Doing the one-man conga
Here we are again, the first Friday of another month and still no Klub Kakofanney. I really thought I'd have stopped doing these lockdown letters by now, but I was thinking the same thing last August as well. At least this month it is only because of lack of a suitable venue, and not because fun is forbidden. We are still trying to secure a venue for next month, but for now, it is another night of doing the one-man conga around the living room whilst the neighbour's cat stares at me through the window.
Taking it for granted
During this last week, the Scottish singer songwriter KT Tunstall has put all future live performances on hold due to hearing problems in her right ear. She has already lost all hearing in her left ear. She is in no doubt that this is the result of damage from years of exposure to loud music without hearing protection, something she now regrets. She points to her 20's when she says she was "always cranking the volume up on bad monitors at my early gigs". Once your hearing is gone, it's gone. Don't take it for granted.
Whether you are a musician, a sound engineer, or just a member of the audience, consider wearing earplugs at gigs to protect your precious hearing. Please don't dream up lame excuses that you can't hear properly when wearing them, because you sure can't hear when you are deaf. Find a type of earplug which works well for you and learn to use them before it is too late. And musicians, you really do influence people more than you might know, so please set a good example to others. I don't want anyone destroying their ability to enjoy music just because they thought earplugs were uncool.
Expanding your cultural horizons
Did you know there is a Finnish word "kalsarikännit" which means sitting at home, alone, in your pants, getting drunk. Honestly, you really will find it in the Finnish dictionary. Finns are trilingual and the translation into both Swedish and English is "pantsdrunk". So if someone asks if you used your time profitably during lockdown, you can tell them you spent a lot of it absorbing Finnish culture. Want to know how to pronounce "kalsarikännit"? Here is a Finnish rampunk picnic featuring Kimmo Liskomaen's band where you will hear it mentioned once or twice. The song is called "Pitkat kalsarikännit" which I think means being pantsdrunk in big pants. I love the feelgood vibe in this home video.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Kalsarikännit hasn't really made it into English yet. Not many Finnish words do. I can only think of three words in English which you will have heard of that are of Finnish origin? They are all concerned with leisure and have a connection with each other? Do you know what they are and what the connection is? Answer at the bottom of the page.
Whatever happened to the Nightingales?
I was searching for info on what had happened to the Nightingale white elephant hospitals, but was sidetracked to The Nightingales with a capital T, a punk band from 1979 who had supported The Clash on tour. Whatever happened to them? They are still performing, albeit with many replacement band members over the years. This is a terrific video of one of their songs from a few years ago. It's called "Too much choice".
That is such a sophisticated video, and yet at the same time it is very simple and clean, and a nicely implemented idea which catches you by surprise. No sci-fi trips through wormholes to show you how clever the videographer was, just real people doing something slightly unexpected which helps focus on the music.
If hangovers were contagious,....
If you haven't been jabbed yet, just do it. When you are vaccinated, as well as protecting yourself, you are also protecting others who cannot be vaccinated, people like Pete Parada, the LA-based drummer with The Offspring. Parada has struggled for most of his life with a damaged immune system caused by Guillain-Barré syndrome. For people with his rare condition, vaccination is a complete no-no. He did contract covid last year but managed a full recovery. However, he has found he cannot go on tour with the band, not because of concerns for his own health, but because his unvaccinated status makes him persona non grata with the venue owners who won't let him through the door.
If you are still worried about vaccination side-effects, please talk to your doctor about your concerns, or at least talk to someone who can answer your questions honestly. Please don't turn to the armchair warriors of Facebook who believe science is evil and covid is a government plot. You are deluding yourself if you think Westminster could manage a conspiracy on this scale? They couldn't organise a bun fight in a bakery, (but they'd still claim it was a world-beating bunfight and put an ex-public schoolboy in charge).
Learning to live with it
It annoys me so much when I hear the Boris fan club saying "It's time to start learning to live with Covid" as if we just have to man up, puff out our chests, and declare that we are British and stare the little blighter down. We've had 18 months to learn to live with it but still the government can only bleat soundbites such as "world-beating vaccine programme" and "freedom day" and "unprecedented". Learning to live with any disease, whether it's covid or cholera, HIV or diabetes, means changing our lifestyles and adapting our behaviour. It doesn't mean getting indignant and saying the people at risk from covid were going to die anyway.
Before you go to a gig...
If you are heading out this weekend, whether it is a rock gig, a movie at the cinema, taking part in a wine-tasting evening, or limbering up for a spot of no-holds barred cage fighting, remember to double check the venue's website before you go, to make sure the event is still going ahead. Check to see if they have imposed any entry requirements such as Covid certificates and photo ID. If the Covid pass is on your phone, make sure your phone is fully charged. Some places now only take contactless payments, not cash, which is convenient, but do try to set yourself a limit on what you can afford to spend, just as you would if it was notes and coins in your pocket.
When you are at the gig...
Please, be considerate of others, and give people space when you can. It is a good idea to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you, and not rely on the venue to have adequate supplies. If they sell bottled drinks, maybe choose one of those instead of a glass, because the narrow bottle neck protects your drink much better from airborne particles than the wide mouth of a glass would.
Take a facemask
Remember it is still okay for you to wear a facemask, even if no-one else is wearing them, and it is okay to ignore people who try to use peer pressure and tell you masks are for wusses. Consider masking up while you are watching the band, as we all talk louder in gigs, and we get up close so that we can drunkenly shout in someone's ear. Wear your mask in the toilets because those hand dryers circulate a lot of very questionable air in a confined space. Please don't be one of those people that discards used masks on the floor so it becomes someone else's problem. Why on earth do they do that? What is wrong with them? It's disgusting.
Billy, don't be a hero (bonus Pavlovian points if you automatically responded with "Paper Lace")
Even if you have been double-vaccinated, if you have any Covid symptoms at all, do the right thing, take a test, and self-isolate for a couple of days, until you are absolutely sure you are not contagious. Don't be selfish. Please don't think it is heroic to take a stiff drink, battle through it, and croak to those around you "Don't worry about me, I'll be okay". This isn't about you, and no matter how desperate you are to go to a gig again, another week won't kill you.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Those three words of Finnish origin found in English are: (1) Sauna, although the Finnish pronunciation is sou-na, more like the "sou" sound in "south". (2) Kantele, a musical instrument, a type of twelve string box zither, and (3) Salmiakki, a stupidly strong vodka salt liquorice liqueur with a kick like a donkey that can floor a buffalo. And when you finally stop hallucinating after the salmiakki and your vision returns, you find yourself pantsdrunk in a sauna, finger-plucking your kantele, (and try saying that when you've got a hangover).