The Londoner: One day at a time for David Nicholls e-vents

Finding the silver lining: David Nicholls (Photo: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for PSIFF): Getty Images for PSIFF

One Day author David Nicholls says he hopes to keep his popular digital book launches alive, although “it has become harder” for some bookshops to get books to readers as a trip to the Post Office “isn’t as easy as it was a few days ago”.

Nicholls tells The Londoner his project is “under review”, but adds: “I do want to continue to acknowledge authors’ achievements.” The screenwriter behind the TV adaptation of Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels has begun a series of virtual book launches as the coronavirus crisis has worsened. In his first one last week, Nicholls (left) offered “weirdly sweet sausages, mini burgers and, if you stand by the door over there, those tiny Yorkshire pudding things”.

But there’s a serious side to the parties, Nicholls explains.

“You spend years in a room by yourself and you slip out into the world and suddenly there’s no one there.” Parties give “moments away from the desk, a chance to thank the people who’ve worked on the book, thank the readers and for debut authors there’s a sort of ceremonial aspect — ‘I have published. I’m in print.’”

The response to his initiative has been “overwhelming”, Nicholls says. “Most of my day is spent collating lists of publication dates.” He says he sees the temporary future as “online events and Q&As with authors” run by writers and publishers. Reflecting on how things were “incredibly tough for writers in all fields”, Nicholls added: “It’s terrible for a city to close its theatres and concert halls and bookshops. It takes the life out of it. Books you can always read, but what’s the isolated equivalent of going to the theatre?”

He does, though, see a silver lining to this crisis: “For all the anxiety and panic and sense of wasted time that social media can instil in you, there’s [now] community, mutual support, and maybe a change in tone to something less combative.”

Silks’ underwear

Barristers have been told they can ditch their wigs and gowns as the coronavirus pandemic means many will now appear via video-link.

A memorandum instructs that lawyers appearing remotely “need not robe”, but that “business attire should be worn”.

The Court of Appeal also insists the video’s backdrop “be neutral and appropriate for a court hearing”, leading QCs to joke about which “lawyerly” backgrounds they’d select: a scene from courtroom drama Rumpole of the Bailey? Or legal thriller Twelve Angry Men?

Lawyers were also told they “need not ‘rise’ when the court assembles”. Presumably to spare jurors the sight of their pyjama bottoms…

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Alice Eve: joy even under seven petticoats (Photo by Lia Toby/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Alice Eve (above) insists there “was a joy” in wearing seven petticoats and a corset for her role in historical drama Belgravia. The stoic actor told Stylist magazine: “I won’t complain but I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted to as the corset was so tight, and I like a burger. It also took 20 minutes to pee.” Joyous, indeed.

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For those thinking ITV News anchor Mary Nightingale has looked sick on recent bulletins, the truth is a little more prosaic. Addressing those “worried” about her, the journalist explains “it’s probably because I’ve started doing my own make-up” to observe social distancing. But it’s not easy, as she is discovering: “Turns out TV make-up’s quite a skill!”

Melt Murs into the Mix, says Jade

Little Mix: should they be immortalised in wax? (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Jade Thirlwall thinks it’s high time her band Little Mix get waxworks at Madame Tussauds. “It’s a very touchy subject,” the singer says. “I think we deserve one. We’ve earned our place.”

Thirlwall had an idea for whose wax figure could be refashioned into her own. “You can melt down Olly Murs or something,” she teases on Clara Amfo’s podcast.

“Come on, it’s not hard. I’m sure there’s someone that can be melted into us.” Melt first, ask later.

SW1A

Andrew Stephenson: chipping in (Credit: UK Parliament)

Andrew Stephenson (above) is one of several MPs mucking in during the crisis. “I spent several hours on call last weekend [with the North West Ambulance Service]”, he tells The Londoner. “We are supporting them by dealing with non-Covid-19 cases like heart attacks.” The transport minister will “be increasing my hours with them as the pressure increases”. Bravo.

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Rishi Sunak “should not assume that this popularity is going to last”, warns ex-No 10 pollster James Johnson. He reminds the Red Box podcast that during the 2010 TV debate, Nick Clegg had a higher approval rating. Then again, Clegg didactually become Deputy PM.

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The Londoner wasn’t the only one struck by Robert Largan’s maiden speech yesterday. “Impressive…” purred fellow Tory MP George Freeman, while centrist Rory Stewart hummed: “A new MP making a much older Conservative argument for nuance and humility.” One to watch.

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Comedian Aisling Bea has developed a tricky relationship with her fridge

Insta calm - Victoria applies a soothing touch


Victoria Beckham (above) cut a relaxed figure last night as she cuddled up to her dog Fig, reminding people “even our pets feel unsettled” during these strange times. Presenter Melanie Sykes and actor Amber Heard were also putting their feet up — slightly worrying given Heard was driving a car. Meanwhile, Tinie Tempah gave a special live performance “for my princess”, Damien Hirst basked in the March sun, and Gordon Ramsay channelled Alfred the Great by burning his bread.