As a secret introvert, I have been wondering for weeks whether I am only afraid of the return of a social life.
The pressure to turn up. The timekeeping. Being around (whispering) from other people. I’m just not ready.
As millions of people flocked to pubs and restaurants on Saturday night, I curled up on my couch and watched the Broadway musical Hamilton on TV.
You see, after all this time that I sat at home in the evening, I have forgotten the art of socializing. Last weekend I went to my first dinner in months in the beautiful garden of friends – just a handful of us.
Susanna Reid (pictured) revealed that lockdown has made her fear of going out much worse, admitting she’s always had to drag herself to fancy parties
Shortly after accepting the invitation, I had a completely unknown feeling. What on earth would I wear? Since I went ‘out, out’ for the first time in four months, I felt I should try my best. But being dressed to eat in the garden? That felt exaggerated.
I got caught up in thinking about and trying out outfits with bags, and even considered heels for a moment. In the end pragmatism won and I just chose a sundress, with a bottle of hand sanitizer. Once there, the conversation went the same way as all conversations now – the people we knew and who had broken the rules; the way our plans were thwarted by Covid. I forgot what we were talking about at parties.
Frankly, a week later I wasn’t ready to go out again. So my social contact on ‘super’ Saturday consisted of going to mom’s flat for a cup of tea and a catch-up above the kitchen table.
Lockdown made my FOGO – fear of going out – much worse. I’ve always had to drag myself to fancy parties and steal myself to walk into a busy room. The pop of the red carpet camera lights might look nice, but I’m making a quick sprint on the celebrity catwalk, worrying if the photographers caught an unflattering angle or a gust of wind chasing my fake ponytail .
Once, outside of the National Television Awards, I turned into a windy mess when my hairpieces and secret clips were uncovered – not the polished photo you want to see in the papers the next morning. Once inside, I just find a familiar face and cling to it like a limpet. My GMB colleagues know that as soon as I spy on them, they get stuck.
Susanna said the photos of hundreds of people crammed together in Soho last Saturday made her skin crawl (file image)
But now it’s been a century since my makeup artist came to my doorstep for a big night out, her trolley full of lotions, drinks, hairpieces, fake lashes and spray tan. The last star-studded event I showed up for was on Tuesday March 10 at the TRIC (Television and Radio Industries) awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel. Artfully tousled hair? To check. Painted face? To check. Fitted red satin dress? To check.
It feels like 100 years ago, but the photos are still online with their flattering captions: “The form-fitting dress showed her slender curves and emphasized her toned and tanned pins.” It’s a description that now makes me laugh out loud as I’ve stacked up on the Covid 10lb and my weekly spray tans are a distant memory.
Gossip in the air
Gary Barlow told GMB Take That is the first movie to be released next year. But I was distracted by the background of his Zoom call. Known for his teen idol uniform of denim and dungarees, I was disappointed to find that his wardrobe now only includes suits and shirts. He reminded me that even teenage hearts grow up.
Honestly? I am so happier. My job means wearing a dressy outfit and a full face of makeup every day, even in lockdown. But it’s such a relief to take it all off after the show and know that there’s no second wind to be found at the other end of the day, putting the harness on again.
I always went to work in my pajamas or wide sweatpants. Now I change back to it when I finish work at 9am, barely moving until bedtime.
Obviously, I’ve become allergic to other people – those photos of hundreds crammed together in Soho last Saturday made my flesh creep. Yes, I would love to see Hamilton again someday and I was relieved to hear about the government’s emergency aid package for the arts.
But I don’t want to be anywhere near theatergoers and their rustling sweet papers.
Fortunately, I’m not the only celebrity hermit. I was once lucky enough to attend dinner with the world’s most glamorous chef, Nigella Lawson. Flawless in appearance, sparkling in conversation, she was absolutely captivating.
So I was amused to see that she, too, finds the prospect of coming back to life as we once knew it, discouraging and intending to follow a 5: 2 diet ‘with people instead of food’ . She spends five days in beautiful isolation and sees other faces only two days a week.
I’m going one step further and selfishly aiming for the 6: 1 social diet – with just one day a week stealing myself to face the social whirl.
If only for a cup of tea with mom.
Ding dong, the witch’s hair is gone!
Susanna who hadn’t cut her hair since November has revised her appearance after visiting Richard Ward, hairdresser of the Duchess of Cambridge. Pictured left: before. Shown right: Na
Finally, my long, arduous, dry ends are gone – wiped out by the genius of Richard Ward, hairdresser of the Duchess of Cambridge. What’s good enough for royalty is good enough for me!
While many had waited almost four months for a trim while checking my diary, I realized I hadn’t had a cut since November and looked positively witchy. He cut away split ends enough to take pounds from the extra weight on the scales – I feel so much lighter.
I briefly toyed with the idea of sticking to my new longer locks, but when they’re dry, split and desperate out of shape, a good haircut almost makes you feel like you’ve been on vacation.
How I long to give my dear friend Kate a hug as she returns to work
Susanna said she wanted to wrap her arms around Kate Garraway (pictured) when she walked back to the GMB studio, but instead smiled from a safe distance
When Kate Garraway walked back into the GMB studio yesterday, it was a pleasure to see my old friend.
She greeted the crew warmly, clearly happy to be back in the workplace where she thrives, but her return was saddened for all of us. Since her husband Derek was still seriously ill in the hospital because of the Covid-19 aftereffects, I wanted to put my arms around her. Instead, we had to smile at each other from a safe distance. More cruelly, she told us that due to safety guidelines, she still can’t go to the hospital to hug Derek. Kate has been such an inspiration – at every stage she acknowledges how happy she is that her husband remains alive when so many have lost loved ones. But it is a long way.
Derek would be so proud of everything she did to give him the best care, to deal with his absence and to create a new normal for their children. She will be sitting at her desk on Monday and I will be so proud to see her back in the job we both love.
A life in Fun takeaways
Susanna said she’s happy that Pret and his healthy choices are still with us even though the chain needs to get slimmer
Sad news of Pret closings. Via the menu I can map my eating habits. Early on I was tempted by lemon tart and a latte for a morning snack. When the calorie count appeared, my health kick meant I switched to dark chocolate rice chocolate and black coffee. Breakfast went from a chocolate croissant to porridge, then the coconut and quinoa option. Lunch was an avocado and crayfish sandwich chock full of mayonnaise, but to cut calories you had to replace it with a breadless sandwich. I’m glad Pret and his healthy choices are still with us, even if the chain has to lose weight itself.