The lockdown doesn’t impact on my life as a writer, in fact it gives me more time than I had before, so if there is an impact, it’s positive. But I also play saxophone and, save for one concert, during the brief lockdown interregnum, I haven’t played live for almost a year.
Even my practice room in a local church hall is closed for the duration.
I can’t wait for the chance to play again. I don’t play in bands any more, the noise of cranked guitars was making me deaf, but I love busking in Durham and Newcastle. Plus, per hour, it’s a lot better than minimum wage , so it gives me a bit of spare cash.
Writing is a long-term thing, and the pay-off, if it comes, can be a year or two or even five down the road. Playing street saxophone on the other hand, is live, people react immediately, and while most just ignore you, some sing along or dance, and some stop me for a chat. One girl, a month or two before the lockdown, stood for ages, just listening, then began to cry – I like to think she was enjoying it rather than merely crying in pain. I’ve had musicians, smack-heads, whiskey priests and smart, elderly ladies pay me compliments. Little children sometimes wave from their pushchairs. Though to be fair, the smack-head got annoyed when I wouldn’t share my takings, and some children begin to wail in fear when they hear me.
Whatever, the reaction is instantaneous, and I like it. Even if someone isn’t directly listening to you, there’s a reaction – if you see a romantic couple walking by holding hands and you play the opening notes from The Look of Love, and you can see them squeeze their hands together for a moment, without even thinking, and that’s extremely rewarding from a human point of view. You’re contributing to the atmosphere of the place, which is the role of a musician.
And that’s before I get to the joy I experience just making noise. That joy, when I hit the zone where I’m no longer consciously thinking about what I’m playing, is awesome in its power.