I’ve haven’t blogged for a long while. In the long months of Covid lockdown, i found myself doing new things to try and keep my head together, and to help others who needed a bit of a cheer up. In normal times apart from working for the Farmer Network and continuing to do some auctioneering, i sing in a band called the Soul Survivors. From March 2020 all our gigs disappeared. One night i did my first ever live stream on social media. i dedicated it to a young couple whose wedding had just been cancelled when lockdown kicked in.
I sat at my piano and sang a very average version of “Don’t let the sun catch you crying” by Gerry & The Pacemakers. I thought i would get laughed at but was amazed to find that some people watched it and actually seemed to enjoy it. In fact i was asked if i would do it again the following night. This i did for the next 4 months, live- streaming every night, sometimes from the house, sometimes from the garden.
I couldn’t believe it as more and more people started to join me at 8pm each evening. I watched the messages dancing up my phone screen as i sang. Friends unable to meet were having text conversations with each other and with me. We had banter and fun. It seemed we were all keeping mind and body together with each other.
One Friday night instead of the usual two or three songs i put together a longer one hour show from my office/ music studio. I set up some band lights and called it “Friday night is Party night”. Thereafter for many weeks, Friday night became party night as friends from across the world joined me live or viewed the show. We all had a drink with us, some more than one! At regular intervals after a song or two, i called out “Cheers”! and we drank in unison.
By July lockdown restrictions were being lifted. I was able to go to the local pub. That was the signal to end my live streaming. I was honoured and proud of the many comments of support and sadness from some of my friends who said they would miss the 8pm music slot. I sat on the wall outside the pub, happy in my pint but reflecting on how music had brought many of us together each night. It was never about the quality of the performance or the musical selections which were often very average, but more about the sense of community and friendship during a time of hardship for some. I never intended for this to happen, it just did!
In November 2020 more lockdown restrictions were announced. No more pub, no more socialising, not that there had been much going on. Myself and the rest of our band had remained redundant for the last 6 months. I started to get messages from people asking if i would do another “Friday night is party night” to cheer them up. I needed it too, so the office was turned into a stage again and i put together a 30 minute show. I ended up doing 75 minutes. All my old chums had returned to listen and take part. Messages and greetings were flying up the screen again, and those “likes and loves” for certain songs gladdened my heart. I actually felt like a proper musician again.
I did a Friday night 80’s night, then a swing night and then it was Christmas. My Christmas on line show had more than 5,500 views. Then all of a sudden it was New Years Eve. Few people had any desire to go out, so my 2 hour show from 8pm to 10pm attracted a lot of attention. Crazy times, lonely people, just trying to make the best of it, dancing around the kitchen table. Little people dancing with mum and dad before bed, watching me on the TV. 94 year old Gladys who loved the old swing tunes as it brought back memories of her late husband and their courting days. These nights made me feel worthwhile and alive, like i was doing something positive in my own mediocre way.
The year turned and a third lock down was introduced. Once again i was being requested to start the nightly’s again. I could not say no. So every night i did a couple of tunes saying hello to people who tuned in every night without fail including my own mother and father who never missed. Sometimes there were sad messages to purvey, friends very ill, people we knew well passing away. But always the message had to be “We will get through this”!
Friday night continued to be party night. We did an elvis night and a country music night. We carried on for another three months. It gave me something to look forward to each evening until finally lockdown restrictions started to ease. The finale show came on Friday 9th April. i knew this would be the end and we all welcomed it with open arms. Even so it seemed like the end of an era somehow. I was sure there would be lots of good stuff to look forward to as we slowly returned to normality. Through all of it i had made new friends, found old ones, lost some, and i had a huge repertoire of over 1100 songs that i had learned and performed in the grainy flashing light of my office/ stage in front of an international audience from Africa to New Zealand
Now it is August 2021. Most Covid bets are off although it is still out there. The Soul Survivors are up and running again and i’ve got quite a few gigs happening. We are in catch up mode. Once again i’m starting to think about writing as we move towards whatever the new normality will bring. So now that you know what I’ve been up to, you can expect to see more of the usual stuff about farming, rugby and lots of tales to tell from the past. I hope this is of interest. We’ll put the lockdown stuff to bed and remember it for what it was. I always said that we would get through. Most of us did but of course we spare a thought and perhaps a tear for those that we knew and loved, that did not………