After finishing my placement with Time Inc, I was asked if I would like to work with them on their stand at the London Boat Show. For the duration of the show (ten days) we sold magazines in hard copy, and subscriptions with truly excellent deals – £50 Henri Lloyd voucher with a £38 magazine subscription, anyone? No brainer. And during this we met, encountered, and got to know the readers of the magazines we were selling. No obsequiousness intended; chatting to (or perhaps more listening to) the readers as they came onto the stand was really lovely. On the whole they were passionate, opinionated, feisty, and interested in what it was we were doing. Generally, one will struggle to find an unpleasant boater, as we tend to be all like-minded. I mean naturally, there were some grumblers, some who came onto the stand and refused to even look me in the eye, let alone say hello! But there were many who directed all their flirtations to my female colleague and myself, and their serious questions to our male colleagues. One man came on and watched, dismayed, as my male colleague walked off the stand “Ah, well that man may have been able to answer my question…” implying he didn’t think I would be able to. Naturally I replied “Try me.” and went on to answer his question for him perfectly satisfactorily. As the week bore on, I became increasingly frustrated with this assumption that my being a young girl automatically lowers the chance of my knowing anything about boating. It is not a new revelation for me – when mooring the boat, random men will tell me what to do with my own lines (to which they frequently receive a vicious glare), or ignore my own directions of how I want them tied (“if you could just take it round and then back to me, please….” No? Did I say I wanted it tied off on the pontoon??). Now I’m not going on a crazy feminist rant here, and of course I don’t believe that men should never help women, and women should never look to men for guidance – that would be ridiculous – but what I do take umbrage with is this insistence on my lack of knowledge due both to my age and my sex. I love boating, and I take care to learn about it – all I say is that I think we need to be careful of the assumptions we make. However, I return to my sunny outlook… The readers of the magazines were truly lovely, being chatty, friendly and not afraid to tell us what they think. The show itself was very popular – there being a 4% increase in visitors this year, and with new attractions such as the 4D experience, and the wall of rain, ticket sales are set to rise again next year.
And further, Chris Jeffries, of Motor Boat and Yachting, asked me to do some further reporting for him while I was at the show – the article can be found here.