I had an extra long weekend recently. It was four days of being a culture vulture. It was also four days of ever-increasing risk assessment.
It began on Thursday morning with the first Salter Cane band practice in eighteen months. That was pretty safe—three of us in a room, reminding ourselves of how the songs go. I honestly thought it could’ve been a disaster and that I wouldn’t remember anything, but thanks to a little bit of last-minute revision the evening before, it actually went really well. And boy, did it feel good to plug in and play those songs again.
Later that day, Jessica went up to London. We spent that evening in the Royal Opera House, watching a ballet, The Dante Project. We wore masks. Not everyone else did.
The next day, the indoor gatherings continued. We went to the IMAX to see Dune. The opportunity was too good to pass up. It was wonderful! But again, while we wore masks for the duration, not everyone else did.
Still, I reckon the ventilation was reasonably good in both the Royal Opera House and the BFI’s IMAX cinema. But that evening we checked into the Clayton Crown Hotel in Cricklewood, venue for the Return To London Town festival of Irish traditional music.
That’s where we spent two days going to concerts, sessions, and workshops, all of them indoors. The music was great, and we had a lovely time, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of nervousness throughout.
When we got back to Brighton, we both took lateral flow tests—thank goodness that these are freely available! We were both negative. We had dodged a viral bullet.
That was the last trip out of town we’ll be making for a while. But even for Brighton-based activities, this is the routine now: weigh up the risks, decide whether an activity is worth it, and if so, testing afterwards.
For example, the week after our trip to London, the Wednesday evening Irish music session at The Jolly Brewer pub started up again here in Brighton. It was one of the things I missed most during The Situation.
I wrote about this at the very start of the first lockdown:
I’m quite certain that one positive outcome of The Situation will be a new-found appreciation for activities we don’t have to do. I’m looking forward to sitting in a pub with a friend or two, or going to see a band, or a play or a film, and just thinking “this is nice.”
I certainly did find myself thinking “this is nice” during the session, which was as wonderful as I had remembered. But I was also thinking about ventilation, and distancing, and airflow. Like I said:
Risks. Benefits. Running the numbers. Making decisions. Trying to do the right thing. Trying to stay safe but also trying to live life.