SUSANNA REID: We can't treat people like my mum and dad as children

From red carpet to real life…SUSANNA REID: We can’t treat people like my mum and dad as children

  • Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, got in trouble for visiting his elderly parents
  • Susanna Reid says we must take care of the elderly and respect their decisions
  • British TV presenter argues keeping older people inside can cause loneliness 

So many weeks into lockdown and I can’t be the only one hearing stories of people meeting up with their parents at a social distance in their back garden, or at the end of the path to their front door.

It makes me dream of taking a flask of tea round to my mum’s to drink two metres away — while she makes her own to avoid physical contact, of course.

Anything to see our loved ones’ faces in real life rather than on a screen.

Under normal circumstances these happy family scenes would be no big deal, but such meetings are frowned upon now, even if the justification is that you’re dropping off essential supplies.

Susanna Reid argues government ministers need a plan of how we can ease the emotional suffering of isolation. Pictured: Susanna with her mum, Sue, before lockdown

Last month, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock got into trouble for driving from South Wales to London to be with his mum Glenys and dad Neil on his 78th birthday.

‘I took a couple of chairs over and sat in their front garden for a socially distanced celebration. As you do,’ he tweeted. A simple moment of sharing birthday wishes and much-needed supplies with those who are most isolated.

But the backlash was bitter. Even the police got involved, urging him to refrain from ‘non-essential travel’ — yes, apparently meeting our loved ones can now be tantamount to a crime.

The truth is we are all desperately missing our mums and dads and nans and granddads — and they are missing us. And while we are starting to feel hopeful that restrictions will soon be eased, lockdown still stretches unknown into the future for the over-70s.

Politicians worried about the economy are focusing on getting younger people back to work, but we must not leave the elderly behind in our rush to get moving again, or ignore the very serious consequences of leaving them trapped in their own homes.

These are the people who have given us the most love in our lives. I think about my mum staying up all night with me when I was cramming for exams, and supporting me through all of life’s ups and downs. Now there’s a gaping hole at the heart of my family where my mum and dad should be, and contemplating the idea they still won’t be able to join us by Christmas breaks my heart.

From the moment we were born, our parents cared for us selflessly: looking after us when we were ill, bringing us soothing soup, or stroking our heads and cuddling us when we were distressed.

Now they need a little comfort, but this has to come from our government ministers, who must plan for how we can ease the emotional suffering of isolation.

Susanna (pictured) says we must take care of the elderly and vulnerable, while respecting those who are capable to make their own decisions 

Broadcaster John Humphrys wrote in his column in this newspaper that it’s discrimination to tell the over-70s they must stay in lockdown, calling it an ‘absurd generalisation’ to describe them all as vulnerable.

While many won’t be as bold as him when he declared he ‘won’t comply’, I bet most agree with the sentiment.

It all comes down to common sense — a life skill the older generation have in bucketloads. After all, my parents have lived through rationing, nuclear threats, mad cow disease and other scares.

Yes, we must take care of the elderly and the vulnerable as best we can. But that includes affording those who are capable the respect to make their own decisions. My mum was an NHS nurse for most of her adult life and has always made sensible choices. Why should that change now?

Surely in these days of loneliness and isolation, parking a chair at the bottom of a relative’s garden for a chat is the right thing to do? Simply seeing your face will lift their spirits. Public health officials in Switzerland have announced it is safe for children under the age of ten to hug their grandparents. Compared with this, our blanket ruling of not seeing each other at all seems so harsh.

Susanna admits that she’ll be proudly emerging with a biscuit-tin body after lockdown. Pictured: Rita Ora on Instagram 

I am lucky to be in phone and email contact with my folks, but not every pensioner is a silver surfer. At some care homes, all family can do is peer through the windows. It must be bewildering to those inside longing for a cuddle.

We all support the aim of the lockdown, which is to reduce virus transmission and so protect people’s lives and the NHS. But there are also health consequences to keeping older people inside.

Heart attack, stroke, loneliness. The shame of asking for help because they feel they may be a burden, which has led to some people dying at home because they’re reluctant to call for an ambulance. This death toll is a tragedy and we need to stop it.

Let’s not treat our older relatives as victims, or as children. Their great service to the country entitles them to have a say in their own solitary confinement.

The light at the end of the tunnel could be as simple as a face at the end of the garden path.

No bikini shot for me   

My Instagram feed is chocka with celebrities baring their bronzed limbs. Rita Ora in a daily state of undress, Chrissy Teigen in her swimmers, Lily Allen showing off her abs, Lottie Moss debuting her new hair colour, half naked.

The latest to join them is glamorous actress Catherine Tyldesley looking stunning in a swimsuit in ‘St Tropez’ . . . aka her son’s sandpit in the back garden.

While some people are clearly working on their bikini bods and longing for a chance to show them off in public, I’ll be proudly emerging with a biscuit-tin body — and keeping it covered up.

Susanna who has stockpiled boxes of Garnier’s Medium Brown, revealed she’s intrigued by women who’ve been booking bootleg beauty appointments

Bootleg beauty appointments? I’m tempted, but I’d never take the risk

During the war, women without nylons drew lines up the backs of their legs to give the illusion of silk stockings. Painting over grey hair with spray-on root touch-up — or even dark eyeshadow — is the Covid-19 equivalent.

My battle on the home front is being fought with the help of stockpiled boxes of Garnier’s Medium Brown.

Normally my greys get zapped once a fortnight, but I’m currently tolerating an extra week of growth to make my supplies last longer.

Susanna said she’s not surprised that Steph McGovern (pictured) has called a halt to broadcasting her new show from home

So of course I was intrigued to read about how some women are booking bootleg beauty appointments to have their colour topped up at home — guerrilla fighters in the war on grey.

I would never take the risk though — not unless they can come up with a way to blitz grown-out roots from at least two metres away.

Lights, camera, living (room) hell

I’m not surprised Steph McGovern has called a halt to broadcasting her new show from home. It was challenging enough filming GMB for a few weeks — balancing my phone on books and trying to stop Suki the cat from jumping on my lap. It must have been a nightmare for Steph, having lights, cables and cameras cluttering up the home she shares with her partner and five-month-old baby. I bet her neighbours in Harrogate weren’t loving the commotion, either.

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