United Kingdom

JENNI MURRAY: I'll see my hairdresser before my family (bet you would too) 

The first thing I did when I heard the details of Boris' road map was to email my hairdresser. 

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm desperate to get one of those coveted first appointments on April 12.

I feel I've aged dreadfully during this last lockdown as the grey has forced its way through. I did try one of those sprays that puts a bit of dark brown where, frankly, the white, not just grey, has begun to spread across my crown, but it's not very successful and washes out during every shower.

No, I want a cut and a proper colour. Annie does the colour and immediately takes ten years off me as the white/grey disappears and blonde summer highlights brighten everything up. 

Jenni Murray (pictured) emailed her hairdresser immediately after Boris Johnson's road map were announced and to secure herself one of the coveted first appointments on April 12

Lisa B cuts my hair better than anyone has ever done it in my life. She snips and twists it into an immaculate shape which perfectly suits my face. 

At the start of lockdown I sent a £60 deposit to be deducted from the final bill so let's hope it acts as my insurance policy for that earliest of early bookings.

Next, the nails. Usually my pride and joy — long, perfectly manicured with red shellac — I've tried to convince myself that un-polished nails are a good thing.

I managed to remove the shellac at the start of lockdown with a special remover I found online and thought it would help their strength to leave them naked. But my filing has not enhanced their shape and they look pale and wan. Roll on a proper treatment for the hands and feet, too.

I'm glad that at last there's a glimmer of recognition from the men in power that beauty treatments are not frivolous.

At the end of the first lockdown, beauty salons didn't open until a month after pubs had thrown open their doors.

But appearances matter. Friends and family were astonished when I said, during the cancer months, that losing my hair was worse than enduring the chemotherapy — but it was. 

Carefully brushed and styled hair is the most obvious sign of pride in one's appearance — and every bit as important as a pint in the pub for the blokes.

Jenni (above) is looking forward to getting a manicure as soon as beauty salons reopen 

Happily they're all open on the same day this time. (I might just pop to my local for a quick vodka and tonic to show off my new do.)

Sadly, trying to look like myself again may be mostly only for my benefit, as I'm still living by myself in London, while my husband is more than 100 miles away on the south coast.

I've had one jab, but no notice yet of a second. My husband gets his first next week. So it's looking like June before we can meet up for hugs and kisses.

And that means being home alone for my birthday — again. My 70th was somewhat scuppered by lockdown last year so I had longed to go to a restaurant to celebrate becoming 71 on May 12.

I guess a belated birthday on May 17, when we can finally dine indoors, will be the answer to that dilemma. There's bound to be some friend, in the absence of family, to whom I can show off my new, soignee look.

I will, of course, be wearing my glasses. People have often asked me why I wear my specs all the time. 

Photographers say: 'Oh, take them off so we can see your eyes better.' I always tell them they are now part of my face. I love them and I wouldn't feel like me without them.

Now I'm vindicated. A study has found people who wear glasses are up to three times less likely to catch Covid-19. Glad I insisted on remaining a speccy four eyes!

IN THE DILYN DEBACLE, I'M WITH THE DOG 

I was a bit puzzled to hear the latest claim about little Dilyn the Downing Street dog's poor behaviour: 'If it hadn't been for Covid, Dilyn would have been to the vets by now to be neutered. He is basically on heat the whole time,' said a source.

Surprising, because the vet, looking after my ageing mutt, has been available throughout. 

No insult to Boris, but they do say dogs begin to be like their masters. The hair is not dissimilar. 

They also say: 'There are no bad dogs, only bad owners.' I'm with the dog.

WHAT'S HAPPENED TO HARRY'S SMILE?

I have to say I panicked when I saw: 'Queen to go on TV the same night as Sussexes' tell-all Oprah interview.'

'No, your Majesty,' I cried. 'Don't fall to their level. Stick with the "Never complain, never explain" philosophy that's served you so well.'

Jenni says that Prince Harry has been looking 'utterly miserable' while Meghan has been 'all smiles' in recent images (above: the Sussexes appear during a Spotify Stream On event)

So I was relieved to discover her appearance for Commonwealth Day will be an absolutely traditional, long-arranged broadcast showing what duty and service really mean.

I do hope the Sussexes didn't plan their interview deliberately for the same day to, again, appear to cock a snook at the Queen.

If they did, it's maybe why Meghan's photos recently have been all smiles and Harry looks utterly miserable.

Is the poor boy beginning to have regrets?

It was shocking to read that the American novelist Jeanine Cummins had fallen foul of 'cancel culture' because of her novel American Dirt.

Described as 'The Grapes of Wrath for our time' it tells the story of a Mexican woman and her eight-year-old son trying to escape to the U.S. after her entire family was gunned down by a drug cartel.

Cummins was trolled by certain critics and on social media. The book was called 'a piece of s**t' and she was dubbed a 'b***h' because she wasn't Mexican or a migrant.

I spent a weekend unable to put it down. It's harrowing, beautifully researched and brilliantly written.

Cummins had every right to use her compassion and talent to create what will, I'm sure, become a modern classic.

FIVE YEARS FOR KILLING A WIFE IS CRIMINAL 

The case of Anthony Williams, convicted of the manslaughter of his wife Ruth and sentenced to a mere five years in prison, took me back to the 1990s when I got to know of a campaign for law reform called Justice for Women.

After Sara Thornton lost an appeal against a murder conviction for killing the violent husband who had abused her for years, a man, Joseph McGrail was found guilty of the manslaughter of his wife, but not jailed. 

The judge said: 'This lady would have tried the patience of a saint.'

Thirty years on, what we used to call the 'nagging and shagging defence' or provocation, where a man would claim his wife had been unfaithful or had nagged so much she'd caused him to flip, no longer exists in law, but similar excuses are obviously still used.

The MP Harriet Harman is asking for the Williams case to be referred to the Court of Appeal as an unduly lenient sentence.

It's time to end the double standard that values a man's life more than a woman's.

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