Editor’s letter: Welcome to your dream dinner party

When I consider what I truly miss about life BC (before corona) I can whittle it down to pretty much one thing: people. I’m not that fussed about buying more stuff (although the accessories special on in this week’s issue might have me rethinking that) and I have zero interest in a fancy new car or going to the latest achingly cool bar. But, god, I miss sitting around a table laughing, talking, hearing my friends’ latest news (the reason I always wanted to be a journalist is purely because I like nosying into other people’s lives). I mean, I know I can still see them if we go for a walk or, I dunno, fill up our cars at adjacent petrol pumps (that’s still allowed in Tier 2, right?). But as our ever-brilliant columnist Elizabeth Day says, boy, did we take just sitting in a pub with our mates for granted.

So, in lieu of hearing our own friends’ stories, we have packed this issue full of smart, funny women with interesting takes on life. Mary Beard (aka the coolest historian on TV, in my humble opinion) tackles the unpleasant business of online trolls. She challenges these bullies with such joyous vigour you almost end up pitying the fools who think they can pick on her and get away with it.

Our cover star, the comedian Katherine Ryan, is the epitome of working a bad situation to your advantage – after years of wasting time on men who were not worthy, she has spun those unhappy relationships into comedy gold and these days is famous for her razor-sharp put-downs.

And one of my all-time favourite authors,Maggie O’Farrell, is wise and eloquent in the face of daily fears for her daughter’s health. (Side note: if you’ve never read any of Maggie’s books, I’d say begin with her startling debut After You’d Gone and keep going until you get to her latest award-winning novel Hamnet).

I like to think of this issue as your dream dinner-party guest list – I hope it keeps you going until a real-life get-together is back on the agenda. Or at least takes your mind off the ‘hamsterkauf’ of lockdown. (You can find out what that means in Stuart Heritage’s hilarious dictionary of 2020, in which he attempts to put this strange old year into words.)

Enjoy the issue.

JO ELVIN IS AWAY

Editor’s picks

A few things I’m coveting this week

Autumn, I am ready for you. Jumper, £240, ba-sh.com

I’ll be going on lots of walks with friends so I may as well invest. Boots, £159, tedbaker.com

For when I’m channelling my inner Duchess of Cambridge. Coat, £79, marksandspencer.com