First gig in three months...
So gradually the lockdown has been relaxed over the last three months. We were walking around our neighbourhood this week and passed a tree that had been in beautiful blossom in March / April. It reminded us that the daily half hour walks were all we had been allowed, other than shopping for essentials. Now we can drive to places, enjoy the countryside and go for long walks. Although there are no public toilets and pubs and cafes aren’t generally open (except for take-away service) so unless you’re happy relieving yourself in a public space it does limit how far / long you can go.
The weather has turned warm again, and last week we met some friends for a picnic one evening in Regents Park. Until then we had only spoken on a video conference and it reminded us all what a poor substitute this was for real face-to-face socialising. We brought our own picnics, and sat apart, but it was a real joy just to chat and share our experiences, and to plan for things we’d do in the future when the virus no longer controlled our lives.
I did also have a Zoom call with two friends from university days, one of whom lives in the USA. We would never normally have thought to do this, and it was a nice reminder that even if video calls aren’t perfect they are better than nothing.
One of our friends who made a living working for a concert hall, acting, and being a barber has lost all his work. He has kept himself busy re-decorating his flat but has reached the point when he’s seeing his future potentially looking pretty bleak and it’s really hitting home for him. Another friend who had been singing regularly for the Royal Opera House is seeing her career that she has trained for for decades possibly disappearing for good. I still feel my gigging work will slowly crank back into action, although it may be years before I’m back to five or six gigs a week, assuming I want it to get back to that. This week I would have been playing every day at Royal Ascot races from 10am till 3pm on and off, as well as gigs in the evening elsewhere.
I’m steadily working on my lockdown recordings – my latest, “Mitford March”, has been pieced together with a clarinet and piccolo parts coming from Northamptonshire, trumpet parts from Oxfordshire, and drums from nearby in London, on top of my trombone and tuba parts. It’s exciting to receive the recordings from the others and hear it in its entirety sounding like a 10 piece military band!
Continuing the theme of gatherings in gardens, me and my sisters when up to my mum’s to celebrate her partner’s birthday with a glass of prosecco, cup of tea cake and biscuits.
Also my wife and I took our inflatable kayak over to Tower Hamlets to explore a canal loop there (the “Limehouse Loop”). It felt like our first proper outing since March – a little adventure, although sadly once we eventually found a car park that was open we realised that we’d left the pump behind so we went for a walk instead. We discovered local parks full of wildflowers, and the beautiful “Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park” - an old and fairly derelict cemetery that invites the public to wander around and enjoy the flora and fauna.
So I’m looking forward to my first gig in three months tomorrow. I'll be playing in the gardens of a care home nearby with a piano playing friend of mine. The windows of the home will be open so that the residents can enjoy the music, and it’s sponsored by a charity that believes in providing live music for those that can’t get out. I’m expecting it to be a slightly weird experience getting back to playing with people on a gig. I hope I’m not too rusty and my trombone playing ‘embouchure’ doesn’t let me down – the muscles in my lips need to be kept in shape for me to be able to play what I want to play. I’ve been doing a bit of regular practice but until the lockdown my many gigs would generally be enough to keep things in shape.