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Happy New Year (Covid Stole My Mojo in 2020)

Happy New Year one and all. Well 2020 is not going to be a year we forget in a hurry - the virus, the masks and the lock down; but being a chap who tries to remain on the glass half full side of things even when he knows it’s half empty, I feel it’s been a year of discovery more than anything else. We discovered we don’t need to fly or use a car as much, we don’t need to go out as much, we don’t need to shop as much and we hopefully will never need as much toilet roll as we thought we did! Before the arts were strangled to death, I got off to a good start by playing a sold out theatre show opening for Richard Digance on the 19th of January; little did I know at the time it was going to be my last gig in front of a live audience. I had been booked to play lots of festivals including Folk In A Field, Folk on the Pier, Fairport’s Cropredy, and was even taken on to book acts for The Aylsham Festival, all of which I was really looking forward to. I also had a few things in pubs and clubs booked including a St Patrick’s night gig at my favourite local bar with fiddle player, Sarah O'Neil (who I've wanted to perform with for a very long time). It was just before the big lock down so we were able to perform some of what we had planned live on Facebook. Sadly all other commitments were cancelled.

If somebody had said that I could not perform live in front of audiences for a year, I think I would’ve really struggled with the concept, but strangely enough I did not miss it when it happened. I threw myself into making things, painting, drawing, printing and up cycling stuff and enjoyed not having to drive all the time. A new horizon had opened for me and I knew just how lucky I was. It was a chance to evaluate what was necessary for my happiness and wellbeing. It was around this time my website disappeared along with the chap who built it and was maintaining it! Again I did not let this phase me, I was rescued by the lovely and talented Abby Pranks who got it up and running again and tried to teach me how to update it.

In June I was asked to do an hour long set on line by (the ever supportive) London Celtic Punks, and it was most enjoyable despite technology letting me down. The whole hour being filmed sideways.

I did a couple more performances on line with the Red Flags and for my sisters birthday but not a great deal.It was like Covid stole my Mojo!

Julie was put on the furlough scheme and was off work for several weeks. On her return she began to suffer from anxiety and so has remained off sick since.

It was a good chance for us to spend some quality time together we had a particularly lovely day at the seaside in Sheringham when the lockdown measures reduced in July. A couple of days later I was back in Sheringham at the Mo Museum to film and record a song co-written with Carolyn Coleman about fisherman and outsider artist John Crask. It was a great day and produced a piece of work I’m very proud of. Carolyn made a tasty packed lunch for us both and we had it at a safe social distance, sitting on the promenade.

By this time I was really missing seeing my Mam who lives in London, up until now I have been able to take her to the shops for a cup of tea. As soon as it felt safe I drove down for the day and was fortunate to get fine weather, so my surprise picnic on Plumstead Common was the perfect thing to do.

I was really enjoying getting organised and doing art projects but really struggling to do on-line performances. I forced myself to do one to celebrate Norfolk Day in late July and one for my Sister's birthday in August. I concentrated on getting my music and art equipment stored, so I took the plunge and hired a storage unit in September this was promptly filled with vinyl, CDs, books, PA systems, Guitars and music memorabilia. This was perfect timing, as Julie had paid of her mortgage in late August, and by early September she had decided to sell our home of the last 20 odd years and move in to the family home with her sister and mum, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's. A bit of a shock I have to say, but there had been so many changes happening already, what harm would another one do! Local Estate agent/auctioneers Case & Dewing handled the sale and found a buyer instantly. A lovely lady (very educated and eccentric) fell in love with it on first sight. Rather than hire a removal company, we did it all in two Skoda Roomsters, and art equipment and clothes joined my music stuff in the storage unit. We got local friend and architect to draw up some plans and we are applying for planning permission for an extension to the family home, and by the 7th of December we were all living together. So far, so good! In December I was amazingly lucky to be able to go down to see my Mum again, and the day after London went into Tier 4, was a no go area. Also in December, my lovely Uncle Ricky was taken by covid and his funeral will be a very quiet affair, however I'm so glad I got to write a song with him. On a happier note, a really close school friend who I hadn't seen since the mid 1980's and I had assumed he dead due to his very heavy drug use, turned up on Facebook we started messaging each other, chatting on the phone and it's like we've never been a part.

Back in 2018 my mate Ken and I got work as scare actors at Prime Evil (Norfolk Scare Park) for October,I did the same in 2019. Also I worked through November and December at the Thursford Christmas Spectacular, an amazing show in a fantastic place, run by lovely people. I applied for both again in 2020, but Prime Evil got cancelled and Thursford had been scaled down to much smaller event. It was quite a relief that no work was on offer, as the house move was taking up all my time and energy, but no sooner had we got moved in than Thursford contacted me. I was delighted that I was able to get a few days as a 'meet & greet' member of staff at the event, it was hard work but fun. I had to keep people moving through the attraction and make sure they were socially distanced and wearing masks. I decided my job title should have been 'Santa's little bouncer'!

This was the first New Year we did not see in with my family in London and although it was a bit strange, I'm still counting my blessings. Some say things happen for a reason and it's weird that last year before any of this, Julie and I decided it would be our last summer holiday in Majorca. So that was one less thing to worry about, as we would have usually have booked our flights well before all of this started and I am sure that we would have had no end of trouble getting our money back from the budget airline we used to go with.

We are very happy in our new home with Julie's Mum, sister and the cutest little dog called, Archie. We had a lovely Christmas as a family and are looking forward to positive changes in 2021.

Thanks for reading this and I hope this coming year brings all of us some happiness as after 2020 we could sure use some good news!

Happy New Year xxx

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