Fairy cakes and a funeral
On Monday I cycled down to a care home to have a Covid test in anticipation of my gig there on Friday. It also meant a group of us had an excuse to meet in the garden outside for a sandwich, coffee and chatter (discussing the merits of vitamin D supplements in suppressing the virus!). It felt quite logical to be sitting outside in January – nobody questioned it.
Tuesday involved driving 1 ½ hours up to Newbury to perform for a funeral. We all arrived in plenty of time (you can't afford to be late for a funeral!), and then stood around waiting. The musician who’s gig it was had come up from Devon – 4 hours drive, and he’d booked two others who came together from South Wales, again 4 hours. A banjo player came from an hour away. For a gig that only involved 10 minutes of playing this seemed quite ridiculous, even in normal times. We were all outdoors, and not standing close, so you could argue it wasn’t a risk, but it did feel a bit wrong. We waited and waited, as dozens of people gathered inside and outside the cemetery. Large displays of flowers were delivered, and eventually six Rolls Royce cars turned up with the mourners. Obviously no expense had been spared. We led the cars across the cemetery from the entrance to the grave, playing slightly shaky versions of Al Johnson songs, and eventually packed up and headed back home 2 hours later. Luckily the weather was kind, if a little cold.
My Covid test result came through on Wednesday, negative. Phew! We met in an empty house to rehearse the new line-up of two double basses and vocals in preparation for Friday's performance.
On Wednesday night a group of musicians met on Zoom for a chat. A bunch who play gipsy jazz gigs, and we periodically meet for a ‘Duck Dinner’ (our first gathering involved crispy duck). We talked about things we might do in the future in better times – places and festivals we could visit, and about what we were all getting up to now - music we were listening to, programmes we were watching. Somehow we managed to keep chatting for nearly 2 hours.
It was a friend’s birthday on Thursday. He lives in a flat on his own so I baked him some chocolate fairy cakes, thinking he wouldn’t have a birthday cake, and cycled down to deliver them. Of course I wasn’t the only person to have had the thought – he’d had a cake delivered at 7am, another cake posted by his mother, a box of doughnuts and a box of shortbread! It was nice to see him (we snuck in a cheeky, socialy distanced coffee together). In the evening we had a birthday zoom chat.
And so to Friday, and my double double bass gig. With all the longing to get back to gigs I forget all the additional hassles and worries involved. I’ve already mentioned the long drives and hanging around. There’s the unexpected road-works which hold you up too, and other band members who arrive even later. My partner on this gig forgot to bring his music, so there was a frantic search for an email attachment, emailing it to someone with a tablet and borrowing the tablet for the gig. We had to take a Covid test (a ‘lateral flow’) before starting too. Dragging our two basses around the care home we played to individuals in their rooms and small groups in communal areas. By the time we’d finished, 2 hours later, we were pretty good at Where-E’er You Walk, Under The Greenwood Tree, Johnny B Good, A Hard Day’s Night and Bring Me Sunshine!
I totted up last years gigs - 83 in the year, as opposed the 280 or so that I normally do. Ah well, two gigs in five days isn't to be sniffed at.