It’s been a weird and bleak final week of Ramadan and I wouldn’t wish this uneasy melancholy on anyone. How do you really celebrate a moment specially designed for togetherness during All This?
Prepping for Eid this weekend has been fraught. A vague plan to socially distance in a park with my brother was scrapped even before it was really articulated. The realisation that none of my family would be sharing the day by eating and annoying each other to the nth degree has been bizarrely slow to hit.
Like everyone else, we will dress up and make do with laggy video calls; the obligatory still of my dad’s forehead, boisterous grandkids in and out of shot, me screeching at everyone to take it in turn to speak.
Of course it’s not the same. And, of course, we should be grateful for everything we do have and I am – we all are – but lockdown has had a particular way of strobe-lighting sentimentality around big occasions. It’s grossly maudlin and all-encompassing and it made me spend two hours trawling Etsy for appealing Eid decorations to brighten up the flat. (Let me save you 119 minutes: there aren’t any.)
Neither can I stop thinking about the cousins I haven’t seen in so long. The ones I grew up with and the ones who made my Eids. Or the fact that my parents have just marked their 49th wedding anniversary, loved up but without any of their five children near them. It’s too much. It doesn’t necessarily take extreme circumstances for one to extremely appreciate family, but the perspective helps. Personally, I can’t wait to get up close to them all and revel, as is my birth-given right, in being a bratty little sister again. In the meantime, Eid Mubarak.
It’s not every day you’re asked to give an interview for German television about your great pal Naomi Campbell (translation: I interviewed her once). And so I ended up as a talking head on a segment about the model’s 50th birthday last week. Bitte! If glamour can be achieved by proxy, then this was easily the most dazzling portion of a day otherwise set to blur into the next one.
Naomi Campbell: Conveying glamour by proxy. Photograph: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images
I mention this to relay the sheer awkwardness of the endeavour: the crew arrived, we filmed outside, socially distanced in a triangle, masks and hand sanitisers at the ready. But living in Hackney, east London, next door to a house that has been Russian-dolled into 13 bedsits with 13 different kinds of noise, a car alarm ringing throughout, did present something of a challenge. I felt sorry for the journalist, but realised it’s also exactly why I’ve avoided watching anything made for broadcast since the new rules came into play.
Who wants to watch TV made by Zoom, or framed with prominent socially distant markers for everyone involved? Thankfully for the television industry, lots of people! For me, not so much. Catching an accidental glimpse of Have I Got News For You, trying so hard with discombobulated heads and stilted patter, was a uniquely dispiriting experience so I’m bypassing all of it for now. If it doesn’t let me escape the current reality, then right now it’s not for me.