The hilarious writer, presenter and comedian on why he’s acing this lockdown thing, and his fears arising from his wife’s podcast habit…
How are you finding isolation, and who’s in your bubble?
My parents sent me to boarding school, and I used to joke that they wanted me to get used to being institutionalised. As it happens, it prepared me very well for lockdown, because the entire country has essentially been grounded. Only this time I’m in the comfort of my own home with a wife and four-year-old instead of a swagger of fetid adolescent boys determined to defy the crushing authoritarianism of the wardens. That role’s been taken over by the four-year-old, and ironically, I’m now the warden.
Any projects for the next four weeks?
I’m supposed to be writing a new show on The New Zealand Wars, but I’ve had a tower of timber cluttering up the garage for about four years that was supposed to be bookshelves, and now, lo and behold, it is. I can also see a mountain of concrete rubble from my office window that needs moving, and some bamboo roots that I should finish digging up. And as soon as I have done those jobs and the myriad of others that I have put off for years, I’ll definitely get around to writing the show. Right after I’ve read the research books I’ve just put on the shelves.
What’s on your reading/podcast/movie list?
I'm aurally addicted to a band of Nordic noise merchants called Heilung. They describe themselves as playing "amplified history from early medieval northern Europe". So, yeah, they make a mesmerising, trance-inducing cacophony from instruments including goat skin drums and human bones, taking lyrics from runic inscriptions, and throwing in a little throat singing along the way. Give them a whirl. You’ll be altered in a very primal way.
What’s in your larder? Do you have like 20 cans of chickpeas and 1 carrot or are you pretty sorted?
If there’s another thing boarding school taught me it was the joy of a structured treat. We had fish and chips Friday then, now we have chocolate biscuit Friday. I’m also having a lovely late harvest of apples, oranges, and lemons from my dwarf-chard, a little line of miniature fruit trees I brought home from my time filming Radar’s Patch.
What are you glad/regretting you stocked up on?
A freezer. I’d had a couple of old ones that I wasn’t using and I got rid of them a few years back as we tended to shop every couple of days. I actually ordered one a few weeks ago and it was due to arrive on a Thursday. As it happened that was the Thursday after the Wednesday of the lockdown. Result: I have the empty space where a freezer should go and now I can’t freeze my rhubarb.
Who’s doing the cooking?
Currently my wife, as it gives her a chance to relax and listen to a podcast. Although, now that I think about it, she’s a My Favourite Murder fan, so I’m hoping it’s for entertainment and not research.
What’s the first thing you’ll do when isolation ends (apart from catching up with friends of course)?
I’ll be off to a playground. If she’s lucky, I might even take my daughter.