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Stephen Fry: Be kind to yourself during lockdown

By Sam Russell
Stephen Fry has urged people to be kind to themselves during the third lockdown and not to “fall into the trap” of thinking they are “failing”.

The actor and television presenter, who has a home in Norfolk, emailed a morale-boosting message to share with school staff at two academy trusts in the county this week.

“Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking that you’re somehow ‘failing’ or ‘getting lockdown wrong’,” he said.

“There is no way to get through all this that is right and proper.

“It can be off-putting submitting oneself to the window of social media through which other people’s lives can seem so healthy, happy and efficient. All that baking and exercising that other people are doing – it can make one feel inadequate.

“But what other people choose to share of their lives, faked or real, isn’t the point. We are all getting through this in our own way, and for most of us that means good days, OK days, bad days and awful days.

“Let oneself have those bad days without feeling guilty and letting self-annoyance make them worse.

“All this is easier to write and say than do, but I really do feel that we should let ourselves off the hook where we can and allow ourselves to stumble and sulk from time to time!”

Fry also gave a glimpse of his lockdown life to the teachers and support staff of Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT) and St Benet’s Multi-Academy Trust.

Asked what he has enjoyed reading and listening to, he said: “At the moment, I’m re-reading Gore Vidal’s ‘Narratives Of Empire’ series. Seven fabulous historical novels set in the US between the American Revolutionary Wars and the 1950s.

“Musically, mostly jazz and classical I’m afraid. Getting very into Duke Ellington at the moment. Otherwise Schubert is my current best friend.”

He said that to boost his mood he drinks “pints and pints” of oat milk, and has been watching old TV series such as Midsomer Murders.

“I can’t join in with the enthusiasm for current ‘bingeworthy’ TV,” he said.

“It’s far more likely to be… Silent Witness and Agatha Christie than the hot new Netflix shows. I don’t know what that says about me. I suspect it isn’t good.”

Oliver Burwood, chief executive of DNEAT, said: “It’s been really inspiring for staff across the trust to hear these words of encouragement from Stephen Fry and I’d like to thank him for taking the time to share them.

“At a time when everyone is working so hard, these words of positive support will mean so much and will help everyone to keep going.”

Richard Cranmer, chief executive of St Benet’s, said: “The last 11 months have reminded me how much I miss being around colleagues and pupils – at times I have found it a challenge and have fallen into the trap that Stephen describes in ‘getting lockdown wrong’.

“His words should provide reassurance to all of us that those feelings are normal, and to be kind to ourselves.”

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