Jane Wenham-Jones: Lockdown lowdown – Time to stick my thumbs in my mouth and shout aaaghh

Facelift on FaceTime

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 has 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 that 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! x



  1. I can’t help but feel this is a little tone deaf in these times. Here we are with the world seemingly on fire and an awakening with regards to the way minorities are being treated and here is this over-privileged white woman talking about just how difficult things are for her at the moment in her charmed life.

  2. I love Isle of Thanet News but this piece seems a bit ignorant in light of all that is going on in the world. Do we need to hear from another rich white person enjoying an easy life while the majority of us in Thanet and across the world are struggling? I wish her the best but, as a key worker, I’d rather her use her platform to raise awareness, if she is as grateful to those on the frontline as she says. Also, the world is ablaze with the fight against racism right now, and we’re hearing instead about the difficulties of not having a face massage? Silence – or in this case, drivel – is complicit in the continued oppression of black people. Use your platform to raise awareness, not complain about your many blessings.

  3. Don’t read it then Snowflakes. I enjoyed the piece so don’t seek to curtail the right to publish or the right to read.

  4. Thank you for reading me and for taking the time to comment. This column was conceived to be light-hearted/tongue-in-cheek in these strange times, and it didn’t feel appropriate to write about something so serious in amongst the frivolous. Particularly as a privileged white woman. That doesn’t mean I don’t care deeply or I am not utterly appalled by recent hideous events. Or that I don’t find your observations valid. I participated in my first anti-racism awareness conference more than thirty years ago, when I was working with ethnic minorities in adult education, and I have never forgotten it. Thank you again for reading. And I’m glad you enjoyed it, Richard 🙂

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