Joe Lycett: My isolation preservation kit

The boxsets, music, exercises and more that are helping Joe Lycett stay happy and healthy while staying at home

Binge-worthy boxsets

I’ve been loving Mae Martin’s sitcom Feel Good on Channel Four and catching up with Pose, the series about the New York ballroom scene of the 1980s. I’d never watched 24 Hour Party People but I used to live in Manchester and miss it quite a lot, and that was really good fun. There’s a little nod to The Trip in that film, early rapport between Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.

Soundtrack to my isolation

There’s a cool but retro band called Litany I’ve had almost on loop. The brilliant DJ and record producer Andrew Weatherall was a friend of mine. I’ve been listening to his work since he died, the original Primal Scream stuff that he worked on lots of really extraordinary music that he produced. In terms of podcasts I’ve found the Alain de Botton and Mo Gawdat episodes of How to Fail with Elizabeth Day soothing. If people are struggling in lockdown, I recommend they listen to those because they have some really useful tips on how to deal with your mental health in this strange time.

Read all about it

I’ve only just started Raven Smith’s Trivial Pursuits but I find him so funny on Instagram. I don’t read things quickly, I dive in and out. I’ve been reading the essays of Mark Greif in a book called Against Everything. It’s so full of really interesting thoughts and ideas from a brilliant essayist, particularly his insights on reality television of which I am, I suppose, involved. There’s this an essay about Rousseau, who was very against the opening of a theatre in his local area, his reasoning being that instead of a theatre, they should open a sort of Coliseum of ordinary people doing ordinary things, so we should all watch a carpenter do his carpentry or we should all watch a chef make a pie, or whatever it was. Essentially, he was an advocate for a form of reality television. He thought the theatre was fake and drama not useful for the human soul because it depicted life not as it actually is. Reality television, in its initial form would have been something that Rousseau would have enjoyed. However, reality television has now become the worst of the two things because it pretends to be real, when actually it is full of fakery and full of drama.

My new skill

I’ve been inspired by Grayson Perry who asked me to go on his Channel 4 show about making art in lockdown.

Since then I’ve been painting more and there’s an art club that friends of mine organise on a Sunday. I painted a character from Tiger King. I’ve also appeared in art. I’m a huge fan of Cold War Steve and when I found out that he was doing a Birmingham piece and I was going to be part of it… it’s legit one of my career highlights because I just think he’s so talented and so funny. And the piece is excellent. It made me a bit emotional because it made me so proud of my city, and we’re not a proud people. To see that artwork and all the madness, it really did capture something about our silly city.

Comfort food

I’ve always considered myself to be an old Italian woman without any of the skills of an old Italian woman so I’ve been trying to pick those up. I’ve got really good, if I say so myself, at making fresh pasta. Once you get the knack it’s quite simple. I’ve been making all sorts of different pasta dishes and happily gorging myself on my creations.

My exercise regime

The thing with the pasta making is that you have to knead that dough. So there is a little bit of exercise involved, it’s not as simple as popping it in the in the pan. I think you do burn off some of the calories making the food, but not anywhere near enough.

Joe Lycett presents The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC One.

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