After 572 days, “Cherry” is free again!

It’s been a long while since I took “Cherry” out of the wardrobe… 572 days to be precise.

I’ve written about “Cherry” before back in 2016 (  My Secret Chaperone….meet Cherry | Coral McCallum ( ) This bag and Cherry monkey still comes to every gig with me but, thanks to Covid, she’s been in enforced hibernation since 23 February 2020.

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 (Ok these turned out to be well out of date!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.

The show itself was awesome. You can read my review of it on my sister blog- Black Stone Cherry at Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow 17 September 2021 | the525toglasgow (

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.

Cherry is delighted to be free once more too!


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