When I was a teenager, people would talk about the 'roaring twenties'. The post WW1 era of Jazz, prohibition and decadance. I imagined the women were glamourous, seductive and chain smoking. The music was up tempo sleazy Jazz. The age of talking films and Hollywood was dawning, the likes of Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin were comedy superstars. People had come through the first world war and wanted to enjoy themselves. FOr most of us in the UK, we went to the pictures for the big night out when we got paid. Of course, for most of the planet, it was nothing like that, but the tale that the TV told me as a youngster was of a golden era, before cynicism took hold.
Fast forward 100 years. It's 2023. We have recently lived through 'the pandemic'. It is perhaps the strangest period of any in the history of the planet. Unlike the two great wars of the 20th century, the world really was not that different when it emerged. There were no new countries, the political consensus was more or less the same as at the start of the pandemic. It was just as if someone pressed the pause button on our lives. Of course, many of us lost cherished loved ones, I certainly did, as any regular reader will know. But the more I think about it, the more I find it hard to believe the whole thing actually happened. From March to June, all I really did was lie in the garden, sunbathe, eat and drink beer. I tried not to think about anything. When I started to plan this blog, I thought I'd have a trawl the through the blogs I'd written during the lockdown period, come up with some pithy quotes and demonstrate that it was a very odd period. One that stuck out was this. I wrote it on the 1st April 2020, right in the middle of lockdown.
I love London, my London. My London is different to my mothers. I wish I'd asked her the bars, clubs, pubs that she loved, but I didn't. My London is different. My London is The Roundhouse, Bar Italia, Ronnie Scotts, The 100 Club, The Jazz Cafe, The Great Nepalese restaurant, The Globe pub in Borough Market, The Rake (around the corner from there), The Artillery Arms near Royal Artillery Court, Whitecross Street and Borough food markets, The pubs and Indian restaurants around Euston and Victoria. Perhaps my favourite areas are Fitzrovia (I worked around there for a couple of years) and Soho. I love Won Keys, The Coach and Horses, Gerard Street, but it is ever changing.
I've been to all of those, apart from Won Key's, clearly something I need to put right ASAP. I realised that I was missing London desperately. Another hint was this, from a blog entitled "What you most want to hear during lockdown"
When I started to write this blog, it was entitled "Why I hate Zoom". Then I realise that I don't hate Zoom, I just hate the circumstances that have caused me to use it. If my kids were living in the USA and Australia and we were all having the time of our lives, I'd probably love it. As it is, when I use it, I just realise that it is a symbol of what we can't do, that we really enjoy. Life is a bit strange, it is like we are living Groundhog day. Every day, we do the same things in a slightly different order. The highlight is the daily press conference from number 10, when the latest hapless minister shares the death toll, tells us how many people got the bus yesterday and gives us some good news to soften the blow, such as that shoplifting is down or that the A43 roadworks have been completed.
I'd sort of forgotten about all that. Had you? Listening to the news about the Covid enquiry, I realise that my concerns were very different to those of the government. In fact, the more I learn about their behaviour, the more I wonder if it was all a collective neurosis and we all imagined the whole thing.
As the full lockdown ended in Mid June, I was back in the studio almost immediately, with Charles Honderick providing some cracking vocals on what was the only track I wrote during the lockdown period. It is easy to forget that the whole "Black Lives matter" thing happened when the country was locked down. At the time the pictures of crowds pulling down statues was quite something. We'd not seen crowds at all.
Copyright The False Dots 2020
The track was a real oddity in The False Dots history. A very different sort track to what we were doing at the time or since. It was a bit of an explosion of creativity following a hibernation. What is funny is that we wrote the song in the studio. We could never get it to sound good live. Very much a moment in time. Immediately after that we decided to write far softer and more upbeat songs with a Ska feel, it was almost like the closing of the chapter for me.
The world has really taken a bad turn since the lifting of lockdown. Whereas lockdown was scary and touched all of us, the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza/Israel have the potential to escalate into something devastating for the whole planet. In hindsight lockdown was peaceful for many. My hope had been that it would be a period of reflection, where humanity, having stepped off the hamster wheel of the rat race, might actually decide to sort some of the long standing issues, such as poverty and inequality out. What we've got is actually far more horrible than I could imagine. We had time to reflect, but we didn't. We simply recharged the batteries of ignorance, bitterness, prejudice and hatred. Lockdown feels like a dream now. We've woken from our slumbers and found that the wolf is not at the door, he's chasing us back up the stairs and if we don't make it up in time and lock the door, he may well eat us alive.