JAN MOIR: Whisper it, but I’m quite enjoying this sweet isolation…
My sister and I Face Timed for the first time ever yesterday. We’ve had the technology to do so for years.
We speak to each other at least three times a week but, until now, we have never felt the need to gaze upon each other as we did so.
Why bother? I know what she looks like.
I could predict to within a neatly knotted John Lewis scarf exactly what she will be wearing, how her hair will look, that she will be sporting nicely polished brown boots.
I know every inch of her kitchen, right down to her teapot collection on the shelves to the right of the sink, some of them gifted by me, her wise, generous and ever-so-kindly big sister. So no FaceTime needs for us.
The mental picture is there, already ingrained.
Like many, Daily Mail columnist, Jan Moir, has tried out new technology like Facetime to cope and stay in touch throughout the coronavirus lockdown (stock image)
Previously, I needed only sound, not Sis-o-vision. Now, however, the restrictions of ongoing selfisolation mean that I want both.
I crave both! So we clocked in on FaceTime, her lovely, cheerful face suddenly taking up the screen on my phone, my own image a postage stamp in the corner.
‘Stop looking at yourself,’ she said.
‘I’m not,’ I lied.
‘How is your moustache?’ she wondered.
‘In abeyance,’ I lied.
‘Not sure about your new haircut, do you like it?’
‘Yes,’ I lied.
‘Are you still in your pyjamas?’ she said.
‘No,’ I lied.
So that went well.
No one is saying that these new ways of siege communication don’t have their drawbacks, but apparently we must all embrace them, no matter how perilous.
A message pinged onto my phone at about 10pm the other night.
‘Do you want to Houseparty me?’ asked a friend.
Of course I bloody didn’t.
Even though I didn’t know exactly what it was, it sounded ominous — and I was right.
Jan is hoping to see more of the Vicar of Dibley and Absolutely Fabulous from the BBC
The makers say that the Houseparty app allows you to ‘video chat with groups of pals, play games together and more’.
I’m rather worried about that ‘more’ — but if even the Duchess of Cornwall is signed up, it must be above board.
However, sometimes it’s best not to pry, isn’t it?
Especially when it comes to the private behaviours of close friends and royals.
Over the past two weeks, Houseparty has been downloaded more than two million times, while a similar social-distancing app called Kast allows groups to organise vir – tual drinks parties and dinners in ‘your very own virtual living room’.
Thanks, but I’ll be washing my imaginary hair in the virtual bath – room next door, if you don’t mind.
But I want to be honest here.
While I miss my sister, close friends and family, for those of us with a slightly reclusive nature, self-isolation is not without its charms.
The forced cancellation of all social engagements and every single visage-a-visage in the diary for weeks ahead has its undeniable, spirit-lifting upside.
Yet now we have to contend with our phones suddenly becoming weapons of mass communication: a merciless lighthouse beam swinging into your home when you least expect it, a documentary camera poking its nose straight into the cloistered balm of your own precious domesticity.
My fear now is pressing the wrong button on the phone and everyone clocking me in all my egg-stained jumper glory, hair in a bun and watching old clips from The Vicar of Dibley.
But there is no escape. Even at work.
This newspaper is now being produced remotely, with everyone except key technical staff working from home.
Each day we communicate and virtually meet with each other via a conferencing tool called Zoom, which reveals rather interesting glimpses into my colleagues’ home lives and yes, psyches.
There is usually someone, perhaps a more technically deficient workmate, transmitting thickly forested close-ups of their nostrils as they bellow ‘CAN YOU ALL HEAR ME?’ down the line.
Me? I’ve gone for the ‘what, this old thing?’ approach, nonchalantly appearing on Zoom in a take-me seriously blazer, full make-up complete with all-over primer and eyebrow mascara, in front of a shelf groaning with every award and trophy I have ever won in my entire life.
‘What’s that one on the left?’ someone Zoom-asked yesterday.
‘It’s my Brownie Pathfinder Badge,’ I said, looking at my fingernails and trying not to burst with pride.
Boom, Zoom room! The ensuing silence was obvious testament to everyone’s new-found appreciation of my bottomless skills.
Finding a path, indeed. What could be more appropriate in these challenging times as we fumble for – ward into the darkness?
The fact that we are all forging on, being apart together but together apart, bears great testament to the human spirit, to collective responsibility, to resourcefulness and acumen, but most of all to me and my gold cup for Best Knitted Egg Cosy.
