Tap anywhere to start


Laura Craik snags a pub garden hot spot, attempts to throw off her Covid loungewear and looks forward to a tweakment volte-face

Here in week three of The Great Reopening, I think we can all agree that we are Mary and Joseph, and there is no room at the inn. Sure, the inn itself is empty, and will remain so until 17 May. Outside the inn? Forget it. You can’t get a booking in a beer garden, rooftop or terrace until January 2023.

Which leaves you with two options: accept that 4.30pm invitation for ‘evening drinks’, or go back to the shitting park with a carry-out.

Clearly, all anyone wants to do is go out and get mindlessly drunk with their friends, but this can be challenging when your table, chair and touch points need thoroughly disinfecting in time for Katie Smug’s party of six arriving at 8.45pm. Splitting the evening into two shifts so that everyone gets a chance to pour beer down their throats while summarily eating a grass-fed beef patty topped with cave-aged Gruyère on a lightly toasted brioche bun is only fair and decent.

But also: super-annoying. Do you go for the early slot and pray the next booking doesn’t turn up? Or do you go for the later one and count on sweet-talking the waiter into letting you order another round? (Life hack: it won’t work.)

“Sitting in a local beer garden felt as exciting as if Larry Levan had risen from the dead to play an all-nighter at Space”

Having sold a child to get a table in a local beer garden, I thought I’d hit the jackpot with an 8.30pm-11.30pm slot on a Friday night. Three hours in a different corner of the same postcode? It felt as exciting as if Larry Levan had risen from the dead to play an all-nighter at Space. And it was fun for what seemed like 10 minutes, until the waiter came back saying he couldn’t serve us our round because he’d rung the order through at 10.31pm, a minute after closing time.

That I can remember this sad tale is further proof that I was far more sober than I should have been. In the hefty email of rules and regs I’d been sent about my booking, the pub had failed to mention that last orders were at 10.30pm. London is open: just not as open as it used to be. Still, how lovely it is to eat, drink and be merry, if only for a few hours.

Down in one: you might have to with your allotted pub time slot

Shackled to my lockdown look

Despite the 45,278 emails I’ve received from fashion brands urging me to dress up again, turns out it’s not that easy. Whither the pretty floral dress, statement lipstick and OTT heels the fashion mags are exhorting me to wear?

My first night out saw me in a black sweatshirt, black ankle boots and black skinny jeans, like a roadie with a side-hustle as a cat burglar. On my second night out, I went wild and put on a long floral skirt, only to tamp it down immediately with a hoodie and trainers. It’s like some weird sartorial Stockholm syndrome, where I’ve developed a psychological bond with my oppressors, aka my comfort clothes. Anyone else?

Filling our faces

Peakment (n) April 2021’s version of the tweakment. If the tweakment is all about subtle improvements — barely perceptible Botox and deftly administered filler — the peakment is its opposite, a post-pandemic phenomenon that’s seen those depressed by the sight of their natural faces over the past few months march into their clinic and urge their surgeon to pump it all up to the max.

Why are you raising your eyebrows at me? Oh: they’re stuck there. Fingers crossed by May the effects will have worn off a bit, and everyone will look less smooth and permanently surprised.

7 september

Publication day of Michaela Coel’s first book, Misfits. She didn’t win a Golden Globe: maybe she’ll win a Booker instead.


It’s all about the petnup, according to lawyers, as post-Covid divorce cases soar and tensions rise over who gets the cockapoo.