How to video chat – step by step


 How to video call with an Android phone
If your phone is made by OnePlus, Google, Honor, Huawei, LG, Samsung or Sony, it is an Android phone. Several other companies make Android phones too.
There are plenty of free apps you can use to make video calls including Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom.


How to video call with an iPhone, iPad or Mac
If you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer, you can video call a friend using FaceTime.
The app comes pre-installed on all of these devices. However, it only works on Apple devices, so your friend or relative must be using an iPhone, iPad or Mac too.

How to receive a video call without installing software
You can receive video calls on a desktop computer without installing any software. Some video-calling services such as Skype and Zoom will let you join a chat using your computer’s web browser.
To do this, you’ll need to be invited to a video call by a friend or relative who already has the software installed.


An idea from the seventies that should have taken off but didn’t, the spork was the utensil that did it all: spoon; fork: knife and with enough force a masher. An unloved wedding present – they languished, along with vibrant plastic tumblers and a Denby coffee pot that no longer had enough matching cups to fill, at the back of the kitchen cupboard that little Jo was allowed to raid while Granny mixed, chopped and grated her way through whatever was going to be for tea tonight.

Jo had the dolls  and teddies lined up around the kitchen table and patiently poured water from the pot into tumblers so all had a fair share and she sporked the air as she fed each one imaginary dishes giving Granny a running commentary.

Jo was the God-given reward that the trials of parenthood eventually brought. All of the joy, none of the pain.

Proud possession

I’ve never been one for possessions because they are just objects but, if there was a fire in my father’s house tomorrow, the one item I would save would be the family bible.

I am not interested in it as a religious text in any way but in its value as a historical document to our family.

The tome is large and leather-bound with faded gold edged pages. It’s large enough to require two hands to carry it from shelf to table. The leather has seen better days and has darkened and cracked over time. It’s gotten to the point that it should really be handled with gloves because of what lies inside. I don’t mean the pictures of biblical stories. The real revelation is that it was used to record all the hatches, matches and dispatches going back to the 1700s. 


They were wealthy enough to buy such a text, then lovingly enter every member of each generation in cursive script. This may have been common for all I know but none of my friends have anything similar.

It’s a go-to for immediate family and erstwhile  relatives but it’s more significant than that. I can see population patterns in various parts of the family history: who married whom; how many of their children died of childhood diseases that modern medicine has eradicated; how the family moved from one part of Scotland to another due to career opportunities emerging.  It’s fascinating to see how surnames have changed over time which implies that the women were the keepers of family histories. The author, the engineer, the chemist, the teacher and the designer  are all in there. So are those who fought and died other people’s wars. It paints a picture of forgotten Scottish lives and family talents that repeat across generations.

The Selfie

Gloria only ever posed for photographs that other people took so the knowledge of camera angles, lighting, pouting lips and peeping décolletage  had left her behind. She had albums filled with family gatherings with her at the centre or in the periphery, depending on the event, but one of her on her own, taken by herself had eluded her till now. And so it would have stayed if Harold hadn’t upped and died on her two years ago. She had grieved and withdrawn but it was time to get herself out there, while there was still time left.

Abbie in her office was one of those people with a whirl of a social life. If it wasn’t selfied, it hadn’t happened. At coffee break every morning she showed the latest set of photos taken with different backdrops but Abbie front and centre smiling seductively for her intended viewers. Online dating was her forte and it didn’t matter a jot to her whether potential beau swiped right or left. Abbie was out there for all and sundry to see. Who better then than Abbie for advice? 

“Abbie, can you help me with something? I want to take a selfie and as everyone will see it, I want it to be nice.”

“Oh Gloria, I am so happy you are going to get out there again. Harold wouldn’t want you to sit at home alone. There will be some lovely kind widowers out there. Just choose the dating app carefully.”

Gloria chuckled. Abbie then set about explaining everything! Selfies, apps, going Dutch and sexual mores in 2020. Gloria’s eyes were opened literally and metaphorically.

She didn’t want to disappoint Abbie but this was just for her bus pass. Although, have bus pass, will travel. One just never knew what lay around the corner.

The Bull Ring

Bull baiting used to be an acceptable pass time in Birmingham. The bull would be tied to the ring and bull dogs would creep up slowly towards the bull and attempt to snap and bite without being tossed or gored.

Nowadays in the Bullring practically the only baiting being done was by shop fronts trying to lure jaded shoppers over their threshold with promises of bargains, sales and promotions.

