Joanna Roughton, a 21st-century homemaker

By Ángela de Miguel

Joanna was a mother of six, wife, and journalist, who left frontline journalism to dedicate herself to her family full time.  She never regretted the move. Knowing that her home was now working better made her happy, and she knew how lucky she was. In a Homemakers Project interview, she said that her current “job” was certainly no less important than her former one.

As a journalist, she had been senior editor for Reuters in Hong Kong and Singapore, and then Head of Foreign News at Sky News in London. Only someone who has travelled the same path knows just how gripping that sort of work is. But in an editorial meeting after having her first child, she realized that her priorities were now elsewhere.

Joanna and her husband, Colin Brazier, supported Home Renaissance Foundation from the start. Convinced of the need to talk about homes and how important they are for society, they were the ones who suggested our latest study, the Global Home Index, on the values required to make a home.

For several years, Joanna’s posts on the Home Renaissance Foundation’s blog were a way of keeping in touch with her previous job. They are well worth reading – direct, touched with irony, and still keenly applicable today.

Although we worked together in the same thinktank I met Jo face to face just three or four times – a downside of teleworking. Those few meetings were gems; she really was a woman for all seasons. She won me over in the first minute of our first meeting. She always had a smile that expressed the joy of her Christian faith, she was charged with energy, and combined optimism and realism. All of these features were used by her from day to day in building the home that she captained, a-swirl with six children, horses and dogs, and a husband at the beck and call of breaking news.

She knew the pitch and how to play it. We can be sure she has left a stellar example that will be followed by her children under Colin’s guidance, and that from heaven she will continue cheering on her wonderful family with the same strength she always showed. Rest in peace, Joanna Roughton.

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A “Shockingly Domestic” Actress On The Red Carpet

It’s a strange thing. We are so conditioned to the idea – the caricature really – of what a Hollywood starlet should be, that we are shocked when they don’t always play by the rules.

Take Julianne Moore. The actress has been doing a battery of interviews recently to publicise the release of her latest film, Non-Stop, co-starring Liam Neeson. She must be a showbiz editor’s worst nightmare. Her interviews do not reveal toe-curling neuroses. No diva tantrums. No history of self-harm or drug addiction. Instead there is domesticity and a passion, not for the leading man, but for home-making! In one interview, with the Sunday Telegraph, she outed herself as “tremendously, shockingly, domestic”.
Photo: AFPNot for her an army of helpers in the kitchen. This is a woman who rejoices in telling the world that: “I make a hot breakfast for my children every day, and I always put out place mats and napkins”.

Moore, 53, says she does all her own housework. “My house is very clean and organised,” she said, reminding those of us who have never had to fret about who to thank at the Oscars, that glitz and glamour are not everything. Indeed, her comments suggest that it is possible to imagine a world in which an orderly home might be a lifeline. For those navigating their way through life in the movies, with its reputation for high-octane living, instability and short shelf-lives – there is something to be said for the deeper roots provided by a well-run home.

On one level, it might be said that Moore evinces a desire to assert some control while working in an industry whose practitioners are famously vulnerable to the whims of fashion. A home where, as a mother and a spouse, Moore draws sustenance from the  quotidian drawing-up of household rules and development of domestic regimens. I imagine that amid the ephemera of the entertainment business, the ability to pick up a vacuum cleaner or a cooking pan, and instantly see results, could be quite an antidote to the long, drawn-out process of film-making. Could the humdrum and practical throw all those sensitive showbiz egos into relief?

This is not to endow housework with transcendant properties. As Be Home has argued before, there is necessarily much about home-making that entails unheralded drudgery. But there is also something about being in control of our most sacred personal space – our home – which amounts to a privilege. It is refreshing to hear someone like Julianne Moore state candidly that she sees it that way. This is a woman who has the financial wherewithal to contract out every aspect of household management – and elects not to.