Farewell 2020, farewell Europe
Christmas plans had been hijacked – instead of five days by the sea in Paignton, Devon with my wife’s family we stayed in London, hunkered down in our home. I thought it would be just like any other day, but it actually did feel special. We cycled into town down to the river and back, arriving home again frozen to the bone. There were video calls with family, we’d planned a nice Christmas meal that all went to plan, and for a change social media was flooded by positive messages from everyone wishing each other the best.
To add to the positive messages, two musician friends recently announced their engagement to be married.
Often this week would have been the last big money earner before January hit and the gigs dried up. This year I had gigs lined up for Boxing Day, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st December, but as usual they were all cancelled. It must be over 15 years since I last had a New Year’s Eve without a gig. I do have a funeral to play for on 6th January, but I’ve got my targets set on the spring before I can get back into gigging. A friend of mine who is a musician in New Orleans tells me there is no work there either.
On Christmas Eve we were told a Brexit deal had been agreed between the UK and Europe. Having been told how bad it would be for business and the UK economy to fail to agree a deal, and having missed deadline after deadline to reach an agreement it did feel like a relief. I don’t know what it actually means for me though, and with the Covid crisis raging it’s had relatively little airtime on the news. The deal was voted through by the European states, and by Parliament at the last minute (30th Dec), although in reality Parliament didn’t have much choice. I gather there haven’t been any provisions made for touring musicians so I’m not sure how it will affect my overseas work.
It’s New Years Day now, with the promise of a better year ahead. Vaccines are being rolled out around the world as fast as possible, and assuming they work as hoped then by the summer this whole pandemic might start to fade into a distant memory. There’s a long way to go yet though: The hospitals in the UK are currently trying to cope with more Covid patients than at any point in the pandemic. There is talk of re-opening the dedicated ‘Nightingale Hospitals’ around the UK for Covid patients, but there aren’t enough medical staff to man the regular hospitals, let alone any new ones. Also, as of today the UK has now officially left Europe, although, after all the drama of the last few years, the actual occasion feels a bit like a large firework fizzling out rather than a grand and exciting change.
The first thing for me to do in 2021: The Arts Council are offering grants for career development (“Develop Your Creative Practice”) of between £2000 and £10 000, so I’m considering putting an application to develop my singing. A friend of mine has applied and told me about it. By the time any grant came though I will probably be back to gigging full time so I’d have to carve out the time to focus on it, but it would be a useful motivation. The application alone will probably take a few days to put together, so it’s good to have the time.