AND SO, in an instant, life changes. It’s been heartbreaking cancelling or postponing everything until the summer, in the knowledge that I may well have to cancel a lot more.
Performing poems and songs in front of people has been my living for 40 years and a part of my life for several before that. Socially and culturally it’s absolutely devastating.
I am gregarious and extrovert. I love writing, honing and, crucially, performing the work I have written, meeting people and downing pints — showing off, as my wife calls it.
Economically it’s a big blow. We’ll be OK but, despite Rishi Sunak’s huge financial package, millions of people aren’t going to be OK.
As an aside, it shows that austerity was always a cruel, unnecessary imposition. It has killed thousands and reduced many more to penury and misery for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I earn my living doing gigs and it’s not by chance that the defining individual feature of my profession has been transformed into a modern-day buzzword for work insecurity. The gig economy. Gig. A single, standalone performance for which one is paid, which by its very nature has no long-term job security, no pension rights, no sick pay.
This is why for many of my fellow performers this shutdown will be economically as well as culturally devastating.
But most single, standalone “gigs” in the gig economy don’t involve standing on stage for an hour performing.
For those “performers” a “gig” is an individual delivery or taxi journey and the “performer” has to do countless “gigs” in one day to earn enough to survive.
And if the situation for many of those in my world is desperate, for those people it is as bad, or worse. We at least are doing something we love. Many of them are not. And, as it stands, none of us are getting any support from Sunak.
He is supporting big business and some small business but not, as I write this, the “gig economy.” And we need it too.
The most wonderful development in this time of crisis is the way that countless performers have already started setting up online gigs and festivals.
In the forefront, as ever, is Joe Solo and his We Shall Overcome initiative, with the first Isolation Festival on Saturday April 11, details at facebook.com/groups/isolationfest/
There are countless more all over the place. Just search. You’ll find them.
And since I can’t gig anywhere else, I’m doing a tour of the house. I’ll be Live from the Office at 8pm tonight at facebook.com/attilathestockbroker. Poems, songs, pets, Joseph Porter’s Sleeping Bag!
You wait till I get to the toilet. The acoustics are fantastic. But it’s the spare room next week. I’ll leave you with this. Stay safe. United in isolation!
This little rap’s here to inspire us
Not to get coronavirus
Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus
They don’t want coronavirus
It’s a disease carried on the breeze
(Piss off Trump, it’s not Chinese)
It’s a disease carried on the breeze
And none of us would like it please
Bloody hell! It’s a pandemic
Running through the world at a rate systemic
(Just to spell out my position
I’m 62 with a lung condition)
Let’s all try hard to avoid it
Till researchers have destroyed it
Don’t get cranky, don’t be a fogey —
Use that hanky, bin that bogey!
Please be kind and give assistance
In a way that keeps a distance
Get your normal shopping done —
There’s enough for everyone
Panic buying? Stupid caper.
Put back all that toilet paper.
What a crappy, shit idea.
Local pub delivers BEER!
New dance called the Pontius Pilate.
Time we all learn to freestyle it
Water, hands and a bar of soap —
Clean under a microscope
(No, don’t scratch your dirty bridge
Then go down and raid the fridge)
Please keep safe and please keep well.
CORONAVIRUS — GO TO HELL