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ALEXANDRA SHULMAN'S NOTEBOOK: Seven suitcases Coleen? That's travelling light! 

I reckon that once you’re checking in a case, you might as well cram in absolutely everything you could possibly need or want. Coleen Rooney is pictured above arriving in Barbados

The Rooney family arrived for their Barbados holiday with shedloads of luggage. Seven vast hard-shell suitcases. Yes. I counted. 

But seven cases for eight people – Wayne, Coleen, their four sons and Coleen’s parents – makes them pretty lightweight packers in my book. 

I reckon that once you’re checking in a case, you might as well cram in absolutely everything you could possibly need or want.

For me, one of the unintended pluses of flying during the pandemic is that we’re encouraged to check in luggage rather than carry it on, to avoid that desperate crush trying to nab overhead space. 

This means I no longer have to feel the group pariah when I am the only one forcing everyone else to wait at the baggage carousel.

Even so, I like to think I actually use the things I haul around with me rather than have them simply sitting in a foreign cupboard unworn, needing to be unpacked and ironed when we get back.

Returning from our recent holiday in France, I was startled to see how much seemed to fall into this category and decided to make a list. It was a salutary read.

For starters, it turns out I pack two evening wardrobes: one for my fantasy world and one for what I know will be my real one. 

In the fantasy, I emerge radiant from the shower after a day of sun and sea to dress bare-armed and bare-legged in pretty dresses and skirts for the night ahead. In the real one, I am shrouded in fabric to ward off the mosquitoes that head, at sundown, for any exposed centimetre of skin.

You might have thought that by now I would have accepted that I need to dress as if in Saudi Arabia, but no. I still pack the clothes I would like to wear.

So this year, returned unworn yet creased were two floral midi dresses, one cotton maxi skirt, one knee-length silk skirt, one linen smock dress, three pairs of floaty trousers and a pair of khaki chinos, taken on holiday despite the fact that I never wear khaki chinos anywhere and don’t know why I ever bought them.

The Rooneys’ luggage is seen arriving in Barbados. For me, one of the unintended pluses of flying during the pandemic is that we’re encouraged to check in luggage rather than carry it on, to avoid that desperate crush trying to nab overhead space

Five of the eight T-shirts remained unworn and two cashmere cardigans didn’t even make it out of the suitcase, along with the running kit which, frankly, was an exercise of hope over experience. Just like the watercolour paints.

The two swimming costumes I packed didn’t see the water, which was no surprise since I only ever wear bikinis. Yet I always bring along one-pieces in case I find myself in a place where a bikini would be inappropriate. No idea where I think that would be.

Many times I’ve been asked if I am aware that they do have shops in Naples, Ibiza, Athens, wherever. But I don’t want to waste precious holiday time searching for shampoo when I could be lolling in the sun with a glass of rosé.

So in goes every conceivable pharmaceutical and cosmetic option. I could give Boots a run for its money and I use hardly any of it. But isn’t it always when you haven’t packed the Pepto-Bismol that you need it?

When we got home this year I found three lipsticks, bath essence, turquoise eyeliner – why do I always think I will suddenly suit blue eyeliner on holiday? – and a foundation, all untouched.

All this along with a jade facial roller that demonstrates the true madness of my packing.

Who in their right mind would waste their precious holiday hours with a facial roller? 

Mayor Khan’s offensive fences 

A joyful return to the reopened Wolseley restaurant. I discussed with owner Jeremy King the mess that is the Piccadilly pavement outside which, like so many in London, has been blighted by hideous plastic fencing. 

It’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s brainwave to boost social distancing by increasing pavement width – but it just looks like roadworks. Jeremy says in the four weeks he has seen only three people use the extra space outside the Wolseley, and one of them was him. 

Jeremy and his team at the Wolseley are masters at ‘front of house’. As we re-emerge, I bet the firms that flourish (whether they be hair or beauty salons, or restaurants) will be those where we feel known. 

It’s not just food and pedicures, it’s a sense of community that we’ve missed, and a person who greets you warmly is a big part of that.

It’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s brainwave to boost social distancing by increasing pavement width – but it just looks like roadworks

No, your selfie won’t change the world 

A week is a long time on Instagram. Could it have been only last weekend my feed was suddenly overrun by attractive black and white selfies of women accompanied by #challengeaccepted, a list of other women’s names and usually some kind of female empowerment message? Now the backlash has begun.

I couldn’t work out what on earth was going on until I read a post explaining how this challenge was in support of a young Turkish woman, Pinar Gultekin, allegedly murdered by her boyfriend.

Her friends had used this hashtag chain to raise awareness of the country’s appalling rate of femicide. But that message quickly got lost and hardly any of the women posting last week had the slightest inkling of this tragedy, illustrating the vapidity and confusion of Instagram movements.

Nowadays the social pressure to take part is tremendous, even for a tough broad like me.

Should I risk offending the women who nominate me by not joining in? Am I dissing the sisterhood?

Likewise when the black square took over Instagram in support of Black Lives Matter, was I going to be called out as racist if I didn’t follow suit?

In the event, and apologies to those who invited me, I decided to hold off #challengeaccepted because, really, is posting a picture I like of myself the best way I can help tackle violent domestic abuse?

Shouldn’t there have been at least a link to donate to women’s refuges? And when posting the black square back in May (which I did), was I really making an intelligent contribution to fighting racism – or sheepishly succumbing to gesture politics?

Boris’s new dummy? No thanks!

The job I least want in the world is to be the new No 10 spokesperson. It is also, no doubt, the job I would be least likely to get.

The role of spreading Downing Street’s message in daily televised briefings is thought likely to go to a woman, with Sky’s Sophy Ridge and Brexiteer journalist Isabel Oakeshott supposedly in the frame.

But why would any independent-thinking woman want it? Of course, with this Government’s poor track record on promoting women to any meaningful position (with the noted exception of Priti Patel), No 10 think that this glorified ventriloquist’s dummy should be female.

They can look attractive, take flak, possibly cut the aggressive questioning – and keep leaving the real work to the men.

Speaking of female appointments… my tuppence-worth on Antonia Romeo, the high-flyer tipped to succeed Sir Mark Sedwill as head of the Civil Service, is that she’s a good egg and not the extravagant flibbertigibbet she is being portrayed as because when she was consul general in New York she was given paint by Farrow & Ball to decorate the apartment that came with the job.

Since part of that role was promoting British business and culture, why not?

And in 2016 when she agreed to co-host a party at that flat to celebrate British Vogue’s centenary, far from being extravagant, she had her young son handing out the canapés to our guests like Alexa Chung and the then newlyweds Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall.

Speaking of female appointments… my tuppence-worth on Antonia Romeo, the high-flyer tipped to succeed Sir Mark Sedwill as head of the Civil Service, is that she’s a good egg and not the extravagant flibbertigibbet she is being portrayed as

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