How are you? You're fine? No you're not really, are you? I don't think any of us really are at the moment. It doesn't matter what your position on anything, however you look at everything at the moment, there has never been more uncertainty. It would be so easy to despair.
But hold on, hold on. Step back for a second. Think of where we really are in all of this. There is plenty that could be far, far better. In many ways, young people are having a worse time than any for a couple of generations. Being a teenager, going to Uni, at a time when you can't socialise with our friends, can't enjoy the social side or University, whilst racking up debts is, by any stretch of the imagination, obscene. This must be addressed and a degree of fairness in the issue applied. The generation of myself and Boris had no debt and a whale of a time (I didn't go to Uni, but that was very much down to my own decisions). We've ended up with homes worth ever more, whilst leaving ever less of the cake for the generations that follow. We need to stop and think and do the right thing. For those of you that are not of my generation reading this, it isn't all gloom and doom, even though it may seem like it. These times pass. There are lessons to be learned. The world is in many ways a kinder, more gentle and more civilised place than the one I grew up in. Things such as casual racism and homophobia have ceased to be socially acceptable. This is progress. Medical science has come on in leaps and bounds. The plague of my teens and twenties was AIDS, there is still no effective vaccine, but we have treatments and we've learned to live with it. Whilst we didn't have student loans, only around five percent of us went to University. For most of us, we expected dead end jobs and unemployment under Margaret Thatcher. But things got better. We look across the pond. For many Donald Trump is someone who is almost like an alien. Whilst the rest of the world has gone PC, he grabs pussy and praises racists. But hang on, he's the only US President since I became an adult who hasn't started a war and casually sent young men off to their death. He has put America first and to us Brits, there is a degree of concern about the US backing away from their role of global leadership. As America's staunchest ally, that leaves us in a rather difficult place. What do you do when your best friend no longer wants to play with you? As I write this, no one really knows whether Trump or Biden will be declared winner. Both will present a completely set of different problems for Boris and his merry men. Biden is not a fan of Brexit and is likely to see other European leaders as far more important to his plans than Boris. The UK, out of Europe and without a best mate over the pond may find itself in a rather difficult place. However you view it, this is not going to be an easy period for UK PLC.
When I awoke this morning, I found it hard to motivate myself to get up and get myself ready for work. We go into lockdown tomorrow. My friends and family mean the world to me and the thought of not seeing them for a month at least is horrible. The lockdown will have a catastrophic effect on my business. We are forever cutting the pie into thinner slices, when it comes to our finances. We will get through this, but it is not easy. Not at all.
After work, my head was spinning. I went and sat in Mill Hill park and watched the sun go down. I have to confess that as I sat down, my thoughts were negative and I was struggling. But you cannot help but look with awe at a beautiful sunset. We have some great green spaces in Mill Hill that have stunning westerly views. These afford us the time and space to get things in perspective. It gives us time to look at the ancient oak trees and realise that they've stood through wars, a hurricane, plagues and recessions. The sun we watch set is the same one that set on Julius Ceasar, Alfred the Great and King Tut. They would have all watched the sun set with the same sense of wonder that I felt this evening. It humbles you and makes you realise just how small we are and how transient these times are.
This got me to thinking. What really matters? What in my life is important? My wife, my children, my family, my friends. I'm lucky, I am blessed with all of these. But how often do I stop and appreciate this? How often do I count my blessings and give thanks for all the good things in life. As someone who's life has revolved around music for the last 40 years, I am blessed to live in a time when I can listen to recordings of the best musicians of the last 100 years. I've been lucky to watch amazing musicians from across the planet playing in my home town. If I'd been born 200 years before, or at any time before that, none of this would be possible. Perhaps the greatest musician in history is Mozart. He never heard a recording of his music. How priviliged am I, a very average guitarist, who can record his own music and play it to the world. Back in 2010, I composed a piece of music that 11 million people have listened to (It was used on the goal of the month show on the Manchester City FC website). It probably took 200 years before as many people had listened to a Mozart composition. We are in heady times. As for football, I've seen all of the greats play over the last 50 years. How much of an honour is that? I've not gone hungry or thirsty and when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, my expectation was that I would still be alive ten years later. How lucky is that? Whatever happened though, the world would keep turning. People will still be able to watch the sun set on Mill Hill park.
So what I am trying to say, in a rather round about way is this. With lockdown many of us will have the opportunity to take some time out. Please put it to good use. Make sure you appreciate the good things you have, because there will always be problems in the world. Don't let them overwhelm you.