Under lockdown, what have you liked the least– or the most?
Zooming, maybe? Just like live theatre– which, in a way, it is– the magic of the Zoom back view lies in the very real possibility of disaster. Remember Professor Robert Kelly’s BBC TV interview gatecrashed by his young daughter dancing into the room? Many parents working from home during the national lockdown have grown accustomed to their children interrupting virtual work meetings, but most don’t have it happen during live news interviews.
The newly-appointed UK shadow chancellor was recently upstaged by her three-year-old daughter while speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News. Maybe these new breakfast conferences should be renamed: who’s free for a 7.30am ‘Meetabix’? Even the PM isn’t immune. Boris recently took part in a chaotic video conference call with backbench Tory MPs. Many of the 147 MPs forgot to mute their devices, so Boris’s address was interrupted by barking dogs, ringing phones and what sounded like someone moving furniture. Together with a Zoom parliament, our lockdown lives are being played out against a backdrop of bookshelves, furniture and, umm, kitchen cupboards.
I rather enjoyed, for instance, seeing the Archbishop of Canterbury in his own kitchen. And, yes, a lot of care went into positioning the cameras where we couldn’t see any crumbs or dirty crockery, but we’re starting to see ‘experts’, politicians and archbishops as real people with a real life– which is refreshing, though sometimes embarrassing. Recently a New Zealand city council met via Zoom, and veteran councillor David Benson-Pope caused a stir when caught unawares walking into his book-lined study with bare legs carrying, of all things… a feather duster! For gawpers everywhere, with everybody skyping, face-timing and zooming everybody else, there are windows now into people’s homes unprecedented in the history of gawping.
So Prince Charles’s backdrop revealed Dick Francis novels and a small teddy bear. Gwyneth Paltrow had a neon pink Tracey Emin artwork. And Mick Jagger’s backdrop was… tapestries and traditional wood panelling. Mick, who would have thought?
Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Betrayal’, ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.net) available online as an ebook (€0.99;£0.99), i-book, paperback & audiobook.
All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity