It’s been decades since my fingernails saw the light of day. An early adopter of the gel manicure, I regularly slather my nails with varying shades of maroon (with the occasional seasonal foray into pink), with a level of religious fervour that might be said to be bordering on zealotry.
Of course, when I say ‘‘I’’, I do not mean me. Being left-handed, clumsy, and extremely impatient do not make for a good combination when it comes to the neat application of nail polish. No, I have an app for that, cleverly designed to send out distress signals to my favourite friendly mobile manicurist every two weeks – and sometimes even more often than that.
So when lockdown was first announced, while the logical side of my brain was feverishly figuring out how to work remotely, home school my child and get enough food in the house for Pesach and beyond, the Jewish Princess side of it was panicking about my nails. I had about ten days left in my manicure, I reckoned, and beyond that — Armageddon called.
I do have two grown-up daughters who are rather good at this sort of thing, and could have helped me out — but with one living in Jerusalem, and the other in Barnet, they might as well have both been on the moon for the amount of use they were to me now.
Well, dear reader, you will not be surprised to learn that I, and my newly naked nails, survived. However, this did not prevent me from experiencing extreme bouts of nail envy every time someone waved their arms about in front of the camera on a Zoom call and I caught a flash of perfectly manicured hands. I spent far too long angsting over how they could possibly have achieved it — my google history reveals many searches of the ‘how to do your nails in lockdown’ variety.
I thought I had finally found the solution when I came across the ‘dipping powder’ method. It promised results even for those who are, shall we say, challenged on the nail-polish-brush-wielding front, and all for the price of a single gel manicure. I pressed ‘‘order’’, set aside some time on a Sunday morning, and prepped my manicure station.
I’m sure by now you have already predicted the ill-fated outcome of this venture . Several fevered hours later, some of my nails sported shiny hillocks of thick colour, others had coverage that could, at best, be described as patchy. And worst of all, the backs of my hands also sported liberal streaks of ‘‘dipping powder’’, which, when set, basically turns into coloured super-glue. Most dismally of all, I had completely neglected to stock my manicure station with nail-polish remover, which meant that I was stuck with my brave new look until the Amazon man could next come a-calling.
There have been many aspects of lockdown life that I will be loathe to give up when, as we all hope and pray, a vaccine or a cure is discovered, and life returns more or less to normal. More time to exercise and to cook meals from scratch, lazy Sunday mornings featuring home-made banana bread and pancakes dripping in maple syrup, a properly clean house — these are all features of our “stay at home” time that I hope to be able to hang on to in some form or other. And I’m in good company — a recent YouGov poll found that some 91 percent of Britons feel similarly and plan to make changes in their lives, rather than simply return to the way things were before coronavirus hit.
So, on the day that the alert level finally goes back to green, there are only two things I really want to do. First, I’ll visit my baby grandson, marvel at how much he’s grown and inhale the delicious baby-ness of him that no video-call, photo album or glimpse through the window could ever convey. And, after that, I’ll be straight on to my manicure app, sending out those distress signals with abandon.
But in the meantime, if you find yourself on a Zoom call with me, please politely avert your eyes if my hands happen to stray in front of the camera. These nails are not for Zooming…