The memories we have they play their games
When I first started putting these lockdown letters together, last March, I thought I might be doing them until June or July. Little did I know it would be June or July 2021.
So we've finally had the much overdue Boris-plan. The bad news is that clubs and indoor music venues are still going to be at the back of the queue and the last to reopen, but it looks like a summer of music could yet be on the cards. Already the Reading and Leeds festivals have both announced they are definitely going ahead in late August, and another major name, Bestival, has confirmed the end of July.
Where does the roadmap leave local music?
Stitching together the provisional dates from various reports, this is the overall timeline I come up with. I hope this is useful. Confusingly, the government has two "Step 1" stages in its plan, presumably because it was infatuated with the idea of each step lasting exactly five weeks.
TODAY: Friday 26th February
Full restrictions still in place for next 10 days
STEP 1 part1: From Monday 8th March to Sunday 28th March (3 weeks)
Schools return, two people allowed to meet outdoors, no meeting indoors
STEP 1 part2: From Monday 29th March to Sunday 11th April (2 weeks)
Six people allowed to meet outdoors, still no meeting indoors. Local travel allowed
STEP 2: From Monday 12th April to Sunday 16th May (5 weeks)
Non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality re-opens. Pubs allowed to serve people outdoors (table service only). Six people allowed to meet outdoors but still no meeting indoors. Travel to second homes permitted.
STEP 3: Monday 17th May to Sunday 20th June (5 weeks)
Up to 30 people at outdoor gatherings, maximum six people/two households indoors. Indoor performances permitted where social distancing can be regulated.
STEP 4: Monday 21st June onwards
All social restrictions removed. Some facemask rules may still be in place.
In step 2, pubs will be allowed to serve outdoors, provided the customers are seated, no social mixing, and it is table service only, and no requirmeent to purchase food with alcohol. Presumably this will again allow pubs to have a band playing in the outdoor area, weather permitting of course. Outdoor gatherings appears to refer to private events such as weddings etc.
In Step 3, from 17th May, the guideance says "Cinemas, museums, hotels, performances, and sporting events reopen though social distancing remains". This mention of performances appears to apply only to large venues which can provide suitable socially-distanced seating and walkways, so that's good news for all you opera buffs, but probably not much use for small venues like The Wheatsheaf or The Library.
It isn't clear what the rules for travel will be and when they change. "Local travel" is, as usual, much too vague and arbitrary, and most of us don't have second homes to go to. There is still no indication when you will be able to enjoy a day out at a beauty spot without risk of the police fining you and sending you packing? Presumably you will still be allowed to drive to Barnard Castle for an eye test.
Still some things never change
I've decided over the last year that my tastes in music are quite eclectic, but how did I ever manage to find the wierd and the wonderful before YouTube came along? One way was CDs glued to the covers of music magazines, a motley collection of tracks, because instead of just reading reviews, you could actually hear the music too. You know, that was once a revolutionary idea. I think it was from one of these freebie CDs that I first heard The Ataris playing "Teenage Riot".
A line from the chorus of this song resonates with every teen generation, "they'll never understand, what it's like to be a kid today", and I guess that is even more true this year.
I still hear the way he played his old guitar
Back in the days of record shops and the casette, I often bought sampler tapes, and it was a Cooking Vinyl sampler that led me to the best band never to come out of Australia, the wonderfully named "Weddings, Parties, Anything". This particular song, "Morton", was one of my favourites. If you enjoy bands like Firegazer, you'll probably enjoy this too.
That song was about Tex Morton, a travelling showman from 1940s New Zealand.
By the side of the sea
When vinyl ruled the roost, I'd often be at the market stall, rummaging through boxes to see what obscure oddities I could find. One day I bought a copy of Clockwork Orange for the brilliant synth work on it, unaware that there were two versions of the album, and luckily I'd bought the rarer version with a little-known bonus track on it called "I want to marry a lighthouse keeper".
I thought this track had sunk into obscurity, but thanks to the internet, others seem to have rediscovered it, and I really like that remix combined with a low-res video mash of the Nicholas Brothers, a famous dancing duo of the 1940s onwards, considered by many to be the greatest dancers of their day.
What a headache
You've probably worked out by now that I don't listen to mainstream radio that much, so I've no idea if this next track is a well-known worldwide chart topper, or a really obscure piece of club music which I just happened to hear once in a music cafe in Camden, but whatever it is, I like the strong imagery of this video, I like the relentless beat, I like the anarchic geriatric aesthetic. Maybe it is an anthem for when we come out of lockdown. It's by Spankox, (no relation to Redox) and its called "To the club".
We are on the home stretch now, so keep yourself healthy, and keep up with the facemasks, and the hand-sanitizing, and everything else, and please please please, if you have any apprehensions about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor, and reassure any friends who have been scared off by antivaxxer misinformation.