Well, where should we begin?! This time last year we were about to head to Aarhus, Denmark for a workshop and joint concert with some local choirs. It was our last European gig before we headed to the US. A month later we arrived back in the UK, and our world was about to turn upside down within approximately one week. Before long we were in lockdown 1.0. Since then, I’ve lost track of what number lockdown we’re up to. In a way, it’s kind of felt like one continuous lockdown with a variety of restrictions that have came and gone and come again. The Government’s encouragement in the middle of the year – Eat out to help out – provided much needed income to businesses. I’m not 100% sure it did much to ease the spread of the virus and we find ourselves in the strictest lockdown of them all at the moment. I don’t believe there’d been that much talk in the media about Level 5 last year but it’s very much a thing now. Basically, become a hermit and save lives. The more I see my family and friends back home on the islands of New Zealand, I can’t help but think that a different strategy a year ago by the UK couldn’t reaped rather different results. The numbers are staggering in terms of the spread of the virus and those that’ve lost their lives. Don’t get me wrong, NZ and the UK have vastly different demographics and it would be wrong of me to think that a like-for-like strategy would’ve worked. I always said though that governments around the world would be judged retrospectively on their approach to handling this pandemic. Right now, you can’t tell me the UK got it right. And it’s a tough pill to swallow when you throw into the mix the glaring lack of adequate support, both strategically and financially, to the Arts community.
As I sit here and write this on a sunny-ish day in Oxford, I genuinely have NO idea when the six of us will perform to a live audience again. It’s a scary prospect. To date, exactly 100 concerts have been cancelled since March 2020. The impact on not just us as artists but all those promoters, agents, venues, staff, volunteers, audience members etc is increasingly difficult to quantify. No one has not been affected. It makes the two days of live performances that did go ahead after March – Bad Sooden Allendorf, September 19, 2020 & Snape Maltings, December 22, 2020 – all the more poignant.
So yeah, looking back on 2020, brings a wave of different emotions. On the plus side, I spent close to 300 days of the year with Liz. I visited NZ twice. I have a new nephew. I was able to catch up with so many more friends and family at the click of a button. I’ve binge watched a whole raft of Netflix series. My cooking’s improved. My working relationship and off-stage friendship with my five KS amigos is better than ever. I have a roof over my head, a warm sanctuary to spend time in, food on the table…lots to be grateful for. And I know that no matter how hard I find it at times, there are millions, literally millions of others around the world struggling with life more than I could ever fathom. This context helps bring me back to reality and so if there’s any way I can bring a bit of joy to people around the world then it’ll have to be remotely for now. Social media, as we’ve seen, has the power to spread misinformation. It also has the power to connect and right now we need to remain positive and connected.
Hang in there and tell those you love how much they mean to you. As the late, great hero Captain Sir Tom said, ‘Tomorrow will be a good day’. Let’s keep his memory going by looking forward and not back. He’d like that.
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