Midlife Crisis. Co-captains log. 2020 Overview.
Well where do I start?! We had spent weeks, sanding, painting, hot gluing and upcycling everything we could lay our hands on. It was all leading up to an epic, momentous event...
The 17th January...
Opening night!!! With a brilliant, sold out gig to kick us off, we were ready to launch The Crooked Crow Bar (albeit bum-squeakingly by the skin of our teeth)!
That fantastic night set in motion an absolute avalanche of bands, beers and plans! Although just a few weeks before, the bar had been an empty unit, it felt as if the Crow had always been there, like we had unearthed it rather than created it... as if it already had its own identity and we were simply getting to know who it was, whilst we navigated the late nights, chaos and excitement running an events bar had brought. By the end of January, the national press took a rest from Corbyn bashing and Brexit and began scaremongering about a new superbug from China! Hah! We had survived swine flu, bird flu, Ebola, Edwina Curries eggs, blue smarties, Jedward...!
So China flu was hardly a biggie.
By the end of February the virus had spread to Europe... Countries were locking down... Hospitals were overwhelmed... People were dying. Then before anyone could say "Put down the fork and step away from the bat", we were in the midst of a global pandemic. On the 19th march, we closed the bar. A week later, the whole country shut down.
Non essential workers donned their pyjamas, installed Zoom and quickly figured out that although banana bread is easy to bake, it tastes like arse... (even if it was now acceptable to wash it down with half a pint of neat rum, followed by 4 gins and a bottle of rosé). The claws of the nation's dogs were more polished than a 70s disco ball, as walking became the only excuse to get out the house... (Well, the only excuse that didn't involve queuing for 40 minutes outside a flour-less supermarket, before following the arrows in a joyless, 2 meter conga, feeling the burning judgement as you grabbed a packet of toilet rolls, or tried to read the ingredients on a jar of curry sauce). On telly, our bumbling leader would clamber out the fridge and spaff his daily riddles: "Stay alert, things are good but bad, control the virus" and then a couple of scientists would point at a graph... And once a week we'd clap on our doorsteps to thank our frontline workers for being such good sports about the shit wages and lack of PPE.
Our whole predicament was completely, unbelievably, insane. But, despite it all, we had hope. We were united in this shittest of shit times and things were going to get better.
We formed community groups and support groups on social media. We took to the internet, socialised, played quizzes and watched gigs broadcast from peoples front rooms or garden sheds.
But soon, having binge watched every available boxset, drunk every conceivable cocktail, crocheted the equivalent of a flock of sodding sheep and realised that teachers deserve the Victoria Cross, Britain was bored shitless. Finally, in the Summer, they let us out for good behaviour. There were no more daily briefings but clear, solid government guidance: You should only to drive to scenic spots for an eye test, childcare should not involve hugging, attendance at weddings & funerals was limited unless you shoot a grouse, masks are bad unless you catch a bus, beer is fine if you sit down, live music is fine if it's outside and nobody plays a saxophone. So, as we all knew what we were doing, we nervously ventured outside and things seemed a little bit better.
By the 9th July, our bar could reopen, complete with an obese risk assessment and ever changing regulations that would baffle the most astute business brains (let alone 3 pissheads who had somehow managed to turn an old Blockbuster video shop into an events bar). Whilst things were still a million miles away from normal life, we soon got into the swing of it: fashioning extra tables from cable drums and barrels and installing drinks ordering apps. Having seemingly confused the virus for a cinderella-esque zombie apocalypse, it became mandatory to close the bar early each night to get everybody home before midnight... and masks were now essential, well, unless you had a sick note, or sat down. People could get tested for covid in IKEA car parks and having invested billions into the Track & Trace Excel spreadsheet, it looked like we could slowly return to a new kind of normal.
By mid August they allowed live performances indoors again and we saw 1st hand how powerful it was to give people a night out / a shared experience / escapism. By now we had jumped through so many hoops we were just a few ribbon twizzles away from an Olympic medal! We had a purpose... We could do this. Things were looking up... They had found a vaccine and we had nearly made it through this utter dog turd of a year!
As live music was more dangerous than schools or shops, (albeit not statistically), they shut us down in November, but we were allowed to reopen in December once they discovered the healing powers of the scotch egg.
On the 18th December, with just 2 days notice, we had moved to Tier 3, which meant we had to close. The Crooked Crow Bar was flying for 3 months, closed for 4, open (at 35% capacity) for 3 months, closed for a month, open for a couple of weeks, then closed again!!! 2020 was over. Almost 100,000 people had died in the UK. There seemed little to celebrate. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2021: With the whole of the UK back in lockdown and a new strain of the virus ripping through the country, our fearless leaders, with their ever swift handling of this crisis, considered closing the borders... They had started rolling out the vaccine which should have sparked hope that this will soon be over, but hope was dangerous... I had given all my hope to 2020, yet here we were in 2021, still stuck in this endless, shitty episode of Black Mirror.
I had shut down... Not just the bar... Not just staying home...
I had embraced my grizzly, unshaven, porkiness and had entered into full hibernation mode.
Conversations became difficult and unwanted, due to a combination of growing social awkwardness and having bugger all to talk about.
Clothing was for warmth and comfort (and to stop my postman and fellow house dwellers from wanting to poke kebab sticks in their eyes).
Cleanliness was a problem for the non-hibernating... I was happy (or at least I might have been if I had still been able to process emotions) wallowing in my own filth.
My hair looked like I superglued my scalp before lying down in a field of angora rabbits with a daffodil between my teeth and my arse was just a cupcake away from being listed as a roundabout on Google Maps.
The outside was bad... cold... full of wankers. There's a slight possibility that the 2 teenagers locked in the house with me died weeks ago, and whilst the smell emanating from the upstairs of the house could be their decomposing corpses, the daily disappearing food, cups and glasses, leads me to believe they have survived...
Fair play. Of course I know that this utter hairy bum-crack of a situation would be eminently improved if I just allowed myself to hope again... allowed myself to believe that this is just the last leg of an epic journey... the last mile of the marathon and therefore bound to be the toughest.... So maybe that's it... Maybe I just need to cheer up... You know, tell myself the very thing you are not supposed to tell people who are mentally fragile... JUST SODDING SNAP OUT OF IT!!!
My dysfunctional brain had been tricking me for long enough into believing my living like the cast of the Young Ones was somehow a treat (Just go back to bed... treat yourself! You don't have to have a shower... treat yourself! You don't need to leave the house... treat yourself!!! And before I knew it I had treated myself to all the symptoms of a nervous breakdown)!!!
But without in anyway belittling people battling genuine mental health issues, I wasn't... My current state of mind was entirely due to my lack of fight against this complete sweaty scrotum of a situation that was impacting EVERYBODY!
I am not alone!
Things will get better... And believe me, when that Golden Age arrives (and it will) I will be ready for it!!!
I need to shower, wash my clothes, go to bed before 4am...
Speak to some friends, write a quiz or bake a cake, do some exercise, get some vitamin D...
Book some bands, remember that most people aren't actually wankers - some of them are pretty lovely and shift my attention back to our bloody awesome bar???!
Hmmm! Maybe one step at a time... Today I think I will tackle having a shower, before my family get wise to the fact the pungent odour isn't just wet-dog. I might also have some gin.
Tomorrow... Well tomorrow is another day.