SUSANNA REID: I used to hate them, but video calls are a lifeline

From red carpet to real life… SUSANNA REID: I used to hate them, but video calls are a lifeline from me to mum

  • Susanna Reid said she loves talking to her mother over FaceTime as she cooks
  • She said she goes through her set of newspapers with her mother every day
  • Presenter said she has bought cookbook Homemade Takeaways by Rob Allison

Pre-lockdown, it used to alarm me — the staccato, morse code-style ringing that heralded a FaceTime call. ‘Who on earth is accidentally FaceTiming me?’ would be my immediate reaction.

I found video calling intrusive. Those I used to receive would always be ‘pocket call’ mistakes, swiftly followed by a text message ‘Sorry, think I accidentally FaceTimed you!’

What a relief, I’d think. Warn me in advance so I can get my face on. The thought of someone seeing me in my natural habitat, the way I really looked, would send a shudder down my spine. 

Susanna Reid said how she looks doesn’t matter and video calls are more important than vanity

That blow-dryed sleekness and full make-up takes an hour to apply, and doesn’t last all day.

But oh, how things have changed. Now, when we can’t see each other in person, we are all becoming FaceTime fans, Skype broadcasters, Zoom conferencers and WhatsApp video callers. 

No wonder Zoom has gone from 10 million video meetings a day to 200 million and is now worth an astonishing £33 billion.

And to hell with how we look when a call comes in. With roots coming through, and stocks of tinted moisturiser running low, I’ve realised it doesn’t matter; these calls are too important to worry about vanity. 

Without hugs seeing a face on a screen carries a weight of meaning and emotion.

I just want to look at my loved ones, face to face. Real, honest and connected, warts and all. 

At the start of lockdown I was determined to keep up appearances both at work and on home video calls, but I’ve realigned my priorities.

We are disconnected from each other, but that moment of contact — even if we can’t touch — means we are revealing our real selves. In the past I didn’t even like phone calls. 

Like many people I didn’t have a spare 20 minutes to catch up with friends, so I was more of a text and WhatsApp communicator. 

But now I have all the time in the world, just to chat to a dearly loved face.

With Mum unable to go out and buy the newspaper, I have been video calling her each morning and going through my set of papers with her. 

Of course, she could read them online, but it’s a lovely activity to share.

In it together

Intensive care nurse Jodi Leigh feels safer working in a hospital than going shopping, and fears for the key workers keeping us all fed. 

Supermarkets should make aisles one-way so there’s no risk of shoppers bumping into staff. 

It will make shopping slower, but patience is a virtue we need now.

There’s a more relaxed nature to a video, too. Any pauses on a normal voice call prompt the anxious cry of ‘have I lost you?’ But with video calling I sit the phone on my kitchen counter while I potter about doing the evening meal, with long pauses tolerated in the same way as if Mum was in the room with me.

Hands-free and drifting in and out of shot, I’ll ask her for tips on the dishes I’m making, and she can show me the seedlings she’s growing, ready for when she returns to her allotment.

It’s a godsend for work, too. When I went into isolation a week before the national lockdown, Skype meant I could still join the Good Morning Britain team, even if it was from the sofa in my kitchen.

Now, all of our guests on the show are video calls. We email them a handy guide on how to do it properly — beginning with turning the phone to landscape, so the picture fills a normal television screen. 

Don’t place your phone or laptop face up on the table so viewers see right up your nostrils. 

Put it on a pile of books and look straight into the lens to avoid the multiple chin view and to help make a direct connection with the audience .

There is also a desperately serious side to this. Video calling has become the way many families keep in contact with loved ones they can’t visit in hospital. In the most desperate moments, it has sometimes been the only way to say goodbye ‘face to face’.

The overwhelming kindness of medical staff who can hold a phone up, so those at home can share loving messages, is a crumb of solace to families torn apart.

Many viewers were moved to tears when farmer Hylton Murray-Philipson, recovering from Covid-19 in his hospital bed, described watching his 92-year-old father’s funeral on a screen.

It’s terrible that there are some who we won’t see again. But thank goodness for the ways we can continue to see the faces of our loved ones, even while we are apart. I welcome that staccato beeping of FaceTime — and it’s now never a mistake. 

Withnail and I? Gimme gimme Mamma Mia!   

In recovery, Boris watched Withnail and I — a black comedy about two unemployed actors who have a miserable holiday in the Lake District. 

I have never seen it, but I could recommend much sunnier options.

My choices would be the riotous joy of Meryl Streep, (pictured with Christine Baranski), singing her heart out on a Mediterranean island in Mamma Mia!, the sarcastic sass of Anna Kendrick in a capella competition comedy Pitch Perfect and the hilarious Bridesmaids with Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy.

All of them the perfect tonic.

Meryl Streep, (pictured with Christine Baranski), sings her heart out on a Mediterranean island in Mamma Mia!

Missing celebrity parties doesn’t bother me. They’re far from fun 

I see Amanda Holden, pictured, has continued to dress up in her finest to do her chores, to replace the glamorous parties she’s missing.

But I don’t miss red carpet events. Alexa Chung bemoaned the fact that celebrity parties can be quite lonely — and she would beg people like the Beckhams to stand with her so she didn’t stick out. 

I know how she feels. The problem with these events is that you are rattling around in a sea of faces that are easy to recognise but hard to talk to. 

Seeing me lost on the red carpet once, singer Camilla Kerslake — with her boyfriend Chris Robshaw — grabbed my hand and hissed ‘pretend you’re with us’ as we traipsed past the photographers.

Social distancing means that celebrity parties and gatherings are still a long way off, but I’m not in the least bit bothered about them starting up again.

Amanda Holden, pictured, has continued to dress up in her finest to do her chores, to replace the glamorous parties she’s missing 

Try a DIY takeaway 

Concerns about how takeaways are delivered in lockdown may drive you to consider making your own at home.

Right on time, I have bought a brilliant new cookbook Homemade Takeaways by food guru Rob Allison that comes recommended by domestic goddess Nigella Lawson.

It has chapters on Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian food (among others) and a section on desserts which includes my favourite Black Forest Gateau, which I did once order as a takeaway from posh London restaurant Delaunay, so definitely counts.

Susannah has bought Homemade Takeaways by food guru Rob Allison. It was recommended by domestic goddess Nigella Lawson

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