This was first published in Nerina Pallot’s newsletter, issued to her fans on 18.03.20 – we thought it was such a good idea (and such a warm piece of writing) that we asked if we could syndicate it to our readers. With all the fear in the world right now, alongside the damage to the creative and other industries, we loved seeing a silver lining.
The clue’s in the title, but watch out for Nerina Pallot’s online concerts – The Hold Tight Sessions – streamed every Thursday at 8pm; we’re still safe to make sound, even if it’s a little further away than the traditional front row. For more on this, click here to visit the Facebook event page or click here to visit Nerina Palllot’s YouTube Channel.
And there’s a couple of sneaky peaks of Nerina live at the end of this article, please excuse the picture quality of the first one but we thought it was a good clip/representation (and please excuse Gloria Hunniford’s segue…)
Be safe and be kind to each other; now is the time for community and compassion. With love from all at Birmingham Review x
Before I sat down to write this newsletter, I looked for a poem with which to begin it. I rifled through the books I already have, thought ‘surely me old mucker Philip Larkin has something to say about all this business. Or Pablo Neruda. Maybe go all high falutin’ and rustle up something by that naughty Mr Marvell. Or a bit of Rilke to make us all pause for thought and look all moody like tortured teenagers.’ I spent a long time leafing. Gave up. Googled – what was I gonna Google? Poems for uncertain times? (The poems in existence didn’t bank on times as uncertain as these.) Poems for a world on lockdown? (Nope. Nada in that larder.) Poems for when we’re up a creek nobody knew existed and you have ten thousand spoons when all you need is a paddle?
Guess what. There are no poems for this, but I suspect many will be born because of it.
Tell me, if even a mere month ago somebody had come to you and said in France, if you want to leave your house, you need papers to explain where you’re going and what you’re doing you would have thought them mad. The whole notion was preposterous; a conspiracy theory cooked up by the sort of people who think juicing cures cancer and love to tell you all about it on Facebook. And yet at midday yesterday, this is what came to pass. In France. Land of la liberté, egalité et fraternité. In Italy, people are singing to each other on balconies because that is all there is to do. The world is shutting its doors to keep out an enemy it cannot see, smell or hear.
Now, some of us have waited our whole lives for state sanctioned introversion. We feel validated. We got this. A legitimate excuse to stay home in our pants and read and listen to music and draw and never have to see people? Yes please thank you very much. But now that the option to come out of ourselves has been removed it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel very good at all. Perhaps we have more in common with those folk who move through the world as if it were an amusement arcade. We’re just not very good at parties. But now there aren’t any parties to go to anyway.
None of us have any real idea of what is about to unfold, or how long this unfolding will take. Some of us are living week to week, pay cheque to pay cheque. We may be working from home, but only for as long as the companies we work for can keep going. We may run businesses that are trickling away before our very eyes. Some of us may have seen our pensions – everything all those years of slog and sacrifice were meant to be worth it for – slip like sand through an hourglass in just a fortnight. Some of us may be ok. But if we don’t know what it is to come, how can we know for sure?
Here’s the thing. It’s a WE thing. Because for once in human history, every single one of us is affected and we are all in this together. And not in the way David Cameron meant either.
And that is a wonderful thing. I don’t mean this flippantly. Not a single one of us can come away untouched from this – not even Jeff Bezos or Vladimir Putin or Kay Burley’s hairdo. And for all the crappiness in the world – the war, the sickness, the terrorism, the poverty – we also live in a time of extraordinary progress. At the peak of scientific discovery, where right now, at this very minute, all over the planet, there are amazing men and women in white lab coats straining over microscopes and working at lightening speed to find a way to despatch this pesky virus into the biohazard dustbin of time. They will do it. They always do.
We are humans. We do some shitty things, but we also put men on the moon (like in my song sort of) and figure out that as well as making some excellent cheeses, mould can make life saving drugs. We also like to dress our cats in unicorn costumes.
Right now, as I see it, we can only control ourselves. Everything else is out of our jurisdiction – but isn’t it always that way, much as we like to convince ourselves otherwise? So with that in mind, we have to sit this out. Take care of ourselves and each other as best we can. Eat well. Brush our teeth. Get some rest. Watch the bare minimum of news. Concentrate on only each day as it comes. Add gin where necessary.
Do what we can.
What I can do is sing and play music and chat nonsense. And so that is what I’m gonna do for you in coming weeks. Every Thursday at 8PM UK time I’m going to do a little concert from my living room for you. I will happily take requests – although I may need them a day or two in advance to avoid disappointment because I have written A LOT of songs now as I’m old. If glitch free technology allows, I might be able to get some musical friends to join me from their living rooms too. We’re looking into it.
Feel free to dress up and share your photos of sartorial elegance. THIS MEANS PLEASE WEAR CLOTHING. The fancier, the better. I refuse to let you slip into the slovenly ways of the couch potato. We are going to get up every day and make an effort and put lipstick on even if the only person there to witness it is the cat.
‘Stay Lucky’ – Nerina Pallot (live from the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge)
‘Sophia’ – Nerina Pallot (performed live on Heaven and Earth / BBC)
Nerina Pallot will be hosting a living room concert every Thursday from 8pm GMT – The Hold Tight Sessions. For more on this, click here to visit the Facebook event page – or click here to visit Nerina Pallot’s YouTube channel.
For more on Nerina Pallot, visit www.nerinapallot.com
NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.
If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.