First outing with a face mask

A few days ago, I put on a face mask for the first time. Although much of the rest of the world has been wearing them for weeks (and much longer than that in the case of some nations), here in the UK the habit has been slow to catch on. The official advice hasContinue reading “First outing with a face mask”

Them and us

Yesterday marked the beginning of new measures in England (although not in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) aimed at starting to open up society in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown. The new guidelines are set out in a 50-page document. Broadly, however, the main headlines have been the idea that those living in EnglandContinue reading “Them and us”

A shift in mood

Last night, the UK prime minister addressed the nation, setting out plans for the next phase of the Covid-19 lockdown. Although little is set to change immediately, the speech proved controversial in many quarters, with the leaders of the UK’s three devolved legislatures, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, all refusing to adopt the new governmentContinue reading “A shift in mood”

Are eye-contact rules changing?

When I was studying English literature at university some twenty years ago, I took an optional module called ‘Varieties of English’. Looking at some of the many different forms of my mother tongue around the globe, it explored communication in numerous guises, touching on everything from swearing to body language. I don’t remember much aboutContinue reading “Are eye-contact rules changing?”

The point of no return

When I was growing up, I loved performing in shows. Musicals, comedies, revues and straight plays; angsty contemporary dramas in small rooms and massive extravaganzas. I put myself forward for them all (including Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Company’, from which the song featured above comes). I loved the buzz of the rehearsal room, the discipline of learningContinue reading “The point of no return”

Living in the eye of the storm

In recent days, I have received a number of anxious messages from friends and professional contacts in other parts of the world. How are we managing in the UK? they ask. Am I coping all right? Are things as bad as they sound? Their concern is understandable. The official UK coronavirus death toll now standsContinue reading “Living in the eye of the storm”

Five things that have changed in a month

So here we are: exactly one calendar month since the UK woke up for its first full day under coronavirus lockdown. To mark this milestone, here is a list of five things that have become normal in that time: Being grateful to supermarkets Although the rush of the early days of the lockdown has subsidedContinue reading “Five things that have changed in a month”

The need to be seen to be doing things (or please click like)

Since social-distancing measures came into effect in the UK in March, my timelines have been full of impressive things. There have been countless pictures of homemade sourdough loaves, lovingly tended gardens and impressive craft projects, and films of exquisite musical performances. There have also been a whole host of pledges, promises and statements of intent.Continue reading “The need to be seen to be doing things (or please click like)”

A new relationship with death?

Years ago, when my other half was working there for several months, I spent a week in Malawi, in southern Africa. The visit was thrilling and challenging in equal measure: in my short time in the country, I was bombarded with new experiences, new foods, and assumptions and ways of living that were very differentContinue reading “A new relationship with death?”