We have now reached the beginning of the last two months of 2020. The world, at least my admittedly fairly unimportant part of it, looks remarkably similar to how it did at the end of the first two months of the year. Namely, there’s nothing going on right now, and on the horizon, I can glimpse the tantalising prospect bugger-all else happening any time soon.
These are tough times for the performing arts in Scotland. Normally, when writing this column, I would add a strap-line at the bottom informing readers of any forthcoming performances in the Scotland. There is now no need, as I have not stood on a stage at home since mid-March. Nor has any other Scottish performer.
Reading through my 2019 diary, I find out that I did over two-hundred live gigs between March and October. In the same seven-month period month this year, I have made a couple of forays over the border, playing a weird version of Russian roulette with drunk audiences in the Covid hotspots of Northern England, which is a risky strategy.
It looks very possible that comedy clubs and theatres will not be able to re-open before the end of this year, which is a disaster for the industry and a huge loss to the general public. It could mean no pantomimes this winter. Although I think panto could work with both audience and cast being socially-distanced, it may require the altering of some of the old traditions. For example, the audience would maybe have to warn: ‘He’s TWO METRES behind you!!’
The only certainty right now is uncertainty. That, plus the knowledge that while the entire planet may be enduring some rough times, we in the UK are almost certainly ensured our own particular version of Hell come the start of 2021. Let’s face it, if we thought Brexit was the biggest shitstorm that faced us last January, Brexit plus Johnson’s muddled approach to the pandemic promises to provide us all with a perfect clusterfuck to start off the New Year.
Less than a year ago, BoJo proudly announced that he had an ‘oven-ready deal’ with Europe, which would have been all well and good had he not spent the last twelve months fumbling about and trying to work out how to turn the gas on. Someone who can’t even strike a deal with Manchester is hardly likely to be able to do so with the European Union. Can’t negotiate with one city in your country? Best of luck trying to get any kind of agreement from twenty-seven other nations.
The PM now seems to be taking the attitude that if he ignores the EU, it will go away. As we all remember, he took a similar approach to Covid back in March, and we now all know how successful that turned out to be.
If you had asked me at the start of this year which issues concerned me the most, Brexit aside, I would have answered, not necessarily in this order, the following: climate change, Trump in the White House and the state of the Scotland football team.
Then along came a global pandemic and a worldwide shortage of toilet paper to put everything into perspective. We are so focussed on the one crisis facing humanity that we are in danger of not remembering what a parlous state the world was in before Coronavirus struck. But in the cases of some of those huge problems facing the planet, we may be beginning to see some glimmers of light at the end of this year-long dark tunnel. At least, climate change has been partly aided by a drop in foreign travel and a temporary fall in road traffic.
Deadline dictates I file this copy before the end of October. However, I hope by the time you read this Trump will be history. If he isn’t, please let’s all give up and go home. I honestly can’t believe even his stunt of pretending to have the virus (seriously, how many morbidly-obese 74-year-olds recover after two days?) will not have saved him from the wrath of the American voters. To claim to be ‘immune’ to a plague that has claimed the lives of a quarter-of-a-million of your citizens is just plain bonkers.
But, coming to the last of those issues, the Scotland football team has been going about its job quietly, and now stands one game away from its first major tournament since 1998. Not only that, it has done so without any fans to cheer them on. It did strike me that this could be the very reason the team is doing so well. Maybe us loyal foot-soldiers of the Tartan Army aren’t such a valuable twelfth man and have been holding them back all these years. Maybe Scotland should carry on playing behind closed doors – as long as we can all meet in socially-distanced groups of six to piss in fountains.
Vladimir McTavish may be performing somewhere before the end of 2020.