Joe Strummer’s famous quotation, ‘The future is unwritten’, could now be followed by the clarification ‘and, during a pandemic, frequently postponed’. Last week, two musical things happened, which triggered this thought.
When I say ‘happened’ I mean, of course, the opposite: two things were announced to be ‘not happening’, but these retractions are the closest thing to gig news I’ve had all year.
Firstly, Glastonbury, the UK’s largest music and performing arts festival for the last 50 years, has been cancelled. I didn’t have a ticket but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about thousands of people not being able to have fun on the last weekend of June along a mystical ley line. Moreover, (and perhaps more pertinently for those of us not planning to go) it undermines any generally held hope, however tentative, that this summer would see a substantial return to live music. If the Eavis’s can’t do it, can anyone? Is that last orders at the global summer festival bar?
Secondly, and more personally, I had a January 2021 gig officially postponed to (drumroll) 2022. I don’t know whether to feel disappointment with the one year and six days postponement (yes, I am counting) of Michael Franti in Amsterdam or to feel joy that this is, very likely, a gig that might actually happen! As it’s that far away.
My 2021 diary, which I promised would not meet the same abandoned fate as my 2020 model, (which is now being used, rather dishonourably, as a scrapbook – I didn’t want to waste the great cover design), looks back at me from my desk with indignation and rejected despair.
‘Remember those heady days of double-booking yourself?’ it seems to taunt. I nod, and counter with ‘Once, I even triple-booked myself’. I can barely imagine my life being that rich with opportunities now. So many things to do, so many places to go, so many people to stand less than 1.5 metres away from.
We may wish to rethink the need for Time Management skills and introduce training for Very Long-Term Planning. I’ve already started flexing my forward-thinking muscles and pondering how far ahead I could book gigs in this new virus-ridden reality. It brings to mind those stories of people who want to pre-book holiday flights to the moon, for when it becomes a feasible ‘in’ destination. I’m starting to think they were a bit short- termist.
Many people cite the old saying ‘God laughs at people who make plans’. Deities everywhere might be in for an extended belly laugh, as we strive to deal with our desperation for something exciting and social and loud to look forward. So, plan away my friends! Imagine a new and exciting life of socialising, live music and frantically texting someone because you got the dates mixed up and are already engaged.
Our ticket to ride may be postponed, but there will be journeys ahead…
Photo: Michael Franti performing at Heaven in London, in 2016. Such crowded, joyful, live music experiences indeed seem heavenly memories whilst we wait for gigs to return. © Imelda Michalczyk