Practically, but not quite: because gangs of ne’erdowells still baited one another according to team colours or ethnicities.

Women in abayas and niqabs ran the gauntlet sometimes if they had been foolish enough to try shopping unaccompanied. It was a mistake they seldom made twice. Inhuman caterwauling tended to sober up the recipient so protective measures were taken.

Britain, too Great to bait bears now baited otherness. United in little except our righteous indignation at those who were different to us.

Papa Figo

It was a simple enough recipe that Papa Figo had concocted. Sodium hydroxide, water and cold pressed olive oil stirred in after mixing with with basil and lime. The final step was green oxide swirled through with a flourish for colouring in concentric circles. A four week production timeframe meant that women champed at the bit for a bar because, there was nothing quite like it for cleansing and moisturising skin in a country where women were “naturally” beautiful.

The artifice didn’t stop there of course. Threaded eyebrows, sugared hair removal and henna rinses completed the helping hand that most women thought acceptable for public appearances in this three horse town.

Lucia though, didn’t avoid the male gaze – she prepared for it.  Not for her a pinched cheek for colour and licked lips for gloss. Lucia was by comparison a painted lady sporting blusher, mascara and a red slash of lipstick. A Kardashian of the backwaters.


Mollie returned to the bridge to remember Matt’s proposal. On a trip to Paris, he had fumbled in his pocket and pulled out the ring Mollie hadn’t realised she’d wanted until he placed it slowly on her finger. The  plain platinum band had doubled as a wedding ring and  she still wore it even though he hadn’t been around for years.

They had married quickly but never quite settled down, roaming around Europe working in bars or restaurants in tourist season and marvelling at some mountain or beach that they had discovered together. Mollie smiled at how much they had seen in the short time they had had together.

“I wonder if I would have ever gotten tired of it if you hadn’t died Matt?” she whispered. She took the padlock from her pocket and did that touristy thing of attaching it to the bridge.

“Miss you always. Mollie xxxx”


In 2010 I had wanted to treat my daughter and her boyfriend  to a mini break in London because he was recovering slowly from an assault. We all  chose one place to visit on subsequent days  and, although I remember almost everything we did, like going to the Natural Science Museum, visiting the London Eye and Mornington Crescent on the underground, the most memorable excursion was one I ironically  have no keepsake photos of at all. 
The Tate was showing Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera. In retrospect, the clue was in the name.
A photographer, unbidden, capturing unposed moments of families, lovers and strangers  led to room after room of hundreds of photos from around the world of people who had apparently not given permission for their vulnerability to be exposed.
 The exhibition turned us all into voyeurs, peeping through windows and from behind plants. We had become Big Brother.


Having mastered rigging, launching and capsizing- without drowning- Samia was ready for the RYA “Start Racing” level one course at the country park reservoir. The two day course promised to teach her to sail at speed and outwit her opponent.

Skayne, the course leader, looked rather fetching in his wetsuit but she wasn’t here to ogle his dripping quadriceps and gluteus maximus tempting though that was. No, she was here to take her mind off the stress of work and push beyond her comfort zone. The fact the course was taught by the club hunk was entirely coincidental.



“Look at the watch, look at the watch.”

…a click of the fingers and I’m there.

Back in my old postage-stamp-sized one-bedroomed flat sitting next to you in front of the glowing gas fire.

You’re so young, your hair is all auburn curls – acid washed perms were in again – and your makeup-free face is picked out in the firelight. Your hazel eyes are twinkling and it’s obvious you are eager to give me whatever is in the canvas bag.

Oh, it’s THE jumper! The one that you fell in love with the pattern because it was the Chinese Blue Willow!

The stitching wasn’t particularly difficult which was why you started but you hadn’t quite understood the complexity of how to change between all the different colours and knit the slow reveal of Koong-se, Chang, birds, a Chinese vessel, a bridge, a temple, and a Willow tree in various shades of blue and white. It had taken you months of knitting a row or two each evening and stitching together sections.

But, here you are triumphant, and I get to see you again at your loving best.

I hug you, again, and try it on, this time thinking less about Chinese dinner plates and more about what will happen to you in the next couple of decades – how your body will diminish and the twinkle will go out of your eyes as illness will ruin your joints,  your central vision  will go so you will have to rely on sound and the kindness of my father.

“Oh mum, it’s lovely!” I squeal and kiss your round, healthy face. “Yes, of course I will let you wash it so it doesn’t get ruined!”

“And you’re back in the room!” and my eyes glisten as I continue to miss you.