How are you coping without live music?

“If money can’t buy happiness, I guess I’ll have to rent it!”

Words to that effect by Weird Al Yankovic from a time gone by spoofing a time gone by before even then. Though I always imagined the music video to have been far more upbeat when I first heard the song. Because we are being encouraged by ministers to spend our money on ‘stuff’ – consumer goods and eating out, but [and with good reason given the medical advice and experience from around the world] the things that helped keep my mental ill health demons away are still under lockdown.

The 30th Birthday of The Junction in Cambridge

It is actually 30 years old this year. I’m just about old enough to remember what the site looked like before it was built.

I stumbled across an archive aerial photograph of South Cambridge taken in 1987 and uploaded onto the Cambridge Digital Library here. Above is a detail showing what are rubble-covered level ground made up of brick dust – the colour of the rubble indicating that the bricks were made from local brickworks many moons ago. (Our local brick is pale-coloured due to local geology).

I added a couple of things to an art project that local artist Hilary Cox Condron was organising that like everything else got hit by the lockdown in the face of the CoronaVirus outbreak.

…but she did manage to record a short piece for what seems to be a now seriously cut-back local TV station. It reminded me of some of my early gigs in the 1990s that I was briefly discussing with local young musician Sophie Winter. (She’s got a very soothing alto voice – her track For the glory is a wonderful example of it).


Autumn’s acid test for the arts

This goes not just for the venues but for schools and colleges as well. In my previous blogpost I asked what exams are for given what we’re learning about the political and educational establishments may have over-emphasised their importance. From another part of the political matrix comes the question of what people want or like to remember from their school days. Is it all that preparation for, and then taking exams every single summer? Or is it the more fun and creative stuff? If it’s the latter, why spend so much time and effort on exams that, as I mentioned have a very short half-life in the world of work? The problem is with the restrictions due to the CoronaVirus, group activities for all of us – whether at school, college, or in community leisure pursuits, will keep most things closed off.

I’ve still not seen any guidance that enables large musical ensembles to rehearse. I’ve still not seen any venue that has managed to overhaul its seating plan to enable large crowds to watch performances safely indoors. The outbreaks in other countries that had otherwise got things under control traced more than a few outbreaks to leisure events and venues. Don’t expect night clubs to be reopening anytime soon. And if production companies and performers cannot rehearse, that inevitably will have an impact on what they can produce and put on as/when/if the restrictions are lifted.

We can’t buy our way out of the mental malaise either – despite the exhortations of ministers

In the grand scheme of things the calls from ministers are about as useful as the periodical ‘buy British’ campaigns that happened in the 20th Century as a means to stimulate domestic economies and deal with the balance of payments crises. Out of the various self-inflicted crises that the Prime Minister and his ministers have inflicted upon themselves and the rest of us, (the latest one being scrapping Public Health England ***in the middle of a pandemic*** (an action that doesn’t resolve the issues that the Health Secretary thinks it does) to the big hole that the Education Secretary dropped universities in with his screw-up over A-levels leaving some institutions over-subscribed and others under-subscribed through no fault of their own).

Above – a reminder of the calibre of Cabinet ministers we’re dealing with. Jenni Russell, now of the New York Times has been burning up Johnson’s reputation over there.

In the meantime, where is the Prime Minister?

Coz I’ve not seen him. Which reminds me of this number by Captain Ska from just before the general election. It’s NSFW (Not Safe For Work).


And for the first time in what feels like over a decade, the Conservative PM is running behind in the polls vs the Labour leader.

And he still has Brexit and the Climate Emergency to deal with.




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