Telly, Reading and Zooming
Published on: Sunday, November 22, 2020
By: Sylvia Howe
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YOU thought I’d left, didn’t you? Well, I’m still here, and hoping to get on a plane or two on 6th December.  And spend Christmas with some of my family across the oceans, and tidy my garden (like Candide) and get the roof fixed. Lots to do, and I am itching to get on with it. Coming back now. That will prove a challenge. I have not yet decided when – quarantine in a hotel is putting me off, and I hope that that will change and I will be able to keep myself to myself in my apartment instead. 

Good Zooming

Lockdown gives you lots of thinking time, doesn’t it? And telly time, and reading time and Zooming time. Zoom, for all its drawbacks, is a boon. I complain, but if this was a mere, what, 10 years ago, maybe even less, it would be telephone and letters so let’s be grateful.

Zoom allows us to keep in touch and also to work. But it can go too far, and we need to be alert.

There are horror stories of course, like the gentleman in the US who thought he was off camera and behaved in a way that got him the sack sharpish.Thank goodness. I’m glad I wasn’t on that call.

My suggestions – do with them as you will – are as follows:

1  Brush your hair. 

2 Wear something comfortable, of course, but do not loll about in ill-fitting pyjamas or house dress or whatever those shapeless things are called. 

3 Women, put on some make-up. It makes you feel better, whatever the others are doing.

4 Keep a bottle of water by you, and drink it. When it is finished, get up and refill it.

5 Get up and move about. Don’t sit still for hours on end. It’s not good for you

6 Look out at nature, have a plant in your room (I have mine on my balcony just outside) and go for a walk if you can (following the rules).

7 Don’t eat too much, and don’t eat while on a call

These apply to Zooming and working at the computer, and even lying on the sofa reading. Don’t descend into your polished warthog impersonation. Do try to make yourself feel like a human being instead. 

The E word comes into its own here. Exercise. Now we are able to undertake non-contact sports, let’s do it. Make your heart beat faster, break into a sweat. It clears the head and makes you feel better immediately. And gives you that glorious smug glow that allows you to open that chocolate packet with an – almost – clear conscience. Beware the Covid 10 (kilos that is). They creep on, and stick. Not easy to get off, so I urge you to keep alert. Like I haven’t!

Best foot forward

I have discovered a real chiropodist in KK. A podiatrist, if you will. I go in with feet cracked and fissured, nails ragged and digging in, and after an hour with her, I emerge walking on air, or at least on soft soles, with nails nicely tidy.  Christina at Karamunsing, on the first floor,  is all I’m going to say, because I don’t want her diary to get so full I can’t be squeezed in!  She is already busy enough, and it was only yesterday that I found out that she gives good foot massage too, but only if she has time.  


Oh my, how television has come into its own.  I am watching The Crown (why wouldn’t I). I love it, although I am very aware that it is not a documentary, unlike so many people on Twitter who are shocked that there should be some invented scenes. Nobody was in meetings between Diana and Charles, the Queen and her family, Princess Anne and Prince Philip, so of course there is more than an element of creativity. 

The grumble that has most amused me is the gentleman from the Daily Telegraph who felt so strongly about the portrayal of Charles’s – no, not behaviour to his wife or to Camilla P-B, or to his role in the monarchy, oh no – that he had to write a letter to the Editor. It was his fishing. It was apparently very definitely below par. 

The acting is pretty good quality; the main characters do a good job. Emma Corrin as Diana is impressive, as I think is Josh O’Connor as Charles – he gets his stoop right, and the voice. All the voices are pretty good, aren’t they? Not easy to avoid caricature, but on the whole I think they manage it. 

I enjoyed the fairly brief appearance of Razzle the priest, played by the ubiquitous Tom Burke (Cormoran Strike and also Athos in the Musketeers). Camilla and Diana’s lunch together was predictably squirmy. The real Michael Fagin, the Palace intruder, says the depiction wasn’t that accurate but I didn’t object – amusingly, he said he was more handsome than the actor who played him, Tom Brooke.  He has a point, although none of us would be as superficial as that, would we?  

I do, however, have a problem with the tiny Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher.  

Now that’s a voice to put you off your breakfast. It never changes. It is low and mannered, and goes very well with her total lack of humour and any interest in anything but her job. I am sure she was totally focussed on changing the country but Anderson is one-dimensional and unfortunately too small. Rather Spitting Image for me.Thatcher was not large, but when Anderson walks in to the Palace on her thin little legs, she doesn’t look to me like the woman who took on the miners and South African sanctions. 

Re tiny, apparently all the Royals are small. I’ve met Princess Anne and felt like the Colossus of Rhodes beside her. William and Harry got their height from their mother. When I worked at Vogue, Diana would come in at the beginning of her time in the spotlight to get advice on choosing some of her clothes; for the record, she was tall and slim (and very smiley and polite, even to me, a nobody in the sub-editors’ room).  

The Queen’s Gambit is another show that really is worth a watch. Not always comfortable, the art direction and design is wonderful – absolutely faithful to the Fifties and the main 

And then there’s Strictly Come Dancing, which it is fashionable to despise at the moment, it seems. I catch up on You Tube, which shows the dances, which is what I watch it for. I love watching someone start off a bit clodhoppy, and evolve with hard work and training into someone who can really pull of a stylish cha cha or waltz or jive or whatever. You can keep the paso doble, which is a bit silly and flouncy for me, but the rest is a perfect antidote to the occasional gloom that descends when you haven’t been able to go to a restaurant with friends for several weeks. 

This week, the comedian Bill Bailey (not in his first youth, with straggly long grey hair at the back of his head and a face not even his mother could say was conventionally handsome) was absolutely BRILLIANT in his street dance with the gorgeous Oti Mabuse. They were sharp and detailed and stylish and a joy to watch – and improve every week, like many of the other contestants. I also like Caroline Quentin. I HOPE one of them wins, although I expect the Great British Public will go for someone younger and prettier.  Let’s see. 


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