As I prepared to attend my first gig since the Covid pandemic shut the world, there was an additional item to be packed – a mask. (I always carried hand sanitiser anyway, so it was already snuggled into its pocket)
In the pre-Covid world I never thought twice about packing my gig bag before leaving to catch the train or to drive to the venue. It’s a fairly standard list of essentials – ticket, camera, phone, hand sanitiser, purse and rock n roll polo mints. (Ok these turned out to be well out of date! Thanks to Mr A for supplying me with a new packet)
However, last Friday night, I found myself more than a little anxious about going out to my first post-pandemic show. Is this one of the many legacies of Covid?
I was heading to Glasgow’s Barrowlands Ballroom with Mr A to see Black Stone Cherry – familiar location, familiar journey, familiar company and familiar band of choice (I’ve seen these boys from Kentucky at least ten times now)- so there was no natural reason to feel anxious… or is there nowadays?
Heading out to a show now takes a little more preparation than just packing your handbag. Preparations start 48-24 hours in advance. The venue recommendation and, in some instances the band’s request, is that you do a Covid lateral flow test before attending. That was it – I lost my lateral flow virginity to see these boys from Kentucky! Having successfully reported a negative test and received my email and text confirmation of this, I spent the rest of Thursday morning twitching my nose like Samantha from Bewitched! A minor inconvenience to get some safety reassurance about being in a crowd, don’t you think?
Another new skill had to be swiftly mastered upon arrival at Barrowlands – juggling! As the doors opened there was a whole new routine required – mask on, track and trace done via the QR code on the walls and the green tick confirmation kept visible on your phone (contingency bit of paper with contact details was in my jeans pocket just in case of QR code issues), ticket in hand plus bag open for the obligatory bag check. You need about three pairs of hands (and your reading glasses if you’re anything like me as I squinted trying to register the track and trace info LOL) to get in the door! I smiled as I realised it was the audience who were being scanned rather than the tickets – temperature check!
Masks need to be worn indoors at events in Scotland by law in certain situations, so the mask had to remain in place as we climbed the stairs and headed to the merch stall. Cue another first world post-pandemic issue – making yourself heard and understood by the merch guy behind the counter while wearing said mask. Mission accomplished though – two t-shirts and a BSC deck of cards duly purchased and stowed away inside Cherry.
The came the big dilemma for me for the evening – mask on or off while the band is on stage? Law says you don’t need to wear it while dancing in a nightclub or venue but does standing watching and intermittently dancing and headbanging count? Decisions …decisions…
As I stood in the audience waiting for the support band to come onstage, I glanced round the growing crowd. It was probably 50/50 for masks being on before the Kris Barras band took to the stage. By three songs in, with the heat rising, I was struggling to breathe. Mask was duly removed for the remainder of the evening. I tried…
Several hours later, as the houselights came up, it was probably 90/10 for no masks. Trying to keep a mask on at a gig was a feat too far for me, I’m afraid.
There’s also a new post-gig routine to be learned. Happy to report the post-gig Covid lateral flow test was also negative.
If stuffing a cotton bud up your nose and swirling it round in a plastic test tube before dropping X drops of the snottery liquid onto the test sample slide is all that’s needed to ensure gigs are a thing again then I’m all for it.
Jake watched her from the distant vantage point of the boardwalk. He had headed for the beach after the end of his shift at the pizza parlour. It had been a rough day and he had decided to walk off his black mood before heading to meet the guys. The last thing they needed was him turning up in a foul mood, stinking of tomato sauce and cheese. He had walked to the south end of the promenade and had just turned back when he saw the girl walking down on the sand. It was the sun catching the golden highlights in her hair that had attracted his attention. He never noticed her crutches at first. Watching from a distance, he had kept pace with her, then stopped to watch as she turned towards the boardwalk. When he saw her stumble, he regretted not following his instincts and going down to walk on the sand with her.
“Shit,” he muttered. “Shit.”
There were no breaks in the fence nearby, so he jumped over the wooden palings into the dune grass and ran towards her, sand immediately filling his shoes. By the time he was close enough to call out to her, she was sitting up and looked to be unhurt. He almost turned away but decided against it and continued to walk down the beach.
“Hi,” he called out. “Are you ok?”
If you want to read more then check out the Silver Lake series today
With the sun beating down on her, she knew in her heart that she had made the right decision to come to the beach. Thoughts of walking along the sand, of playing in the waves, of watching the seabirds dance in the shallows and the sights and sounds and aromas of the boardwalk had been beacons of hope during her darkest of days.
Now, as the sun rose on a beautifully clear June morning, the boardwalk ran behind her, the ocean sparkled and shimmered before her, and miles and miles of soft sand stretched into the distance on either side of her. It was still early, barely breakfast time, but around her the world was slowly coming to life. There were a few fishermen scattered along the shoreline, their rods dug deep into the sand. A few photographers were at work, capturing the beauty of the new day to share on social media. Those sunrise livestreams had brightened many a dark day.
Everything around her was just as she had hoped it would be and more.
As she gazed down the beach, she watched an early morning fitness junkie approach, pounding out the miles on the hard packed sand.
She felt as though she had stepped into the pages of one of her own novels; she felt as though she’d come home.
A relaxed smile playing on her lips, she began to meander down the beach, allowing her daydreams to play out as reality around her. Dreams do come true……
credits to the owner of the sunrise photo – Kevin Lynam Photography (photo is tagged)
Want to spend Labor Day at a Silver Lake BBQ for free…
Less than an hour later, the burgers were sizzling on the grill, Maddy and Lori were bringing salads and relishes out from the kitchen, Becky was contentedly watching TV and the four band members were all catching up with each other, as they sprawled across the sun deck. Rich had taken charge of the BBQ, ordering Jake to stay clear of the smoke. Happy to relinquish the cooking duties, Jake had gone back to the sun lounger without a word of complaint. Once all the food was out, Lori came and sat beside him. He draped a protective arm around her shoulders, kissed the top of her head and whispered, “Love you, li’l lady.”
“Love you too, rock star,” she purred, resting her head against his bare chest.
Within a few minutes, Rich was dishing up burgers and they were all scrabbling round the table for rolls, salad and relish. No one was standing on ceremony and the relaxed atmosphere gave it the feel of a family meal.
Stronger Within, book one in the Silver Lake series is free to download today. Check it out using the links below: