I started 2020 full of optimism and with great plans for an exciting year.
I had promised myself that the FD and I would get 30 days away on holiday and duly organised trips to Holland and Germany, France, Italy and Estonia.
How quickly life can turn from a bowl of cherries to a bowl of toenails!
Our first trip at the end of January was to Holland and Germany, taking in three Wishbone Ash gigs and catching up with friends from across Europe. The trip in itself was great but things back home meant that it soon became devastating as my mum sadly passed away with us helpless and away.
My mum had deteriorated dramatically in recent weeks with her dementia taking, what proved to be a “death hold.” Fortunately she passed away peacefully in her sleep in the wonderful care of the team at Whiteplains Care Home in Denham. My son and daughter were with her in the last 24 hours before she passed and I know that she wanted to go and has hopefully now been reunited somewhere with dad, whom she missed so much. I’m only sorry that I wasn’t physically present, but, in reality, I would have been just as helpless as I was at a distance.
We did organise a wonderful funeral and it was an uplifting day to see so many relatives, old friends and neighbours attend. My brother Chris and I both gave eulogies that would have embarrassed mum greatly but brought some light to a dark time.
I am now sorting out the estate and arranging to settle the IHT bill but this is currently being hampered by the covid-19 crisis.
I had attended a decent number of gigs before the pandemic set in and had lots planned. As well as Wishbone Ash and support Doris Brendel, I had seen Papa George and Micky Moody, Oli Brown, The Cinelli Brothers and Bad Influence and had gigs lined up over the period until the half year seeing Dan Reed, Pat McManus, The Mentulls, Roadhouse, The Good Old Boys, Stevie Nimmo, Catfish as well as four more Wishbone Ash gigs in France. Understandably all have been cancelled.
Spare a thought for these artists. Since the advent of Spotify they no longer make their money from albums – they make their money from doing gigs. Back in the day an artist would do a tour to promote an album, now they bring out an album to promote a tour. Without a tour the revenues from Spotify etc wouldn’t feed a sparrow. Spotify will give an artist “reach” but not revenue.
If you are a fan of a particular act, please buy a CD or a T shirt as merch is pretty much all some have got at the moment.
Our May trip to France is, of course, now shelved and so are our September plans at the lakes in Northern Italy. Our New Year trip to Estonia is currently hanging gallantly in there on our calendar.
At home we have an issue with water. We apparently have a mains water leak, identified by a water meter spinning round like a helicopter blade and using around £400 a month of water!
The water company dug up the road – no joy. They came and reinstated the road. They came and dug up my driveway – no joy. They came and reinstated the driveway and announced that they were “washing their hands” of it and I needed to get onto my insurers.
As I write, the insurers contractors are, guess what? Digging up my driveway!
With the UK in “lock down” we moved Sue’s mum in with us and we are grateful for having East, West, North and South wings at Integra Towers where we can manage to get a safe distance from each other and not be at each others throats – mind you its only been a fortnight so far!
Sue suffers with mobility issues and her regular steroid injection appointment has been cancelled and so she is in agony at the moment. On a more positive note I have been accepted for a free trial of a diabetic monitoring device which I hope will help me better manage my blood sugar level control which has been poor of late.
The current situation is hard for everyone and we miss seeing our children and grandchildren although they are only a phone, Whatsapp, Facetime or Zoom call away. When we come through this, we will have one hell of a family get-together!
I’ve already mentioned the shut down of live music – fortunately we can all still listen to our favourite artists and keep ourselves motivated and sane. I have recently bought the new CDs from Wishbone Ash (Coat of Arms), Sari Schorr (Live in Europe) and Clare Free (Where are you now?) – they are all excellent!
Football is also obviously off the agenda and, at the present time, there seems no easy way of bringing the current season to a close. Watford are hovering just above the relegation zone but any decision taken that does not included finishing the programme will obviously be a tough one for those expecting to win leagues or who are threatened with relegation. I shall watch with interest to see what happens.
Finally, my new car has not been delivered! I took the decision towards the end of last year to go electric and have had a charging point installed at home. My Jaguar iPace HSE is currently sitting in a yard somewhere unable to be delivered due to the current crisis. It doesn't matter too much as I'm not exactly driving around much at the moment. Hopefully, when delivery day occurs, the reality will live up to the expectation!
Anyway, certainly not the best start to a year and the next quarter looks equally challenging and difficult for everyone. We are, of course, all in this together and need to rally round and help each other get through these tough times.
I have always prided myself on my personal strength and ability to concentrate on the things I can control and not worry about the things I can't. This has been severely tested in recent weeks but I am now looking forward and know that, after a period of fear, uncertainty and immense challenge, we will prevail.
Stay positive, stay strong and stay safe.