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On my first proper night out after lockdown I get a marriage proposal

Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd
21 July 2021

ondon’s social scene has suddenly burst into life this week having lain dormant for almost 18 months. My diary is stuffed full of big parties and book launches and even though I should be jumping for joy, my anxiety is through the roof. I love a party. I live for a good time, but suddenly I felt highly nervous about something which was so basic. And I’m not the only one.

Monday was this paper’s big summer party. It was at a swanky hotel, there would be lots of people I knew and loved and there would be the nicest drinks on tap. Yet I found myself paralysed by fear, counting down the hours. And my phone buzzed with friends who were feeling the same way. It wasn’t so much about getting Covid, because people would have had lateral flow tests or were double jabbed, it was the whole business of being social again and not looking and behaving like a total weirdo in public.

First there was what to wear — or more realistically — what can one still fit into? As I struggled to get into various dresses in the 30C heat of my flat, I vowed I would use the next lockdown to fight the flab. And get an air conditioning unit. My phone was pinging — thankfully not from the NHS app — but from panicking female friends going “What you wearing?”, “Help! My arse looks like a small region in these trousers” and “Could I get away with leggings, a vast top and a chunky necklace?”. I plumped for the middle-aged art teacher look. One of my friends went for a kaftan quipping that she could read fortunes later in the evening.

Then there were the attempts at “glam” make-up, which resembled some of the less successful contestants on Drag Race and then got rather smeared by the face mask in the sweltering Uber. My strong tip: when the Met issues an extreme weather warning, step away from the contour brush. Leave it. It’s not worth it.

But it was more than just how we looked. How would we carry ourselves? Would we remember the art of small talk? Did we still have banter? What if no one wanted to chat to us? What if I dribbled all down my front? (This actually happened). It was like being a nerdy teenager going to your first event. But thankfully, once we got there and entered the fray, all nerves dissolved when on arrival there were so many friendly faces and so much pent-up joy being released. I was immediately surrounded by old friends who all shared their own tales of mid-life social anxiety. In the end, it was a wonderful night which reminded me that it doesn’t matter what you look like, what you wear or how anxious you feel, your old pals just want to see you. And despite all my paranoia, I even got a marriage proposal and someone asked me to have a baby with them. Either my make-up was way better than I gave myself credit for or it’s a testament to how lonely lockdown has been. Or just how strong the cocktails were. You decide.

Prince Harry has the right to set the record straight

It’s Have A Go At Harry Day. Again. His latest crime of heinous proportion is to write a book. A literary memoir to provide readers with a first-hand account of his life. His many critics have gone into overdrive. How dare he? Well, he has every right to set the record straight and tell his own story. Who cares? Oh please. All these critics will be falling over themselves to read it and tear it apart. And if it’s going to be so rubbish and boring, why dedicate so many column inches to it? Bring it on, Harry. And in your words.

Are you feeling anxious about socialising? Let us know in the comments below.