It is really heartening to know that yet another choir rehearsal will have to be online today because of the guidelines/regulations/whatever that state that amateur choirs may only sing together inside in groups of no more than six and outside in groups of no more than thirty when the news has been full of footage of hundreds, possibly thousands, of sports fans crammed into small spaces and unmasked while singing at full pelt whatever chant or bantz happen to take their fancy at the time. As ever, I suspect that the economy of scale comes into this, that even singers cannot quite put away as much lager as dedicated devotees of the offside rule, but, essentially, it really comes down to bread and circuses, that sport is more important to those who are in charge than the arts, and keeps the populus distracted.
Such is the knowledge and engagement with choral singing by those who administer the rules that it can be hard to know whether the Westminster approach (ignore them) or the Welsh approach (put together guidelines based on a joke on Twitter) is better. In short, do incompetents cause more damage by doing nothing or something?
Thankfully, the arts seem to be quite important to those brave souls who insist on booking them, the fossilised relics of those noble patrons of yore who realised that art enhanced their status, and that gentle trickle of optimistic bookings for later in the year has kept the diary ticking over through the weekend. I was also delighted to hear that last week’s concerts have raised a healthy sum for musicians who have found themselves severely on the back foot through all of this. To paraphrase the late and very great Murray Walker, I imagine that the losses incurred by the arts have been unimaginable, and those losses keep mounting with cancelled bookings, shifted concerts and the like as we push on into July, so every little helps.
It is all utterly depressing, and I had a long chat about this with one of my band mates at rehearsal a week ago during which we both agreed that art and artists are typically viewed with distrust by those who do not understand them, and why not? After all, we tend to ask uncomfortable questions, express the awkward and be general pains in the backside, so why should those who would prefer us to shut up not prefer us to shut up? If you can do it by “persuading” us to move into cyber or, in my case, boxing, then so much the better.
Like many, there have been many times over the past year and a bit when I have wondered what it has all been for, and whether music, theatre and the other creative fields were about to be silenced for many years to come, but now I think that we at the stage (pardon the pun) of reculer pour mieux sauter. So, online rehearsal it will be again tonight before I inevitably stumble across footage of yet more footy fans shouting away while linked at the shoulder, and I cannot help but wonder whether this is the beginning of the end of this whole affair or whether those sports-mad aerosols are merely heralding yet another beginning, not drowning but Delta waving.