ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: Let me out… I can't face another Zoom dinner!

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN’S NOTEBOOK: Let me out… I really can’t face another Zoom dinner!

It used to be so simple. Your friends were people you liked to hang out with. People you found interesting and had a laugh with.

There were some you saw regularly and others less frequently but the key qualification for friendship was whether you enjoyed their company.

Now, though, everything is different. Now we have to put our friends through a vetting process worthy of MI6 recruitment, to gauge their suitability for being allowed into our presence.

I’m craving one of those long nights when everyone is together just enjoying each other’s company so much that you forget it’s a work day in the morning. That never happens on Zoom [File photo]

The bafflingly complex rules over exactly who you can mingle with and where as lockdown eases have left most of us deciding we’d best work out who it is safe to see using that oft-quoted commodity – common sense. 

But in this new world there’s nothing common about how different people calculate the appropriateness of the company they will keep.

None of us knows who other people might have come into contact with. Who else have they seen? Are they travelling around? 

What about those with grown-up kids living back at home who, if London is anything to go by, have been gathering in carnival-like throngs on city pavement and in parks? 

And how vulnerable do we ourselves feel? The whole thing is enough to put you off seeing anyone at all.

Which perhaps is the intention of such unfathomable guidelines.

Now we have to put our friends through a vetting process worthy of MI6 recruitment, to gauge their suitability for being allowed into our presence [File photo]

I’m determined to see my friends in the flesh again. Who’s prepared to join me, though, is less clear. Many of them have headed off to the country and don’t plan to return any time soon. Others have reasons to be strictly shielding. A few still feel dinner is a step into the unknown too far.

And there are those I live with who are more generally cautious than me and not champing at the bit to resume an interesting social life.

But personally I’ve had enough Zoom dinners, with everyone talking over each other, to last me a lifetime. I’m craving one of those long nights when everyone is together just enjoying each other’s company so much that you forget it’s a work day in the morning.

That never happens on Zoom.

Is there a second mystery virus?

Move over Covid-19. There’s a new virus in town. Or so it appears. I know a number of people who have forked out for private antibody tests over the past few weeks. 

They were all utterly convinced they had contracted coronavirus at some point and wanted to find out if they might now have some degree of immunity.

They had suffered various symptoms – extreme exhaustion, persistent coughs, loss of taste and smell, headaches and a variety of aches and pains. 

Most of them are women. Some still don’t feel 100 per cent after weeks.

None of them, though, had a high fever. And all of them have been hugely disappointed to discover they have tested negative for antibodies, so feel their weeks of self-isolation were pointless.

Which prompts the question: if they didn’t have Covid-19, what did they have? Is there another mystery virus? 

And how many people are there running around the place who aren’t able to take advantage of private testing and who probably think they have had the coronavirus, and imagine because of that they have immunity – when they haven’t?

Susanna Reid has written about how much she is missing her Good Morning Britain glam squad

Susanna’s queen of low-spec glamour

Susanna Reid has written about how much she is missing her Good Morning Britain glam squad.

I can imagine it’s stressful having to do her own hair and make-up, particularly pre-dawn, but she manages to look terrific and suits the slightly lower-spec appearance, as do many of our female presenters.

Hopefully, when everything is back up and running, they won’t revert back to the more artificial Stepford Wife style that the regular TV make-up teams lean towards.

Forget the hair – I need a pedi pronto!

We may not all share the demands of TV presenters, but like most women and quite a few men I’m definitely missing my hairdresser.

However, the thing I’m missing even more is a professional pedicure. I’ve never been one for regular beauty treatments but having nice feet and immaculately painted toes is my indulgence of choice.

I don’t know why I care so much about my feet since even in the summer they are hardly the most visible part of the body. But I do.

So why in a few days’ time will I be able to get a cut and colour for my hair but not for my nails? Like so many of these restrictions, it makes absolutely no sense.

Gucci greed… or a great investment?

A woman’s relationship with her handbag is highly personal. It can also be pretty lucrative. 

Prices of the most desirable vintage Hermes and Chanel bags are outperforming those of art and classic cars, and even some new bags are being resold at double their original price.

Over the past year, Hermes Birkin bags have risen 42 per cent at auction, an Art Market research report reveals, while designer resale site Vestiaire Collective has a Birkin 35 listed for £9,100.

Maybe that’s why Gucci feels justified in hiking the price of its new bags by nine per cent, which in the current climate struck me as plain greedy. Clearly they don’t think a pandemic will diminish the number of people happy to spend more than £2,000 on a handbag.

As the daughter of a critic, theatre has always been part of my life. The magic of the first bars of music, the lights going down and the curtain rising still gives me the same childish thrill they did when, as kids, we were taken annually to see Peter Pan.

The thought of all the theatres, previously places of communal experience, and now ghostly, dark, mothballed spaces, is utterly miserable. 

It’s a terrible time for the hundreds of thousands of people involved in the performing arts but they’re working hard to find ways to bring us the words, music and dance that are the most human of pleasures. And which have always been a part of civilisation. We need to support them.

We may not be able to take our seat in the gods or the stalls but it’s time to play our part. Don’t decide to stay in and watch another Netflix episode or three. 

Instead, buy a ticket to something like Claire Foy and Matt Smith’s two-hander Lungs, being live-streamed from an empty Old Vic, and help save our performing arts community.

Don’t decide to stay in and watch another Netflix episode or three. Instead, buy a ticket to something like Claire Foy and Matt Smith’s two-hander Lungs, being live-streamed from an empty Old Vic

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