Dear all artists and performers

Sunday 24 October, 2021

At the start of this pandemic, at the height, everyone had the opportunity, including you, to understand what disabled and chronically ill people live with every day. Stuck indoors, not enough money, no social contact, worried about bills, and worried about your mind going to pieces because routines can become relentless and boredom can be soul destroying.

You knew what it was like to be isolated.

And that was the reality for many of us already.

You suddenly understood what it was like not to be able to perform, maybe to even access a recording studio. There’s plenty of disabled talent out there that are literally only blocked because of physical access. You understood what it felt like only hearing people on the phone. You experienced not seeing anyone in person for days, weeks and months on end. You were suddenly experiencing being stuck, in one place, within the same four walls, for weeks on end, just like we dsabled people have for years.

You wanted audiences, you wanted to share your talent with everyone stuck at home. You wanted a sense of community and you wanted solidarity, and you wanted someone to say “We hear you, please keep going” and, also, you needed a way to make money.

And some of you figured out how to do streams and did free performances, some of you did ticketed events from your own home, living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens or basements, or even sheds.

But now the world has opened back up again, and you’re going back to venues. Venues which aren’t wheelchair accessible, venues which are in tick box excercises alone, and it’s like everything you learnt, everything that you had compassion and passion for during lockdown, during the height of the pandemic has vanished.

You can now perform on stage.

There’s still plenty of us who are sheilding because there’s still a pandemic out there than could kill us.

There’s still plenty of us who can’t go to in person gigs just because we’re bored at home. We can’t afford to, we don’t have the care hours, we don’t have the health.

And you have just shrugged your shoulders and gone on with your gigs.

We had universal access last year that everyone could use and appreciate, and now it’s gone. You have the power to keep that access in place.

We have people on the moon, we have watched rocket launches from our living rooms even; It can not be harder than rocket science to stream a concert online for those of us still stuck at home, for whatever reason, to watch.

In the last month alone, I have missed 3 concerts I’d have loved to have gone to, but couldn’t. Because now it’s just the likes of me stuck at home, we don’t matter.

And that actually hurts. It’s unfair, legally and morally, but also it just plain old hurts.

Do better.

AFJ


Going on with you gone still upsets me

Saturday 16 October, 2021

You get older… And your friend doesn’t

You change… And your friend doesn’t

The world changes and you don’t have your friend with you to get through it with you.

And as you change and the world changes around you, you think would you even be friends today? Would they like who you’ve become? Would you like them? How would them still being here influence you and how you are as a person?

Would they be married by now? Would their relationship, their work, their whatever obligation have made you drift apart?

What would they say to your failed degree and restart and deferrals and health?

And then you think…. If they didn’t die when they did, would something else have got them far too soon anyway? Would there have been an accident? Some other sickness? We’re all told we could be hit by a bus tomorrow, maybe they would have been.

You struggle to remember the layouts of their room. What did they have on that second shelf underneath the TV? Was it three steps before the bird cage or four? Did she put up the white poster first and then the black over it or was it the other way around?

Was it the peppermint she preferred or the spearmint?

Her voice has long gone from your memory bank but you would give anything to hear it again. Just a hello, or an admonishmemt… Because you bought the wrong mints again.

You’ve run out of the patience to think through the same old fond memories, and you can’t face the sad ones. The wasted time ones. The arguments and the bad days. The last days ones.

But there’s no other kind, because you kept living and your friend didn’t.

She should have had her whole life ahead of her and I do, and quite often I don’t want it.


Is silence really golden?

Monday 4 October, 2021

It happened again the other week. “It” being that I was listening to one Absolute station and a song that makes me ugly cry and have an existential crisis came on, so I turned over to the other Absolute radio station I listen to, got back in to bed, pulled the duvet up and lied down, only for another song that makes me ugly cry and have an existential crisis to come on just seconds after the duvet was up to my neck.

It might have been The Living Years on Absolute 80s, then Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt, or the other way around. It’s usually them by themselves that prompt one switch over. Sometimes it’s Queen The Show Must Go On, or Queen’s Who Wants To Live Forever, but this was the second time it happened with two of them on within minutes of each other on their respective stations, and last time I turned to Radio City, which was a risk too because the first time I turned to Radio City after The Living Years came on Absolute 80s, Heroes by Alesso came on within minutes of tuning in. That was played at my friend’s funeral, it too makes me ugly cry and have an existential crisis…

And last time I listened to Radio City as my third option, I spent about half an hour listening to the songs that were big when I was in my teenage years, in a time slot being called “retro hour”.

I didn’t want to repeat either of those things, so I turned my radio off completely.

I hardly ever turn my radio off completely. It is a real physical faff to turn my radio off completely so even if I’m in bed watching trash television (Kitchen Nightmares), the radio will be on and I’ll block it out with Gordon Ramsay’s swearing. I’ve almost always had radio, or music, on in the background. I usually struggle without it. I’ve done coursework with songs on repeat, been seriously ill with radio 4 helping me cling on as the hours pass by. I even heard an interview with Ceelo Green through the hospital’s bedside radio whilst I had an unpleasant procedure done because silence would have been worse. I haven’t slept without music/radio unless I have absolutely had no choice to, since I was 8, when I was given a digital radio alarm.

The only non unavoidable time I’ve chosen to turn my radio off is when I’ve listened to an audiobook.

I even went the entire time I was at uni the first time, without live television, and was just happy with the radio. People really think (or at least used to, I don’t know anymore, nobody shares their opinions with me…) I would struggle without a television, but as long as I had a radio, I would be fine. I was fine!

It took me ten days this time to put it back on. It’s been almost silent in my room for all this time, and I haven’t cared. No news, no hourly update helping me keep track of the time, no Bush and Richie to distract me from whatever I’m doing. Nothing.

I’m lying here again, right now, in almost silence, and I’m just not bothered.

I’m not sure what this means. It doesn’t feel good?