Southsea Lifestyle – Free Magazine for Southsea, Old Portsmouth, Eastney & Gunwharf Quays

Culture Vulture

Not going out.

Things to do in Southsea when you’re self-isolating, by Emma Beatty

I’ve had a ‘persistent cough’ for a few days. I don’t think it’s anything serious as I’ve had no fever. I tried to convince myself I was not ill, knowing that I’d have to lock myself away. But I couldn’t keep it up for long, and have been up in the top bedroom, staring out at the grey sky for a few days now – fortunately, there’s a cloud of midges that form just outside the windowpane and that keeps me amused…

When not staring at the midges, I’ve occupied myself with fantasy shopping on This requires little mental effort and takes my mind to strange far-off places as I ponder in which social situation I might wear a “Palm Print Kaftan Sleeve Dress” and which colour to choose, ‘dusty pink’ or ‘camel’. My basket currently has 27 items, and all for £135. The temptation to ‘checkout’ is tantalising, but is countered by the guilty prospect of an enormous plastic-taped parcel arriving, and no room in my bulging wardrobe.    


My beloved, Mr Culture Vulture, has risen to the occasion, bringing me tea and beef hula hoops on request. He takes these things seriously — concerned looks, whilst keeping 2m away and advising against Ibuprofen.

Our strange peace is about to be shattered, as schools are out next week. Two tweenage boys trapped in a Southsea terrace will not be a recipe for peace and joy. But maybe I’m wrong, perhaps we’ll all take up Fortnite or become YouTubers doing challenges, such as counting up to the number 3000 without making a mistake…

Things to keep occupied

• new series of Friday Night Dinner on Channel 4 – always good value

• new series of Ozark on Netflix – to transport me away to the dark heart of Missouri

• new series of The Great British Sewing Bee – my all-time favourite programme.

• semi-final of Portrait artist of the Year on Sky Arts.

• Watching reruns of The Great Pottery Throwdown on YouTube. Strangely calming and uplifting, especially when Keith Brymer Jones cries with joy at the sight of someone’s slip work.

• Discovering Charite, the German WWII hospital series on Netflix.

Crochet (self-isolation is what we crafters have been training for). 

• Reading Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami, highly recommended by my mother who reads two novels a week and declares most of them to be ‘not very good’.

• Practising Italian and French for my – now cancelled – holidays on my Duolingo app.
It gets quite bossy if you don’t do your lesson on time and starts messaging you with a strident beep. I may have to delete it soon. 

• Doing facial yoga for my double chin on the handy app suggested to me by my son.
(This activity can be combined with staring at midges.)


Stay safe everyone, and, as David Hockney just said — “Do remember they can’t cancel the spring.”


Emma Beatty teaches journalism at the University of Portsmouth. She has lived in Southsea for thirteen years, and has two children

Posted in: Art & Culture, Articles