Blog : Be The Light – choosing hope as a UK artist living through the Coronavirus pandemic

TIC #32 - Let's Be The LightONLINE GIG ALERT – I’ll be performing two brand new songs online next Wednesday 25th March at 10am (UK time) as part of the Stay At Home Festival by Cosmic Shambles, on a bill with Robin Ince, Josie Long, Jo Brand and Luke Wright. The link to watch will be on this page at 9am that day, and there are shows happening every day next week so check out the schedule for some treats!

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In my house, there’s usually barely enough food in the fridge to scrape together one proper meal and maybe half of something really weird, so it was strange doing a “proper shop” last weekend.

Tim and I went to Aylesbury on Saturday to see Frank Turner play, and before the show Frank gave very generously of his time for my upcoming podcast series. We talked for more than an hour about writing songs, the bravado of touring, Bruce Springsteen, homemade cheesecake and Twitter arseholes, and it was a treat to watch him perform a cathartic 21 song solo set to a devoted audience in the beautiful Waterside Theatre.

It seems surreal now, to have been out and about so recently without much of a care. I remember being rattled by the emptiness of the M4 on Saturday afternoon as we drove over from Bristol, joking with a man in the service station WH Smith about how I hoped we wouldn’t see any zombies walking down the middle of the road. We stopped in to see some friends on the way home on Sunday, hugging hello and goodbye as normal, talking about how weird everything was and how obscene it felt to be going about our online music businesses when there were much bigger things going on in the world (but, aren’t there always?). I had a nice time drawing unicorns with Clementine, aged 4, and we stopped off at an Oxfordshire Aldi for the aforementioned “proper shop”.

It’s so easy to forget how much we take for granted in our pampered lives. We turn a tap and water comes out. We flick a switch and the light comes on. We go to the shop and buy the basics. Life has become less simple, really fucking fast.

In my entire lifetime I’ve never seen a supermarket shelf emptied by fear, but I saw several that afternoon. It was jarring. Yes, I’d heard this was happening, but it’s easy to dismiss online chat as careless gossip or exaggeration.

At the time of writing there are no eggs to be had in my villagey part of North West Bristol, but our next door neighbours had some spare the other day and kindly shared. Brown basmati rice is still plentiful, but pasta is a rumour. Tim and I are working out a new system now neither of us want to go inside a shop, but click and collect slots are like fairydust. I’ll keep braving the Post Office, mostly because I get to have a chat and a laugh with the nice people there who have sent out thousands of packages to you lovely lot in the past 18 months, but apart from that and thrice daily dog walks, I’m staying in.

It’s not a big change for me, day to day – I’ve been working from home on and off for 16 years and became a full time music making hermit last February – but the backdrop of existential horror is brand new. Before, I chose to spend all day in my studio writing and reading and studying and adminning, with occasional forays into the world when I needed to be around the three dimensional people. It’s quite different to have your world made smaller by external forces.

I know many of you will be making the transition to working from home, which is why on Monday I made my back catalogue available in instrumental form on a free / PWYW basis. Work has suddenly become very uncertain not only for freelance artists like me, but for salaried folks, too. I want to help in the only way I can really, by providing friendship and music.

Massive thanks to Bandcamp for waiving their cut of all sales today, I’m happy to pass that onto you with a 20% off code for anything in my shop – just enter lovenotwar at checkout.

After moving from the eyebrow-raised-yeah-right phase and passing quickly through fear / anger, incredulousness and denial, on Wednesday I found myself sitting uselessly at my computer, reading too much and holding back floods of tears. It was all just too big for me to handle, all of a sudden, and there was nothing I could do about any of it. Eventually I let the tears come out and wondered why I’d tried to hold them back in the first place.

Having checked with some of my more sensitive friends since, I’ve learned it’s not unusual to be bursting into tears, feeling useless or even nauseous about these unprecedented world events – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Whatever your emotional response at the moment, it’s valid.

One of the weirdest things about all this is that every single person is going through it. I can’t think of any other time that’s been the case. It’s important to take time to try and understand where people are coming from now more than ever, but it’s also ok to put your (reasonable) needs first.

People show their true colours in stressful, emotional times and I’m trying to stay away from social media feeds again at the moment, trying to allow all the things I do to stay on an even emotional keel outside of a global pandemic to work. I’ve found the days when I’ve given myself the opportunity to go for a run, do some yoga, meditate and write my Morning Pages feel much easier to handle. This morning I even wrote a song, which I’m going to record when I’ve posted this letter off to you. Yes, it’s about what’s going on – how could it not be?! – but I’m choosing to try and focus on hope.

