It can be difficult at the moment to tell the difference between pessimism and realism. I feel that for all the cautiously chipper noises that filter down to those of us locked in our houses from people who would like us to think that they know what they are doing the reality is far worse than has been communicated to us. We are already at the stage in the ukcomposer household of planning not to be back to any kind of normal at all until at least September.

While previously that might have seemed like a worst case scenario, now it appears to be the height of prudence, meaning that, to all intents and purposes, were it not for online rehearsals with Parly Choir and a series of toe-in-the-water online lectures, I am into a second sabbatical. Or is it merely an extension of the first? Or is it early retirement? Who knows?

What I do know is that I have been right on the money and slightly ahead of the game for every tightening of restrictions that has come our way, being able to achieve that seemingly complicated task of putting hellish figures into a logic machine and coming out with the necessary steps to stop them spiralling out of control. Of course, it is not quite as simple as that, but still… I went into voluntary lockdown after Christmas a couple of days before the official one was announced, and stepped back from all my permitted out-of-the-house work in the middle of last week, which ended up being erased from the diary anyway on Saturday evening until, well, who can tell?

Combined with the news swirling around at the weekend about musicians and visas and work in the EU it has all meant a rather pressing reassessment of priorities and aims, but at least the combination of all this and the new year has felt like something of a fresh start. I have been back writing and listening and creating and reading intensively for the first time in a while, probably since the fug of the pandemic first descended.

I have always taken the view that a crisis is really an opportunity in disguise, and while I would not go quite so far as to claim to be in crisis mode given that there are millions of people in much more desperate situations than mine and acting much more bravely, it seems wise to be keeping going and keeping getting things done, planning for the worst and hoping for the best. Today – lecture in the morning, Parly Choir rehearsal in the evening, writing in between – will be the closest thing to a full work day for a while, and even though I am trying hard to ignore the fact that it is all taking place over cyber, at least it provides a glimpse of normal through all the magnificent desolation of the coming months.