Available until: 1st August 2021
ABC: Anything But COVID is a fascinating and slightly scary look at what lockdown is like for normal people. I kind of missed out on the whole ‘not knowing what to do with myself’ thing. I was actually really looking forward to it but I kept finding things to do. Not so many things that I could actually get out of doing chores but enough to fill my time. And I didn’t even make any banana bread. Am I the only person in the world who’s never made banana bread? That would actually be quite iconic.
In the early part of the film, people are talking about all the new things they’re doing and they’re only the things I’ve been doing for like my WHOLE LIFE. It’s just so cute that they’re only just discovering these things. I’ve just been finding out things like the fact the little piggy who went to market wasn’t bargain-hunting. I will never get over it.
Reading books… if I only read a hundred a year, I would hang my head in shame, which would only be exacerbated when the downward motion caused my faux eyelashes to fall off. (Obviously, my reading includes reading all the plays nobody wants to cast me in. I still think I would be the most gorgeous Ophelia. The Globe had a boy Ophelia and I nearly had palpitations. Okay, I’m lying. It wasn’t ‘nearly’. And don’t you think a male Lady Macbeth doing the ‘Unsex me here’ speech would be just so postmodern?)
Ordering shopping online…. I’ve been doing it for years. I mean, why should I have to carry all those bags (and we’re talking plastic shopping bags, there’s nothing glamorous about a Bag for Life, though I do have some very nice ones with sheep on) when I could get a big handsome man in shorts to deliver it to my door and not use any plastic bags at all? Eye candy and ethical!
Trying out new make-up looks… I hate to disappoint you, but I’ve been doing that ever since I found a female friend with taste who was happy to go in the shop and buy my make-up for me.
Homes are actually really nice places. And they’ve got bedrooms too and you can do pretty much anything in there and no-one’s going to take one look at you, scream and call the police. Not unless they break into your house and if they do that, I don’t think calling the police will be very high on their To Do List.
But then the people in this video start struggling. They are so desperate to be doing something, but the things they were doing before aren’t doing it for them anymore. They have to find something else. Something bigger. Something crazier. Which they attack with almost manic ferocity. Some of the things they got up to in this film are actually quite scary. Scary to watch and scary to think they were that desperate. The poor, poor people. We made so much effort to call the people who were on their own and that’s a really good thing (even though some of them were used to living on the own and were glad of the peace and quiet when we finally got off the phone and let them get on with their lives), but what about the poor people who aren’t necessarily alone but just aren’t used to the feeling of being hemmed in by four walls for days on end?
I could have called people and said “Don’t drink any more gin. It’ll only make you feel worse. Why don’t you try being naturists? This is the perfect opportunity. What if you were meant to be naturists all along and you didn’t realise because you spend most of your life in public, where you can get arrested for not wearing clothes? Embrace the moment. Just maybe put some clothes on when you’re taking your banana bread out of the oven because that could really hurt.”
If nothing else, they could have consoled themselves with the thought that even if they are losing it a little bit, at least they’re still saner than Aashiq.
I think if you found lockdown tough, you’ll find a lot to relate to in this film. It’s probably not completely serious. I doubt people have really done every single thing in this video. (Or have they? Does that mean they… and they even did the… okay, I’m GLAD I’m in lockdown. Less chance of meeting any of that lot. Nothing freaks me out quite like being the sanest person in the room, though luckily, it usually only happens when I’m alone with a therapist.)
Grace Gallagher has directed this beautifully, editing everything together so it all makes sense but with the intensity slowly but surely increasing. The cast are brilliant at slowly falling into madness and they're certainly committed to their art. I wouldn't be seen dead doing some of what they do. (Then again, I told one of my directors I wouldn't be seen dead in padded shorts that look like a nappy but I still ended up wearing them.)
So if you relate to this film, it’ll probably make you smile and feel a bit less alone, which is what a lot of people want at this time.
And if you don’t relate to this film, it’ll probably make you smile because, bad as it’s been for nearly all of us at times, we can at least be grateful we didn’t resort to painting bits of our faces green.
(Oh, you did that, did you? And you? And you?
Couldn’t you at least have painted them fuchsia?)