Farewell Tony Pitt
Updated: Jan 22
2021, out of the frying pan and into the fire...
A nationwide lockdown has been announced again, schools closed, only essential shops open (although the definition of ‘essential’ tends to be stretched a little), only going out if absolutely necessary, exercise once a day. Unlike the first lockdown though people aren’t taking their responsibilities quite so seriously.
The new strain of the virus circulating the UK has contributed to the virus being ‘out of control’ in London, according to the London Mayor (as if it was ever ‘in control’). Hospitals are under more pressure than they’ve ever been, ambulances sometimes taking hours to arrive rather than minutes, urgent hospital treatments being postponed. In parts of London 10 to 15% of people have the virus.
The brief optimism of the rolling out of the vaccination programme has been replaced by a dread of what the news will next announce. We are told that things will likely continue to get worse for another week, but nobody is sure when or how quickly things will ease. In the meantime hospital staff are close to breaking point.
Just yesterday the death of Tony Pitt, a musician, was announced on Facebook. A victim of Covid. On the jazz circuit that I work in he was a legend. Everybody knew him, and many of us loved him. I think he recently turned 80, but he played the banjo and guitar with more energy than anyone half his age. He was really the last musician still playing who grew up in the ‘trad boom’ of the 1960’s, playing with the biggest bands of the time, touring the world and living life like a rock star. Despite his reckless early musical career, when I knew him he was highly professional, gigging hard, dressing smart and taking any gigs that came his way. He told me he had to carry on gigging because he had "pissed his money away" when younger, but he loved playing and I think that’s really why he did it. He was full of funny anecdotes and stories to share, so my annual gruelling week of gigs at Royal Ascot with him was fun. Sadly, of course, last July’s event was cancelled. We did get to perform outdoor at a jazz club with his band last summer though. Farewell Tony.
My last blog announced plans to apply to the Arts Council for a grant, but since then I’ve given up on the idea. The thought of spending days trying to put together a proposal, filling in forms and grovelling only to be told that I don’t fulfil the criteria, or I am not worthy put me off. I’m happy for others to get the money. The fact that the money comes from the National Lottery is also a little distasteful.
Instead I’m in the processes of being signed up and trained to administer the vaccine. I had applied for this some weeks ago but had heard nothing, but my sister is about to start vaccinating on the scheme and was able to put me in touch with someone directly. It’s the age old mantra of “it’s who you know”. Currently I’m not sure if it’s voluntary or paid.
I also applied for a job for the upcoming national census but was turned down.
So I’m doing as told, staying at home but for food shopping and exercise. I’m very grateful to have a wife that I get along with, so I’m enjoying being at home with her, practising my instruments, writing music, watching tv, cooking and baking. My latest triumph are some delicious cinnamon buns...