After the optimism of the government promises of support for businesses, employees and later the self employed the reality of the situation seems to be starting to bite. Any funds will be weeks coming, even if you do qualify for them. Phone lines at banks are apparently completely overloaded. Likewise social services and HMRC. Yesterday it was announced that two large UK companies had filed for bankruptcy. Some musicians I know are running out of money and have bills to pay – they don’t know what to do.
It appears that the self employed musicians (myself included) who tried to be smart by running their own limited company and spreading their income sources may have shot themselves in the foot – the small print of the support package offered means it looks like we won’t get any compensation. I hope I’m wrong, but when large companies are going bust left right and centre I guess the odd self employed person is small fry.
Relentless Coronavirus news is pretty draining. I think the general feeling is that the government are following the advice of the experts and doing their best, and in the situation where the entire world are trying to get hold of protective equipment, ventilators and testing kits there’s only so much that you can do. We are told that some of the few large manufacturers based in the UK are helping to make medical equipment now. There is not universal agreement with the strategy though: An ex-supreme court judge warned that the UK was sliding into a police state and questioned the strategy given the damage it is doing to people, businesses and the economy.
I seem to have become a Facebook junkie. Before this virus I might glance at it once a day at the most. I’d often resent the invitations to “like” pages by people I’d never met, the relentless self promotion, the ranting about anything you could imagine, forwarding pseudo scientific posts by people who had not bothered even a brief check of authenticity etc. etc. Now it seems to have returned very much more to what it should be about – a community of friends and acquaintances sharing a little bit of their lives, posting things that might make others smile or laugh, asking advice…
Freelance musicians tend to be a sociable bunch. You have to be, because a large part of your job involves sitting around waiting with others. Many have a sharp and quirky sense of humour (which sometimes intimidates me and can make me a little envious) - some have a capacity to real out jokes and funny stories for hours on end. Facebook seems to be partly filling this gap but I’m hoping that when we’re all back to work I can wean myself off it again.
There seems to be a lot of talk about how society will be changed. Generally a hope and longing for a better society, although it’s easy to say this living in a comfy home in a rich country. One post going round from an Indian doctor reminds us that self-isolation is a privilege for the rich who have their own house with solid walls, a fridge and freezer, and who can afford to stockpile.