This week marked the second anniversary of the first Corona Virus lockdown. I must admit the past 2 years have somehow blurred into each other. There have been momentous family events that have left their mark, but I really do have to think carefully when trying to remember things like; which year of lockdown did my father pass away and when did I start performing in public again.
The Empty Streets, March 2022
As a family we took lockdown extremely seriously. With elderly parents and young grandchildren to consider we were always going to want to keep them safe. Then, when my daughter had a message from an old college friend working in public health saying that we didn’t have a clue how bad the pandemic was going to be, we soon followed her lead. Apart from exceptional circumstances we cut all the ties we could outside of the family bubble.
And it worked. For two years we have stuck swabs up our noses and down our throats, gagging and sneezing in equal measure and been rewarded with a single red line showing that we were virus free. Oh…there was one moment when my sons who came home from London thought it would be hilarious if they added a second red line to their mother’s test on Christmas Day. As you can imagine it wasn’t the great comedic moment they had anticipated and I’m sure it delayed the turkey by a good couple of hours.
When I say it worked, what I mean is it almost worked. As I read the headlines on social media and saw the news reports this week marking the second anniversary of Lockdown I also held in my hand a test with the dreaded 2 lines showing I was corona virus positive. I had started to feel a little unwell a week before the anniversary. My symptoms were relatively mild, a headache and runny nose. On day 1 my first test was negative, on day 2, thinking I probably just have a cold I tested again to be on the safe side…after 15 mins I thought I could see a feint second red line. I decided I would go for a PCR test at Swansea Airport and with 24 hours the results came back…I had it!
When I got the test result I had a lot of different thoughts all at the same time. In some ways I was pleased to finally get it out of the way. I had been ‘triple’ boosted so my immune system was just about as prepared as it could be to fight the virus and the reports were that the current strain wasn’t as dangerous as previous variants.
Then I started thinking about who I had been with since starting to feel unwell. In many ways the timing was also pretty good. I had performed a number of concerts but those had been done under Covid secure rules so limited interaction with the audience. Having been out and about I had also gone into a family exclusion rule for 5 days and it was at the end of that period that I tested positive.
Each day I would hope the lines would disappear which they stubbornly refused to do. First I missed a Swansea home game and then I had to make the decision to cancel a weekend of concerts in Builth Wells and Cardigan. Those dates were from my original 2020 Tour and had already been rearranged numerous times. Fair play to the audience who bought their tickets 2 years ago. Most have held onto them without asking for a refund and now they can’t use them until November. Before long I’ll have to start sending their tickets birthday cards!!!
One of the side effects of the virus that many people cite is feeling tired. Now if I’m honest I wasn’t sure if it was a side effect of the virus or whether it was sheer boredom. I know many people seem to think lying in bed watching TV all day is their idea of heaven but by day 4 it started to feel like purgatory and then it turned into a living hell. Homes under the Hammer, Escape to the country, Bargain Hunt, Pointless and Tipping Point all have their place. In fact in normal times I quite like to wile away 20 minutes just dipping in. By day 7 I was losing the will to fight the virus. There’s a Bruce Springsteen song called ’57 Channels and nothin’ on’. Obviously, Bruce wrote that before the days of Netflix and Prime Video because these days 57 seems like a gross underestimate.
Thankfully the weather was pretty good so I would take a break in the garden trying to get some sun on my skin, but it wasn’t long before I was back in bed looking for something to distract me.
But for all of my boredom and moaning I knew I was lucky.
Being stuck in a room with only a TV for company it was hard not to become addicted to the horrific news coming out of Ukraine. Ion the early days of isolation I would watch the headlines on the hour, every hour. Eventually I realised it wasn’t doing me any good, BUT, it certainly made me count my blessings.
Then there was the story Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. At first acclaimed as a heroine before facing a back lash from certain corners of the media and internet who described her as being ungrateful when she raised the question of why it had taken so long for 5 different Foreign Secretaries to obtain her release.
As I read about her life in solitary confinement…well, I counted even more blessings.
Finally, I am now testing negative for Covid and apart from a little cough I think I’m back to normal. That’s an odd thing to say isn’t it, normal. Over the past 2 years we have lost family and friends without being able to hold, them or say goodbye properly and in the last month we have seen Europe being torn apart in a vicious cruel war. We have a world where climate change threatens our future existence and a cost of living crisis that looks set to damage the least able members of our community.
I don’t like this new normal and I don’t think I’m the only one. Maybe we feel we are helpless to change things, but we must not give up hope. One of the documentaries I watched during lockdown was about the Soul Singer Sam Cooke. His big song was ‘A Change is Gonna to come’. After 2 years of lockdown and a time to re-evaluate our priorities, for me, that change can’t come soon enough.
(My current single SO SAD stands at No 25 in the Heritage Chart. You can support the record by voting for it here.https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/522BLGP Mal x )