So a happy 2021 to you all. In terms of value for money in achieving our aims this year will surely massively outperform the last, and at least the arbitrary ticking over of one set of twelve months into the next gives a little cause for optimism, and a fresh start.

That optimism might well be short-lived, however, for not only am I ever more convinced that we are heading for yet another lockdown in the very near future, but the new strain of the virus genuinely does seem to be spreading with alarming speed. Over the weekend I learned that a colleague’s mother had fallen ill on Christmas Day and died on New Year’s Day, while his father now also has Covid. For many people, including some depressingly not too far away from me, this whole thing is still the proverbial another country, and it is hard to drive home just how serious the situation is.

I have done a little playing over the holiday period, two short, sharp sessions of straight in and straight home work, and even if the lockdown does not come I think that I might withdraw voluntarily from my remaining engagement in London unless things get miraculously better. Thankfully I should have enough to be getting on with at home, including preparations for a set of online lecture class-type things, as well as some other small projects which should help to keep things ticking over and the cyberwolf from the door.

For the time being, then, everything looks as though it is likely to remain online until maybe April at the earliest, and if such proves to be the case then I shall just pretend that the last year never happened and celebrate my 50th birthday all over again. By the summer things may be a little back to normal, which at least will give me time to sort out which visas I might need to visit the Anghiari Festival.

Still, for all the negativity in this first entry of the year I must admit to feeling a little chipper, just as long as I keep away from the headlines and the chaos that seems to be masquerading as a defence against the virus, far too haphazard even to be called an approach. At least in good music one can find order or, if writing, impose it upon random elements, so even if all around is headless chicken land I can retreat to something like the Schumann Cello Concerto, subject of the first online session, and revel in its eloquence and beauty, a statement that, unlike those we hear daily on The Today Programme, stands the test of time.

Christmas present from Dylan…