Around the world but stuck at home.

It has been the oddest week.  It feels as if I have been all over the world chatting to people and I haven’t really left the confines of my home; the reason being, I wasn’t allowed to leave home. 

It started on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. I was getting ready to go and spend some time in the garden with children and granddaughter when my mobile rang.  I didn’t recognise the number but answered anyway fully expecting it to be someone trying to sell me something.

Then came the opening line that they must have read many times from a well-used script.  They were from the Government’s Track and Trace team. I had been flagged as being in contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid.

I suppose after so many dodgy phone calls from people claiming to be this, that or the other I am naturally very suspicious but after a little while it soon became clear that this phone call was for real.  I just couldn’t work out how I had been flagged. They don’t actually tell you who has reported you as being close to them and as I have been super cautious I was surprised to say the least. 

After the initial shock, my sensible head soon kicked into gear.  I rang everyone in my bubble and told them to stay away.  Next I booked an appointment at the Liberty Stadium Drive through test centre.  I completed the form online; it was very straightforward.

At the Stadium car park, I was greeted by people in gowns and masks.  There was no real fuss, just a swab down my throat and up my nose and within minutes I was done.  The nurse who took my sample said the results would be back in 72 hours but maybe even sooner if lucky.

Whilst being initially disappointed by all this of, when it sank in I realised that the news wasn’t all bad. 

Being made to isolate at home at the start of the European Championships, with up to 3 live games every day, well it had its benefits too.  I had the perfect excuse not to miss a match.

My phone pinged early Sunday morning with the results to my test.  It barely took 12 hours or so and they were negative.  A good start I thought although the virus can take a number of days to show up in tests so there is a good reason to isolate for 10 days.

Mid-morning, I had my first return call from Track and Trace.  A very nice lady asked if I had any symptoms.  I said no.  She then confirmed my negative test result.  As we ended our conversation she said, ‘Well I won’t keep you any longer on this lovely sunny day’ to which I replied, ‘that’s’ all very well but I can’t leave the house can I?’  She did laugh.

Not long after I left Swansea and headed for Brooklyn for www.thefaceradio.com In the old days when you released a new record you had to tour the country visiting various radio stations all for a 15 minute chat live on air.  I remember for my first record release in 1974 I had to fly from London to Manchester to speak to BBC Radio Manchester and Radio Piccadilly.  The following weekend I flew to Plymouth for a Westward TV show presented by Angela Rippon called ‘Young Eyes’.

Over the years technology has made things easier.  Interviews on the phone became more accepted, although radio stations don’t really like them because they can be a little ropey.  Then came the days of studios with ISDN connections to the world.  Record companies would book a studio in Central London, wheel their artists in for the day and line up interview after interview with radio stations around the country.

One of the amazing things about this pandemic and lockdown is that we have all moved on quickly with communication technology and the quality of the technology has also moved on leaps and bounds as well.  For me to appear on a radio station in Brooklyn I first had to send the new record to the presenter, DJ Andy Davies, who is based in France.  He then sent my audio over the internet to the US whilst I joined in with the programme contributing via WhatsApp in Swansea.

Sunday was a pretty good day with the record getting its first play on BBC Radio 2 on Good Morning Sunday presented by Jason Mohammad. I also got the news that the record had been added to the BBC Radio Wales A List. 

On Monday morning I still felt, well, normal.  I started the day making sure all of the interviews were in the calendar.  My promotions man had lined up chats with radio stations from BBC Radio Scotland and National FM in the highlands to any number of BBC Radio stations in Bristol, Shrewsbury, Berkshire, Kent…

All of these interviews would be conducted over the internet in near perfect audio quality.  As well as giving the artist the opportunity to easily reach a worldwide audience it also gives radio stations the opportunity to interview people they might not have had the chance to talk to in the past.  All of this also meant we didn’t have to drive or fly anywhere and add to pollution and our carbon footprint.

Having resigned myself to 10 days at home I answered the phone to my Test and Trace handler on Monday expecting no change.  After checking my symptoms, I didn’t have any, I asked him did he know who had reported me as a contact as I really couldn’t think how it had happened.  He asked me to hold and went to check ‘my connections’.  When he came back he said that he had to speak to his supervisor and could he call back.  15 minutes later he called to say that the original report had now proved negative and that I was free to go!!!

Can I be honest?  I had mixed emotions.  I was delighted to be told I wasn’t in danger but on the other hand I was quite looking forward to an enforced home imprisonment with loads of football.  I thought it best to come clean but still took a home test every day.  (They’ve all been negative).

By Wednesday I was able to leave the house confident enough to get a special photograph with artist Carolyn Little.  When I was looking for an image to represent the new summer single I came across some of Carolyn’s work. 

https://www.atticgallery.co.uk/index.php/our-artists/carolyn-little.html

She very kindly allowed me to use one of her pieces.  I sent it to my son Jackson in London with a brief for something that said summer.  A few days later he came back with a psychedelic cover that has really helped open doors.  I had only spoken to Carolyn via phone or email so I thought with the record coming up this week it would be good to actually get a photograph of us together with the original image. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, perfect for an outdoor social distanced photo shoot.

Carolyn Little, the artist who painted the original image used for song cover.

Next week looks pretty much the same.  More interviews about the record and more time needing to be spent on Social Media amplifying any good news to the world of twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Of course, the interest in this record won’t last forever so I’ve started planning for the future.  I’ve just got the tinsel and Christmas tree down from the loft as it’s now time to record December’s festive offering. 

Ho, Ho, Ho everyone!!!

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