Tuesday, December 29, 2020

That Was The Year That Wasn't

What follows was written quickly. Rather like this year it's a bit disjointed but, rather like this year, it is what it is.


‘For a minute there, I lost myself...’

Well. You know that things are getting weird when you find yourself quoting a line from a Radiohead song.

We're in the middle of the Christmas holiday, nearing the end of the strangest of years. Pretty much everyone I've talked to on the phone in the last few days is bored. Lost. Desperate.

When will this all end? Indeed, where will this all end? I've been asking myself that a fair bit lately. Maybe you have too? 

I miss people. I never really thought that I would, but I do. At least I think that I do. I've always spent a lot of time on own - not particularly through choice, it's just how things have worked out. I've never had lots of friends, I've not got much to say for myself, women get bored with me - often when they discover that I don't think about very much other than guitars - and I often find social situations with lots of people difficult to cope with.

Ah - but hang on a minute? I've got friends. I talk to people when I'm out and about, occasionally about things other than guitars. Every once in a while some of them are women. And aren't gigs 'social situations with lots of people'?
Gigs. I remember them. Maybe you do too? They were great weren't they? Well, I thought that they were. I wonder if they will ever happen like we used to know them again. 

Sometimes in the last few months I've wondered if I would ever play another gig. That's not a good thing to find yourself thinking. Having said that The Slogans have managed to play three shows since we last spoke - a Sunday afternoon 'sit-down-three-piece-without-the drums' show in The Dolphin in Uxbridge way back in August (I really must update this blog more often mustn't I? More about that in a minute...) and then a whopping two gigs in October, and on successive Fridays at that. We played another sit down show at The Horns in Watford on the 16th, then Dylan made a triumphant return behind the kit the 23rd at The Cavern in Raynes Park. All were highly enjoyable, although I'd be lying if I didn't say that the third show beat the the other two in the fun stakes. Mind you I realised that I wasn't anywhere near match fit at the Cavern show as I was sweating by the second song and not playing particularly well. I got going in the end (I wouldn't have mentioned it here if I hadn't!) and we were due to make a return visit to the venue in December - but, of course, we didn’t. 

It now feels as though Ruts D.C. have postponed more gigs than we've ever played - we haven't of course, but that’s what it feels like. Incredibly we’ve released two - count ‘em, two! - albums this year (since you were wondering- the live ‘40 Years Of The Crack’ recorded on our 2019 UK tour, and ‘ElectrAcoustiC’ which features reworked old songs; both are available on our website) and have somehow played two - count ‘em, two! - gigs. Both of these were sit down shows at The New Cross Inn earlier this month (the 14th and 15th December) and while both were ostensibly acoustic I used an electric guitar for a fair bit of the evening. We were supposed to play three shows, but as we were getting our gear together for the first gig we heard that London was going into Tier 3 of Coronavirus restrictions on the morning of our third show. Much incredulity followed, followed by much swearing... the shows went well, and then we all went home. That was that for this year.

And I even went to some - well, three - gigs. I saw Steve Simpson with his new band The Waders a couple of times at The Cavern (both shows were excellent) and witnessed the mighty Menace at The Holroyd Arms in Guildford. The bands were standing, the audience were seated and I don't mind admitting that I was almost euphoric at times. I really like music. That hasn't changed.

But at least I managed to play some shows. There are many increasingly despondent musicians that haven't played at all this year. Do you remember that ridiculously offensive 'Fatima' advert? Vile wasn't it? Leaving aside the fact that there were some excellent parodies out in no time at all it seemed to me that it was yet another example of how this increasingly appalling government have absolutely no idea whatsoever how to handle the situation. I for one have long been fed up with ghastly toffs telling us what we should think and do - now an endless procession of faceless ministers appear on television instead, none of whom take any responsibility for the current chaos. Tens of thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs, physical and mental health problems are increasing at a frightening rate and this gang of goons will all get peerages and houses big enough to be seen from outer space. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. The tiers of a clown indeed.

In an attempt to make some sort of sense of things and indeed to put my time to good use I decided to try to learn a few things on the computer. Among other things I've had a go at making DVDs (you want a gig bootlegging from YouTube? I'm your man!) and perhaps more constructively I've been finding my way around Garageband. This as you may know is a recording app, and after much brow-furrowing I used it to contribute guitars to 'World Of Sunlight' by Pete 'Joyless' Jones back in the summer - since then I've recorded my parts for a new Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants single (our 'History' EP was also released back in June - under normal circumstances this would have been a really good year for me in terms of record releases!) and quite a few new song ideas. I still get a bit stuck here and there, but I'm quite pleased with progress so far. Lots of people are recording at home these days - so does this mean the end of recording studios? Will they be yet another casualty of 2020? Let's hope not - the three days Ruts D.C. spent at Perry Vale Studios with Pat Collier recording 'ElectrAcoustiC' were highlights of my year. Admittedly highlights have been few and far between this year, but you know what I mean I think. And surely I could have written more blog posts? Well I could - if there was anything to write about. You'd soon get tired of me ranting on and on about how evil The Tories are over and over again - I'm certainly getting fed up with thinking about it.

So - what now? There's a vaccine or two around, and talk of 'getting back to normal' sometime soon - but will we? Will the world we knew ever return? It's quite a thought isn't it? I'm optimistic that it will - most of the time. Pubs are closing at a depressing rate, often as a result of governmental incompetence which has resulted in the rules changing so often, and I fear that many venues will go the same way. I wonder if people are losing the habit of going out - then again a lot of folk sound as though they would go to the opening of an envelope if it got them out of the house. 

Well - that was 2020. Let's see what 2021 has to offer. It will be better.

It will be better - won't it?

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