in London, I spoke about gift exchange and what primates want for the holidays
At the BBC Studio in London, I spoke about gift exchange and what primates want for the holidays

I'm always excited to be in London. Londoners are interested in reading and in relationships, which makes it a great place for authors and social researchers who focus on families (ahem). And for a New Yorker, there's the extra benefit that London feels familiar, yet different. The building height restrictions in most of town, plus the horizontal sprawl (versus the density and upward lift of Manhattan) make it feel inviting, homey and manageable. Yet London is as diverse and cosmopolitan a metropole as you will find anywhere in the world, rivaling Our Town when it comes to incredible restaurants, theater, cafe culture, fashion innovation and self-important hustle and bustle. Currently there's a show about 80's fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum that I loooooved. It's called Club to Catwalk and it immerses you in the 80s London club and fashion scene in a way that's both informative and very emotional, if you experienced it the first time around.


Mothers to Star Magazine: Fu*k Off!

Published by Wednesday Martin
It’s open season on mothers. Especially ones in the spotlight.
It’s open season on mothers. Especially ones in the spotlight.

I used to think our national sport was football. Then I had children. And learned very quickly that in fact, our national sport is judging mothers. It starts early in the process. From the moment I conceived, it seemed, everybody had an opinion about what I ate, what I wore, what I should do. Much of it was well-intentioned--advice about how to handle morning sickness was something I really appreciated. I did NOT appreciate being told by one woman that "I was always too busy to have morning sickness." Nor did I appreciate child birth educators telling me that having an epidural would make me a bad mother.


"Priceless but Useless" — Children of the Anthropocene

Published by Wednesday Martin
In the industrialized West children are “priceless but useless.” We value them but don’t expect them to contribute to the household in any real way. Mine were surprised when I told them to rake the backyard.
In the industrialized West children are “priceless but useless.” We value them but don’t expect them to contribute to the household in any real way. Mine were surprised when I told them to rake the backyard.

Developmentalist Jean Piaget famously observed that "play is the work of children." But in some places, work is the work of children. And that's not a bad thing.


An Evening with Karl Lagerfeld; Tiina Laakkonen; and My Stylist Christian Mesheshma: Adornment Practices in Manhattan

Published by Wednesday Martin
I attended “An Evening with Karl Lagerfeld to Benefit Lincoln Center.” Karl is endlessly quotable, refined, entertaining and deeply eccentric. He might call this combination “modern.”
I attended “An Evening with Karl Lagerfeld to Benefit Lincoln Center.” Karl is endlessly quotable, refined, entertaining and deeply eccentric. He might call this combination “modern.”

Everybody knows New Yorkers are fashionable and fashion-centric and often fashion-eccentric. We're the center of the US fashion industry and hello, we have Bill Cunningham!


Dior and Chanel — High Art?

Published by Wednesday Martin
Here I am with Chanel event hostess Suri Kasirer. The hard working mother of three wore Chanel, and looked amazing. Pardon my Prada!
Here I am with Chanel event hostess Suri Kasirer. The hard working mother of three wore Chanel, and looked amazing. Pardon my Prada!

In an era of multinational conglomerates controlling dozens of fashion brands, and designers designing for more than one house, or moving from one to the other, what is a fashion brand? What is a fashion designer? And how and why do women choose the ones they do?