I’m not willing to down tools and stare at a screen, waiting to find out what’s possible according to whoever is speaking at that moment. I’m not going to sit around imagining the very worst and pontificating on the inevitability of that bleak result.

I choose hope, and music, and human connections, and love, and laughing at South Park at lunchtime, and cuddling my dogs, and smiling at all my neighbours, and making friends with 4 year olds, and checking in on Dot at number 12, and signing up as a local volunteer, and collaborating with a great designer on a logo for the new project, and planning at-home video shoots, and working on my podcast series, and getting as much fresh air as I can, and writing to you. What else is any of this pampered freedom for?

So, tell me – what’s the best thing that happened to you this week? As always, feel free to email if you aren’t comfortable writing in the comments.

My Artist’s Way guru Julia Cameron wisely said “We always do the best we can by the light we have to see by”.

Let’s be the light.

LOVE,
Laura xxx

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33 thoughts on “Be The Light – choosing hope as a UK artist living through the Coronavirus pandemic

  1. Brian says:

    The 8 o’clock applause has been pretty nice (I live in Spain)
    The cats are enjoying us being at home all day too. I think. Maybe we’re interfering with their plot to take over the world?

    Oh, and aerobics is a surprisingly okay substitute for being able to go for a run. If this was Pre-youtube it really WOULD have been a nightmare.

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      I heard about the 8 o’clock applause and it brought tears to my eyes – what a wonderful thing. A British friend is in Paris and didn’t know what it was at first, of course! How is day to day life where are you are the moment?

      I do DDP yoga which is a series of videos to use at home, and have been keeping up my twice a week jogs and once a week YouTube Pilates, my hermit lifestyle was good training for this, weirdly! Stay safe, Brian x

  2. Morgan Gleave says:

    It’s been a weird week. My mental health has taken a battering, but I’ve been able to create something every day, including a PDF zine about hip hop kittens, full of cartoons and funny raps, which I’ve put on Gumroad. I just wanted to create something that made people smile and laugh. Best thing I’ve done all week? Probably!

    I’ve been listening to all of your instrumentals whilst making art and cooking, and made a harmonica version of Scared to Capsize, the first song I ever heard you play. It’s been lovely seeing your reaction to these strange times. Makes me happy.

    I’ve been trying to play music every day, and stay positive and creative. Art is what I do best, and if it can help anyone, I’m doing the right thing.

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      That’s a wonderful way to look at it, Morgan, well done for keeping on keeping on. Can you share a link here to your zine please? I’m sure others would love to see it! x

      1. Morgan Gleave says:

        Thanks Laura! Making art is making me really happy right now…. You can find my zine at:
        https://gumroad.com/morgangleave

  3. Pierre LaGrandeur says:

    I was just on Bandcamp, I believe it has crashed, at least for Downloads. I guess their promotion was a success.

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Ah yes, that was a bit of a shame wasn’t it! Maybe fortify the barracks before sending everyone to the website? Lovely gesture from them, though, they’re good people. Stay safe, Pierre x

  4. Collin Avis says:

    Off to get digital down loads as all my vinyl is in storage due to house move (may not happen).

    On the bright side have just brought a camper van so I will have your music with me whilst on the move.

    Hope everyone stays well, healthy and safe

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Happy camper vanning, Collin! What a fun way to travel. Fingers crossed your house move can go ahead, it’s so strange putting everything on hold like this isn’t it.

  5. Rich Dixon says:

    Not been a bad week (apart from the obvious).
    I had a visit from a Sparrow Hawk, much to the annoyance of the garden birds around my feeders. I don’t know how to attach a photo on this, but it was a handsome bird.
    Managed to get a couple of new job applications sent out online, and my long-standing ankle injury (from November last year) is responding well enough to rehab that I am able to jog on it – just in time for the weather to pick up! I have managed 10,000 steps each day for the past month, with a combination of walking and gentle jogging.
    Enjoying the instrumental version of ‘Direction Of Travel’.
    Like you, I have signed up to my village volunteer list.
    Pasta is non-existent in my local stores, so I think I will dust off my pasta machine and go and buy flour and eggs instead (if available….)
    Keep safe.

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Nice work, Rich! I had a long and slow recovery from my broken foot, it’s only really recently I’ve been able to jog without thinking about it. I found near-daily DDP yoga really pushed me through the other side, but I still had trouble with soleus pain for a while. Really nasty, squeezey pain, yuk. My physio told me to do loads of squats and lunges to help strengthen for running, definitely worth a go if you aren’t already doing it. Hooray for the sparrowhawk, though did it steal all the food off the little ones? I keep seeing jackdaws pushing sparrows out of the way in my street.

