Time to stick my thumbs in my mouth and shout AaRGGHH

*Photo: My facelift on FaceTime

First published in the Isle of Thanet News of Friday 5th June 2020

Week 10 of Jane Wenham-Jones’ Lockdown


Housework Day comes under threat when the Dyson stops working. “Broken!” cries my son jubilantly, ready to down tools and return to his weekend position on the sofa. I unscrew a couple of bits, blow down a few openings, remove the filter, bash it hard on the side of the sink and put it all back together and Lo – we have a vacuum cleaner once more. I can see my son is trying to hide how impressed – and disappointed – he is. “See?” I say in triumph. “I am not entirely stupid and useless, after all.”

“No,” he agrees. “Not entirely.”


Following my lament about a lack of hotel slippers, I receive a message from Di Holland, one-time inspirational head of St Joseph’s Primary School, offering to share her own stash. The next morning, her smiling spouse appears two metres from my doorstep proffering several pairs. I remember him extremely well but have one of those moments of brain-mush. My son was schooled under Di’s headship – for which I am forever grateful – so I turn to him. “Can you remember the name of Mrs Holland’s husband?” I ask, without undue hope.

“Of course I can,” he says instantly. “It’s Mr Holland…” * 


I am sitting in front of my computer, in a pair of those gloves favoured by gynaecologists. My thumbs are rammed inside my mouth as I try to poke myself in the jaw. Michaella Bolder – facialist to the stars (and occasionally me)  – is in a window at the top of the screen, laughing a lot. “You can’t really do that to yourself,” she says, “but we can try some massage…”

I’ve managed a work-round for most of my personal maintenance during lockdown – I’ve bought an epilator, coloured my own hair and found my nails have improved without varnish – but there is no substitute for Michaella’s unique ability to lift a drooping visage from within. She is so good that when she’s worked on one side, I always worry she will faint or be called away by an urgent phone call, and others will think I’ve had a stroke. (Check her out on michaellabolder.com or her Instagram account to see her in action.)  

My face is beginning to sag badly without her ministrations, so she is going to talk me through what to do, via FaceTime. It is hard work. We do lymphatic drainage of the neck, sculpting of the jaw and a lot of sweeping movements from the mouth under the cheekbones to the ears. “Keep moving,” Michaella instructs, “so the muscle doesn’t have time to relax.” I don’t have time to either. By the time I am having to wrap my arms around my head – to get under the opposite cheekbone – they are starting to drop off. 

It is not quite the same experience as lying back under a soft warm towel while Michaella works her fingers to the bone – this girl has digits of iron ­– but even the do-it-yourself version starts to show results. “You’re looking nice and pink,” she says encouragingly when I have begun to resemble a boiled ham. “Now do that every day.”


Remarkably, for someone who has the radio on from dawn and thought she was a news junkie, I had missed the fact that the clapping stopped last week. I arrive in a grey, windy street to find it deserted. I give a last lone clap since I’m there and because I will never stop feeling awe and gratitude towards all who have been on the frontline in all this. I then score only 4 points in the news round of the Paul Clayton/Richard Howle weekly quiz. I clearly need to listen to the radio too…

Working from home observation of the week

Now my dining room is an office (not kept much tidier than the incumbent’s bedroom – a long-standing no-go zone for anyone half-civilised), I have a daily opportunity to keep abreast of the latest terminology from the cut and thrust of modern business, as snippets of conference calls float my way.

As I make my coffee in the adjoining kitchen, and they are gaining visibility and aligning their going-forward achievables, with a view to the deployment of strategic actions, I am reminded of the enjoyable game I used to play with friends whenever we found ourselves sharing a hotel bar with a contingent of salesmen. Anyone for Bullshit Bingo?

Footnote*: It’s Alan. Thank you both! Xx


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