JOANNE MCCARTHY: Progress? Fabulous

TODAY we’re going to talk about progress – how to recognise it, how to negotiate it and how to beat it with nothing but a battered Nokia phone and a poor grasp of geography.

But first, a warning. This column includes occasional name-dropping, celebrity sightings and some tedious Twitter exchanges.

Late last week I was in Sydney for a three-day work-related cultural appreciation tour – otherwise known as a media junket – at the ultra-cool QT Hotel, where even the people who clean your room seem to have hair stylists and agents.

Everyone air kissed. Everyone knew everyone else. Everyone Twittered and Instagrammed, Facebooked and apped, and talked about shoes and celebrities.

We were taken on a hotel tour.

We wandered through Mike Tyson’s room. I know how many pillows are on his bed – lots – and what his bathroom sink looks like. (White, shiny, bowl-shaped, in case you’re asking.)

We heard about other celebrities who’d stayed there, who must be exciting because everyone was impressed, but whose identities escape me because I’m a 52-year-old non-city journalist whose idea of a good time is tea, toast and a good book.

The hotel wouldn’t say if Daniel Craig was staying during the launch of the latest Bond film downstairs, but would confirm that Melissa George was in the building after a bruising encounter with the media about Home and Away.

So, all in all, there was a general feeling of fabulousness in the air.

We went to restaurants, bars, Bondi and an art exhibition preview, then more restaurants and bars before afternoon tea, and then some restaurants and bars.

At each venue there were conversations like this:

Fabulous person 1: ‘‘What’s your hashtag? Have you tweeted yet? Have you seen my tweet? Could you re-tweet that? Did you just see that (notorious footy player/corrupt pollie/former soapie star) has broken up with (former soapie starlet/supermodel/ageing pop singer)?’’

Fabulous person 2: ‘‘I thought they broke up ages ago.’’

Fabulous person 1: ‘‘Well, they did, but then they got back together again, but now it’s off and he’s going to LA to do a cable TV show.’’

Fabulous person 2: ‘‘Fabulous.’’

By day two, and after chatting with the fabulous people who turned out to be quite normal, I decided to explore the world of Twitter and Instagrams. I started off with a subtle question.

Me: ‘‘So what is the actual point of it?’’

Fabulous person 1: ‘‘Well, I put tweets up letting people know where I am, what I’m eating and who I’m with.’’

Me: ‘‘You’re with a Newcastle Herald journalist having a milkshake. Who cares?’’

Fabulous person 2: ‘‘Good point.’’

We discussed the rules of fabulousness – that advertisers and venues cross-pollinate by having fabulous people tweeting and re-tweeting (and don’t ask me to explain what that means because I wouldn’t have a clue) – so that people ‘‘follow’’ them in a virtual sense. I think.

Me: ‘‘Sort of like reverse stalking, with food and beverages?’’

Fabulous person 1: ‘‘Mmmmmm, yeah.’’

But I said this would be a column about progress and how to beat it – or at least not be left feeling out of the loop with no hope of catching up – while still clinging to your Nokia phone.

As mentioned above, actor Melissa George was controversial celebrity of the day because of a dust-up with interviewers over Home and Away. The media wanted more of her, but only someone else trying to escape the crowd had a hope of finding her.

Which is why I had two Melissa George encounters – the first in a guest lounge where I’d retreated for some peace – and where I eavesdropped to my heart’s content after she wandered in with another woman. Because as every Aussie schoolkid knows, shotgun rules apply in these situations. First person in the room gets to eavesdrop.

The second Melissa George encounter was in an elevator on Saturday morning after the 23rd time I confused the hotel’s two lifts while trying to find the fabulous front door.

I was dressed in running gear. She was dressed to the nines. We had a chat in which we were both funny and fabulous.

And there wasn’t a piece of technology in sight.  


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