Digested week: Johnson’s adult learning drive takes me back to the 90s

Prime minister’s latest policy initiative is a rehash that reflects a government short of ideas

David Nicholls is one of those authors that critics sometimes seem to underrate. Possibly because his novels always spend a long time on the bestseller lists. He doesn’t just have a sharp eye for story, his characters also have real depth and his books are a delicate balance between warmth and edge. No one ever gets too easy a ride. Us, which Nicholls has adapted into a Sunday night TV series – we’ve already binge watched all four episodes on iPlayer – is no exception. I can’t be the only bloke who saw the first five minutes and went into a cold sweat, wondering whether my wife was planning to tell me that our marriage was over because she now found me just a bit too dull and predictable. Before the coronavirus, my wife and I were both out at work during the week and had more of a social life at weekends, so I like to imagine that I may have appeared rather more interesting than I really am. Since March though, my wife and I have both been working from home and I can’t help feeling she must have noticed how boring I am because I do pretty much the same things every day. She did make a point of asking me during the second episode what big trip – other than a visit to Minneapolis to see our daughter – I would like to make before I died. My mind initially went blank, before hastily coming up with a ceramics tour of Japan. I think that was a good enough answer, so I may have earned myself a temporary reprieve. The other thing that has struck me about watching Us is how, even though it was filmed only last year, it seems like a different world with people taking travel and touch as normal. I wonder how soon it will be before we take them both for granted again when the pandemic is over.

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