Brothers in covid quarantine: It’s 50 years since we spent this much time together.

The Covid Twins – Jeremy and Simon in Bournemouth … 11.01.22

My wife Hattie and I had two visitors this New Year. One, my brother Simon, was very welcome indeed. The other, his exotic friend, Omicron Variant, was not.

Simon flew in from Los Angeles on the 30th December, eventually arriving via a gruelling six hour transit stop in Dallas that involved, much to his horror, mingling with a massive crowd of hundreds of New Year’s travellers.

Though he, like us, is double vaxxed, boosted and tested negative multiple times both before and after his flight to the UK, by January 4th the almost inevitable had happened. He and I were both positive and effectively under voluntary house arrest.

Happily our symptoms were relatively mild – not much more than a bit of a cough and cold – but it meant that what for Simon was supposed to be a five day flying visit planned between TV lighting jobs in California, became a two week stay durng which we couldn’t go anywhere or see anyone.

It definiteky wasn’t what we had planned. We read, we wrote, we watched TV and caught up on years of conversation. We also gazed longingly at the world beyond our windows while working our way through a couple of boxes of lateral flow tests and waited to be officially declared contagion free. 

Simon finally managed to fly back to California with a clean bill of health on January 12th, arriving just in time to supervise the start of the new series of the US version of The Masked Singer for which he is lighting designer.

Simon, mum and Jeremy more than 50 years ago in Macua

We later worked out that it was the first time for more than 50 years that Simon and I had spent so long in each other’s company. Ths last time was during the school and college holidays in 1970 when we spent a long and lazy summer with our parents in Hong Kong and Macau.

Mollie Moran cooking lunch for two dozen and writing a best seller at the age of 96

Mollie Moran photographed at her Dorset home by Hattie Miles
Mollie Moran photographed at her Dorset home in 2013 by Hattie Miles

It was Mollie Moran’s funeral today. She died just two-and-a-half years short of her 100th birthday. A good innings by anyone’s reckoning but somehow for this former kitchen maid who found literary fame in her nineties it just didn’t seem right. At least she died peacefully in her own bed just a few months after a cancer diagnosis.

I first met Mollie a year ago when I interviewed her about her best-selling upstairs downstairs memoir Aprons and Silver Spoons. Razor sharp and impossibly energetic, she seemed strong and well.  She walked her dog daily, entertained visitors at her Dorset cliff top home, hosted weekly scrabble sessions and each month would invite 25 players from across the southern region to take part in a mini-tournament. Single handedly she would cook for them all, producing a selection that included cottage pie, chicken curry and a variety of puddings. I asked how she managed it. She shrugged and told me: “Oh it’s nothing. After all I don’t do the washing up. I get someone to help with that.” She seemed indestructible. Continue reading “Mollie Moran cooking lunch for two dozen and writing a best seller at the age of 96”

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