CAN YOU ALL HEAR ME ?
Dear BBC, please, please unleash iPlayer box sets of The Vicar of Dibley, starting from the first series. Its innocent nonsense is exactly what we need right now. That and repeats of Absolutely Fabulous.
Before we all congratulate ourselves on how simply marvellous we are all being in this crisis, there are still some horror stories of selfish behaviour out there.
A friend of mine is the lead nurse for five GP practices in West London.
She is also a senior voice within the Clinical Commissioning Group and one of those leading the Covid-19 response in her borough.
She has already had the virus and is back at work. Just another quiet NH S heroine on the front line, deserving of our admiration and respect.
But not everyone thinks so. Yesterday, she took it upon herself to drop off an urgent prescription for a patient at a branch of Boots.
There was a large queue outside, so she went to the front, explained who she was and what she was doing, and why it was imperative for her to return quickly.
The response? ‘Sorry, love, we’ve been waiting, too,’ said those at the front of the queue. Everyone further back agreed.
All were unyielding to her pleas. My exhausted friend shed a few frustrated tears when she got back to her car — without the urgent medicine.
Let’s all send her a virtual hug. And let’s all be careful out there.
Jan is hoping to see less of Gal Gadot and her cringe worthy singing celebrity chums
Dr Who shames the cringey celebrities
Who has made the worst celebrity intervention since the crisis began?
Even aficionados of cringe culture are hard-pushed to decide between Madonna in the bath, Gal Gadot’s pious celebrity singalong of Imagine, Bono writing a coronavirus song called Let Your Love Be Known, and Judi Dench wearing a pair of bunny ears.
All of them hit new heights of buttock-clenching wince. However, I do know who made the very best intervention.
Dr Who actress Jodie Whittaker took it upon herself to broadcast a message in character, from inside her own cupboard, to reassure the Time Lord’s millions of young fans.
‘Here is what I do in any worrying situation.
One: remember, you will get through this and things will be all right, even if they look uncertain,’ she began, going on to urge fans to tell jokes, be kind and look out for each other.
Jodie clearly understands that playing Dr Who brings its own special responsibilities to the nation’s children.
The Peak of Stupidity
Hundreds of Covid-19 infections in Germany, Iceland, Norway and Denmark have now been traced back to the Ischgl skiing resort in the Tyrolean Alps.
Many of the victims visited the popular Kitzloch bar there, which is famed for its après ski parties.
The bar is also notorious for ‘beer pong’ — a drinking game that involves participants taking turns to spit the same ping-pong ball into a beer glass.
Crammed, rammed and sweaty, with people singing and dancing on the tables and waiters delivering endless brimming trays of shots, you could not have had a better home for a virus to thrive and fester.
But please, beer pong?
For God’s sake.
Even back in those golden pre-virus days, when public health was taken for granted, didn’t these idiots have any sense?
Daytime TV host Kirstie Allsop made an impassioned plea for calm on her show
Cap’n Kirstie tells her crew to look lively
When the Battle of Trafalgar was about to commence in 1805, Horatio Nelson sent a famous signal from his flagship HMS Victory to the fleet.
‘England expects that every man will do his duty,’ was the rallying cry greeted with cheers from the sailors.
And today, may I humbly suggest that television star Kirstie Allsopp has done much the same thing?
From the poop deck of the HMS Coronavirus, Kirstie made a stirring address to her family, which I paraphrase below — because it applies to so many other families.
‘Right now,’ she began, ‘life is a ship that we’re sailing in together. Your father and I are the captains and you are the crew — for this is not a democracy.
‘Everyone on board has to understand that we are all sailing in the same boat and that we all have a role to play in keeping things shipshape over the next few months.
‘From henceforth, all over-indulged children here and elsewhere really must accept they cannot behave as passengers; they have to muck in as crew.’
But will the salty little perishers everywhere obey?
In the meantime, let’s embroider Kirstie’s inspiring message across our hearts. Or on our tea towels, at the very least.
Pet shelters and shops have been cleared of animals as people panic-bought pets in the face of lockdown.
In London, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home reported they had rehomed more than double the dogs and cats they did over a similar period last year.
I am thrilled that even their long-term residents have been snapped up.
One dog called Tulip finally found love and a caregiver after 110 days in the kennels. Hurrah for Tulip!
But I hope everyone remembers that a pet is for life — and is also a huge responsibility. Not just to be used as a comfort during a crisis, then discarded.
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