End of "week 1" - getting real
From 16th March the outbreak began for real in my world. There were still one or two gigs in my diary left for the following weeks but the assumption is that these would go. So it was a matter of settling in to this new life, accepting it, keeping an eye on progress and government advice, checking up on friends and family and deciding what to do with the time.
All the musicians I know want to see this as an opportunity rather than just sitting it out. To use the time to do things that we wouldn't otherwise be able to do. For me this blog is one, but I have other plans - I have instruments to practice, bands to write new arrangements for, jobs to do around the house (as I write workmen are on their way to fix a leak in our roof), set up a small recording studio so I can do recording sessions remotely...
I have a facebook account and it's been interesting to watch the evolution of posts through the week from the musicians community:
From the small group of "what's all the fuss about, it's hardly worse than a mild bout of flu" people (they've generally gone quiet now)
And a group of "the word has gone mad", with pictures of empty shelves at supermarkets (although note the wine is still well-stocked!)
Lots of angry posts - how dare this happen to us? What are the government going to do? What are we going to do?
Links to government advice, scientific advice - reminding skeptics that we all need to take it seriously.
Now the posts have moved more to humour, videos from musicians singing, playing or chatting to anyone that wants to listen, musicians offering services (lessons, recording sessions, live performances and such on line) and a few thought provoking words, poems and pictures.
I fitted in a cheeky game of tennis with a friend yesterday (it felt cheeky - we questioned whether we should be doing it). I wore a glove to pick the balls up with, and we anti-bac'ed our hands after the game. It was great to get a bit of exercise (even if I didn't win!).
Our street had an informal street gathering with mugs of tea and discussions of what we might do as a community to help those in need. It was agreed we'd print out a sheet with numbers to call and put it through everyone's letterbox, given there are a number of elderly people living on our road.
I feel like I'm re-discovering the telephone as a means of communicating. Not emails, texts and such, but actually talking to people. We've now all got a reason and a need to talk, with a common experience, and I'm enjoying it.
Oh, and finally last night all the restaurants and bars have been ordered to close so the remaining smattering of gigs in my diary are now officially cancelled for the next few months at least.
How am I going to support myself? My wife works (for the NHS) and I have savings, but I slightly resent spending my retirement savings supporting myself now. At a quick glance any self employed person with remotely significant savings are not eligible for any kind of support, although I'm told I might get some sort of job seeker's allowance. It looks like companies are being helped to keep staff employed but there are no plans for the thousands of self employed people now out of work. Hoping we're not going to be left hung out to dry?