A year ago, when lockdown happened and all my work was cancelled, I spent a lot of time walking around the streets of my neighbourhood – partly for exercise, partly to pass the time, and partly because we were not supposed to be taking the bus so there was no other way to get to the few shops that were open.
A year later, I was invited to do a streamed concert, to be rehearsed in a venue not far from where I live. What a treat! I prepared on my own for the rehearsals, and on the appointed day I walked to the hall.
I had been walking up the road almost daily for the whole of the past year, but suddenly it felt different. My perception of the scene and my place in it had subtly altered. Now I was going somewhere because I had been summoned to do something I loved, something I was good at. People were waiting for me, specifically me. I would be amongst kindred spirits. We were going to try to create something beautiful. I had a purpose beyond going for groceries!
Somehow this sense of purpose altered my perception. It’s hard to put into words, but it was something to do with the balance of elements in the scene. During lockdown, the empty street was the major player in the drama. Its emptiness and quietness were powerful. I was just a beetle moving along the street. On the day I went out cheerfully to rehearse, I was a major player in the scene (or so it felt to me). The street looked down on me indulgently as I passed.
This is the kind of thing which can quickly become pretentious, so I’ll stop there. But I did reflect on it afterwards. The change I felt was no doubt the effect of adrenaline – a regular part of my professional life before the pandemic.
And indeed, when those few days of music-making were over, the adrenaline disappeared. The street was once more in the foreground.
‘You must remember this/ A kiss is just a kiss/ A sigh is just a sigh/ The fundamental things apply/ As time goes by.’