  6. Julia Georgiou says:

    This week I have been working at home since my team all got remote access to our systems. It’s been good to sit and work in the conservatory, and our garden visitors have been, for the first time I’ve seen, goldfinches and a wren.

    It’s been an odd week indeed. I’m the acting chair of our staff association, so you can only imagine what that’s been like. As Pratcjett says “May you live in interesting times” and perhaps he was right in that it’s not a good thing.

    I’ve not listened to much music this week but I have taken the opportunity, at 55 years old, to sign up for a mathematics degree at the OU. Must be mad!

    Stay safe and well.

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Not mad at all – why not? We have to make plans and do the things that call to us, right? I hope next week is a bit calmer for you x

  7. John Palmer says:

    I have been working dawn till dusk every day (cushily, from home, what luxury – I have a roof, what luxury) – public sector comms re virus to our 320,000 county residents and media and 2,500 staff etc – which unfortunately entails keeping a close ear and eye on the national news all day long too. My cats Sherlock and Rory keep me sane though, as always. I’ve been spiritboosting (virtually) with friends and artists contacts, sharing humour, support, an ear to listen to their serious anxieties and fears, but also to share positivity and hope and perspective. Having lived through imminent nuclear holocaust threat, and had 13 years on the dole in the Thatcher years onwards, actually helps prepare you for radical ways of (different) living. It is so uplifting and beautiful and positive and resonating, to read your words about what you are naturally choosing – hope, music, connections, love, being creative, giving consideration to others less well placed / vulnerable. Right now, togetherness (in our hearts, minds and spirits) really really really matters. We WILL be strong together – and we will flourish on the other side of this.

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      What lovely words, John, thank you. Your job sounds really tough but it sounds like you’re cleverly balancing it with checking in with friends. I’m going to be sociable this week for the first time in a while, a friend in Berlin is holding daily Zoom coffee chats so I’m going to dial in tomorrow and say hello. I tend to go inwards when big stuff is happening but I think it’s more important than ever to feel like we’re all connected in good ways. I’ve found Facebook more than usually obnoxious recently so it’s just about finding balance, somehow. More fresh air though, for sure! Stay safe x

  8. Jen says:

    I’ve been working from home since mid-last week. I’m still trying to get used to the whole social distancing thing. My cats, however, are in heaven: attention whenever they want it and they get dinner on time.

    My bright spot has been the chicks (baby chickens) I got last weekend (before everything started shutting down). They’re adorable and fluffy and I’ve been sharing their cuteness with all my friends virtually. It will be a while yet before I can introduce them to the rest of the flock, but it’s nice to have the diversion right now.

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Ahhhhh chicks!!! How lovely. I presume the cats don’t have access to those?! 😉 I’m finding the dogs such a massive help during this time, they neither know or give a shit about what’s in the news, and they’re very demanding about timely food, walks and cuddles. If you start stroking Benji and stop before he’s ready, he headbutts you or taps you on the arm with his paw. Such a great dog. What are your cats called? x

  9. Philip Barlow says:

    Erica’s post about the Parisians. coming to their windows and balconies every night at 8 to make noise with pots and pans to show they thanks to the health workers had me in tears. Little human candies everywhere. thank you for being one ❤️

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Same here!!!!! Beautiful things are happening, and I *love* the “human candles” phrase. Gorgeous. Love to you all x

  10. Noel says:

    Thanks for a really lovely blog post. Stay safe and be loved.

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Thanks for reading and for saying hello, Noel! Hugs x

  11. Groot says:

    Thank you for your encouragement to look to hope and be the light! We so need that in these challenging times. Best thing this week was starting doing the morning pages as talked about in the artists way. Stay safe everyone.

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Oh that’s wonderful to hear – are you enjoying them? I did really well with them for quite a few weeks and then got to a point where I was really sick of myself, I felt like I was writing the same thing every day and was annoying myself by doing it. I took the advice in the book though and kept going, and it was worth it. Last weekend I got all freaked out and didn’t do them for four days, and it has a massive impact on how I felt. I’m doing them every morning again now. and things feel a lot calmer.

      1. Groot says:

        Hi yes doing the morning pages sometimes flows and other times is quite a struggle. I have to tell myself to just write whatever random thoughts come into my head. That can feel quite vulnerable too, so I have made it really clear on the front of the note book it’s private, not for anyone else to read. By the way watched the online gig yesterday, great stuff Thanks!

