The UK was put into lockdown on 23 March 2020, the day before my 35th birthday. It all felt very surreal at first. It had felt somewhat innevitable due to all of the neighbouring nations doing the same.
I work as a piano and singing teacher and I decided a few days before we were officially in lockdown, to trial online lessons. The first week of online lessons made me feel very stressed. I was used to having the comfort of my own studio to teach in and now I was perched badly on a piano stool with my computer placed too high on a sideboard.
I was tense due to the dilemma of whether or not to keep my studio. In the end I decided to give notice and leave my studio. As I write this I am not sure how I will operate my teaching practise going forward.
I was also waiting to hear about whether or not the Edinburgh Festival Fringe would take place. I had already paid for my theatre and I was fearful I might lose all the money I had paid. Luckily I received a full refund so I plan to be back at the festival in 2021.
In the first two weeks of lockdown my mood was very up and down. One day I would be happy the next very depressed. The third week was the toughest for me. I had that lump in my throat feeling as if I needed to cry but couldn't.
I started to focus my time and energy on writing music to distract myself from the situation we were all facing. I wrote a couple of lockdown inspired pieces. Here is one that was titled A Musical Anthem to give hope to theatre performers who face perhaps the longest wait to return to their jobs.
During this period of time I was in regular contact with my friend Daz, a fellow piano teacher, and wrote him a piece called How Are You? Like myself he was finding the lockdown a real mental challenge due to the isolation at certain points.
I would write music at any time of the day possible until 2am. Writing intensively really helped keep my mind distracted from the huge change experienced in day-to-day life.
During this early part of lockdown my morale was quite low and I was looking out of my window one day whilst writing this piece about escaping to the horizon. I live in a high rise on the 9th floor so I can see a long way.
It was after hearing James Rowland's recording of this piece that I began to think about writing a series of songs for a character that is journeying through lockdown.
The first song, You and Me on The Screen, was influenced by the fact that overnight my life had become dictated by zoom and Skype meetings. Talking of which it was via Zoom that I was able to meet a theatre producer named Katy Lipson. I was fortunate enough to begin a weekly mentoring session with Katy in which I was able to discuss many aspects of the musical theatre industry and ask for her opinions and experiences. She has produced over 70 shows and is someone that I look up to in the industry.
The second song, Today's Gonna Be Different, was inspired by the fact that the gyms were now closed and all my workouts were now online. My personal trainer, Callum kept me going with FaceTime exercise sessions. Without these I would have been extremely lazy.... well lazier. I ate WAY too much chocolate and drank WAY too much wine throughout lockdown.
First Zoom meeting 1st May 2020 - during UK lockdown.
Without wanting to spoil the imagination of the listeners I shall simply say that the series of 10 episodes are inspired by my feelings, emotions and experiences during the lockdown. I hope that you will enjoy the Lonely Joe episodes that tell the story of one man's journey through lockdown.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 10th - A milestone in my life
I sold my first ever original composition. Admittedly I basically begged the world to buy a piece. In fact two people bought a copy of you and Me On The Screen on this day. THANK YOU to both of you. Xxx
During the early part of lockdown on a Thursday night at 8pm people would show their appreciation for the hard work of the NHS by clapping. I took this one step further and turned my music up VERY LOUD!!!
One of the stranger activities that took place during the lockdown was that I delivered some online sing-a-long concerts. This is a photo of me posing before uploading the photo to Facebook and letting people know what date I would be online. Then I would sing a set of musical theatre songs in my empty lounge and engage with the audience, who were in their own homes, via the screen.
Lockdown is ALL about the screen. Hence Lonely Joe's first song "You and Me On The Screen".
I SURRENDER!!! June 14th I had to have a home haircut!
A number 2 all over.
On the 15th June 2020 the shops in the UK reopened.
Things were certainly different to normal!!!
June 20th I interviewed my music pupil, Millie, about returning to school after lockdown. It was very interesting to hear a child's point of view on present circumstance.
June 20th Hampstead Heath, London. It was very busy and it seemed clear that many people in the city were already starting to ignore the 2 meter rule. I found it quite relieving to see as I really want normal life to resume at this point.
My mum bought a fire pit so that we could "safely" socialise and be together outdoors. Unfortunately it burnt a large hole in the lawn so on Father's Day (June 21st, 2020) I helped repair the damage.
My lonely Joe co-creator and friend, Jan, treated me to some cigars for selling my first ever original copy of music. I also rewarded myself with a cigar for completing epidsode 7 sound track and video editing. This was probably the most difficult episode in the series as I had to do most of the writing and editing by myself.
The week commencing 22nd June 2020 I started to get back to teaching people in person. Some families were very laid back and others were quite cautious wishing to remain with online lessons for a little longer.
At the end of my first week back a client of mine had a spare Corona Virus anti-body test which he gave me. The result was negative which I was surprised about. I feel that I had Corona Virus in February 2020 however I shall never know for sure. A negative result does not mean for sure you have never had the virus, just that you don't have any antibodies for it.
The UK government announced countries you could once again travel to at the beginning of July 2020. In a moment of madness I bid on Ebay for a car that I couldn't even afford to buy. All emergency savings gone and overdraft extended I shall pick this car up on Sunday 12th July.
The feeling of oppressive living during the UK lockdown has really has given me the feeling of "you only live once" and I want to make the most of my life and to have an exciting time. I plan to drive this car around Western Europe and then sell it upon my return.
July 17th-19th 2020
Prior to the glamorous road trip, in the Porsche (sorry just had to say that), I met up with three of my life long friends for a camping trip in the Devonshire Forest of Furze Wood. Once again the feeling of escapism and being social in person was MAGICAL! Never did I think I would enjoy having no toilet or shower for two days.