        1. Laura Kidd says:

          Thank *you*! I am a notebook hoarder so I need to have a think about disposing of the morning pages ones for sure, I don’t assume that “the world” would be interested in reading all my gubbins when I’m not here any more but the idea of someone reading my MPs is EXCRUCIATING!

  12. Dave says:

    Like everyone here this week has been a surreal experience made very real by a visit to my local Asda to find (like most people) a world shortage of bog roll, pasta and many other stables of life. Rocked up to Wokingham for a job Monday only to be heading home on the Wednesday due to Covid 19….(I haven’t got it but one guys partner had it and had to self isolate plus the business I work for decided to pull all field based staff home until further notice (who knows when that will be) ..Cat taking up much of my time as well as my beloved SMW music collection …..and some remote online work stuff collaborating with fellow team members….must access smw instrumentals soon and hope to join the online gig next wed but bugger me we have team meets online 9.30 so yikes? Wondering if you can do catch up anyone know? Love to everyone and massive respect ppl doing volunteering outreaching in a small way to some older neighbours here too….let the light of collaboration and shared passions burn through this crises

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Well said, Dave!! I’m pretty certain there will be a catchup option, Facebook Live stuff is usually there to watch again later… I won’t be on at 10am sharp I don’t think, but I should know more tomorrow and will send a quick email round to let you all know. I hope you’re having a great weekend, we’re all back to it again tomorrow. Courage, all! x

  13. Andre Hill says:

    Nice blog Laura, as ever.

    Yes the world is a little surreal right now. I dragged myself down to London om Monday (20) for the week arriving 15 minutes before they sent out an email advising anyone who could to work from home. If only they had done that the previous Friday I could have saved me the train journey & cost. In the end I stayed over one night mainly to give my hotel one night’s pay at least, and returned home Tuesday. I was the only person from our team of 15 in the office. Very odd although I got a lot done.

    To be honest the highlight of my week last week was probably downloading 2 of your new instrumental albums. Not a lot else went spectacularly well for us unfortunately as we had a virus casualty close to home. Not actual family but close enough. Thankfully we all appear to be fine in our house. Today however I did manage to buy 4 toilet rolls. Hallelujah!! Still not got my hands on any disinfecting wipes or gel though lol.

    Was the 20% fee waiving only on last Friday? Slightly annoyed if so because (a) I got the others earlier and (b) I didn’t come to your blog on the day and the email arrived today (23), so I have missed my chance. Not that I want to get anything cheaper, I just want you to get the maximum amount of my money.

    Hopefully I will get to see/listen to you on Wednesday. Keep up the good work Laura.

    Andre xxx

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Thanks so much, Andre, and it’s lovely to hear from you as always. I hope you’re keeping well.

  14. Alex says:

    Thank you for the link to the Stay at home festival that looks really great. That has been one positive thing this week, seeing how different artists are finding way to still remain creative and share their work with the world.
    I can’t lie, I feel isolated. I am working and living at home, on my own, and am not seeing anyone (apart from the odd friendly shop keeper). I’m grateful for the phone and social media at the moment, but realised how much in life I took for granted. Seeing friends, going out to gigs. giving and receiving hugs. Simple, but vital things.
    I also keep getting emotional at tiny things. Just a local shopkeeper saying “Take, care, keep safe and look after yourself”, as I left the shop was enough to set me off at the weekend. As was seeing a friends band doing an, instagrammed, self isolated song.

    It’s going to be a rough time ahead, but we’ll get through it 🙂

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      That’s the spirit, Alex, though I’ll admit to not being able to feel hopeful every minute of the day. I feel so lucky to have my tiny family in the same house, I know that’s not the case for lots of people. I’m certainly looking ahead to doing some gigs with real people in the room and setting up a hug line for after the show. Maybe we could do a hug conga or something! I’m finding neighbours and shopkeepers a lot more responsive to a cheery “good morning”, it’s amazing what a difference that can make to someone’s day. Keep on keeping on x

  15. Ian Hall says:

    The best thing that happened was that we managed to set up my first Skype bass lesson today and it went well (unlike my playing which was shocking!). I could probably get by on using online video teaching resources, but my teacher will obviously be facing an uncertain future. It’s made me happy that with her other students also reporting Skype successes, she will. at least be able to earn a reasonable income in the next few months.
    The stress induced by my playing might not be good for her mental health, however…..

    1. Laura Kidd says:

      Ha well at least she can mute her students now!! 😉 Good on you for keeping up the lessons, and it’s very kind of you to think of her income as well. It’s an uncertain time for everyone, all those things really matter more than ever. I love online learning but you can’t beat a teacher who knows you and can guide you in a way that will work best for you. Happy bass-ing!

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