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Modern choirs for people who love to sing

Lockdown Lexicon part 3!

And here you are... the final part of Brian's fabulous lockdown lexicon! 

Lockdown Lexicon
An alphabetical journey through four months of Covid-19.


R is for REM. No, not the band (remember Shiny Happy People?). The sleep.
Rapid Eye Movement sleep is dream sleep. During lockdown, many people have observed that they
have been having particularly vivid dreams. Psychologists reckon that the combination of heightened emotions, longer/deeper sleep and fewer demands on our days, during lockdown, account for our relatively detailed recall of dreams that contain strong, often emotive, images. Just think of all the money our generation wasted on LSD in the 60s/70s!

S is for Social Distancing. It’s been tough, hasn’t it? Keeping social distance, I mean. (See also “C is for Covidiot”) There hasn’t been a predictable pattern to those who seem oblivious to it. Just as many old as young have seemed likely to get closer than one would wish... And then there are the complications: “one metre plus”; “not sitting or standing face-to-face”; “don’t shout”; “don’t sing”; “and, if you do sing, it’s three metres apart and only side by side” . . . Thank heavens for VinChoir.

S is also for Spendemic. I am told that there are people who like to go shopping. For, like, clothes and stuff. They like going to shops. To touch things, try them on, then buy them. Often for lots of
money. Covid-19 having stopped them in their tracks, they have gone online in their millions, melting their plastic cards to buy almost anything. Anything they can touch.
Adding supermarket home deliveries into the mix, the narrow road on which I live is regularly blocked by Amazon, UPS, Sainsbury’s, FedEx, Ocado, Tesco, Argos, Currys and scores of anonymous white vans . . . Has the spendemic blighted your family or neighbourhood?

T is for Toilet Rolls. Sunday March 1 2020. The world went bonkers for toilet rolls! By the end of the week, in Moscow, if you had the right contacts, and paid a few bribes along the way, you could buy a single roll of Cushelle on the black market for 400,000 roubles. Courtiers in Buckingham Palace worked in shifts to cut copies of The Times into neat rectangles and thread them on to golden strings, to hang in royal privies. In Colombia, the Medellin drug cartel was re-forming, with a plan for an aggressive takeover of the manufacture, supply, and global distribution of Andrex. A spokesman said, “It will be way more profitable than our former business.”
Sadly, by the time I had almost completed negotiations to pay for a penthouse flat in London’s Docklands with a 16-pack of Lidl’s own brand medicated toilet roll, the bottom fell out of the market. Sad for some – but a great relief to us all.

T is also for Tom Moore. We salute you – Sir!

U is for Unprecedented. It became, during lockdown, our most overused five syllable word. In fact,
its frequency of use by politicians and journalists is ... 

V is for VinChoir. (See also “Z is for Zoom”.) What a wonderful initiative from Mark, Jude and Karen – to take inChoir online, once our weekly gatherings in church halls, schools and community centres, had to be suspended. Hundreds of us came together, shoulder to shoulder (onscreen) to sing old songs and new. It has been a little oasis of pleasure in the locked down week. Being such a happy and sociable gathering, many chose to lubricate their singing with wine, beer, G&T . . . Now, that may pose a dilemma for Mark with our next live performances.

Cast your mind back to the late seventies and early eighties, when darts became a major spectacle on television. Most of the top players at that time would glug generously from a glass of beer – or some other alcoholic drink – between throws. Unheard of in other televised sports and games. Why was dart-playing different?

Well, because of the psychological phenomenon: state-dependent learning.

If we learn knowledge or skills in an altered state of mind, we can only recall the knowledge accurately, or reach the same level of learned skill, in that altered state of mind. That generation of darts players developed and honed their skills in pubs. Whilst drinking. They couldn’t, therefore, reach levels of peak performance without the booze.
Mark, maybe it was a mistake to get VinChoirers to learn new songs. When we next perform in public, you have a choice: have a few bottles of wine available during the vocal warm-up so that we can perform the new material, or we sing songs exclusively from our back catalogue . . .

W is for Working from Home. In the world of office work, this has always been a phrase uttered between quotation marks: I’m sorry, Ruth isn’t available. She’s “working from home” today.

You could always hear the slight acidity in the words. Working in the office for four days and “working from home” for one day – we all knew what that meant. Working for only four days.

It was tantamount to “pulling a sickie”. Every week!
My, how the world has changed. Everybody who has had the good fortune to cling on to a job, is working from home. Now they are heroes! They balance the pressures and distractions of partners, children and domestic pets whilst putting in a full shift every day. And, surprise, surprise . . . they are equally, if not more, productive!

But I don’t suppose that these coronavirus heroes stop and think, for a single moment, “Actually, I was really unfair to Ruth.”

W is also for “What day of the week is it?” Do I really have to add anything?

X is for X-rated. VinChoirers were invited to record themselves singing a song, then send the recording, via whatsapp, to the sound wizard, Steve North. So a whatsapp group was set up. Join up. Drop off your recording. Leave. Easy peasy.

But never underestimate inChoirers’ profound addiction to chatting (have you seen how long it takes us to leave a stage?). What was originally intended to be a post-box became another platform for encouragement, gossip, jokes, announcements, photo and video exchanges . . . and so on. Having dropped off a recording and exited, I’m not at all sure what happened. But recordings stopped and the whatsapp group closed. Whispers of some gentleman (?) infiltrating the group to make unsavoury offers and suggestions to startled inChoirers. Nowhere online is private, it seems. All a bit sad.

Y is for Yearning. “a strong feeling of wishing for something, especially something that you cannot have or get easily” (Cambridge English Dictionary)
Whether it may have been for: holding a new-born grandchild, or drinking a draught beer in your local; being at the bedside of a dying relative, or buying clothes in Primark; having your usual brand of baked beans for breakfast, or breathing fresh sea air, yearning has grown in covid-19’s shadow. And, like covid-19, it won’t go away any time soon.

Z is for Zoom!
Zoom 1: Lyons Maid created an ice lolly in a shape that was a hybrid of Thunderbirds 3 and 4. What
else to call it but Zoom? Who else to advertise it but Lady Penelope! A 6d treat! (That’s six old pennies ...

Zoom 2: “Zoom” by Fat Larry’s Band reached number 2 in the UK charts in 1982. Nice tune for a stumble around during the last dance. But don’t listen too critically to the lyrics!

Zoom 3: a delightful limited edition print by the Leicestershire artist Jo McChesney, exhibited at the 2019 RA Summer Exhibition.

Zoom 4: Well, naturally, the home of VinChoir!! Video-conferencing software has become hot property during lockdown. Despite international banks ditching Zoom due to its hackability (see also “X is for X-rated”), it has been a huge hit with community choirs, music ensembles, TV programme makers, and dispersed families.

In four months, Zoom has become a household name. When we vacuum clean a carpet, we Hoover it. When we search for something on the internet, we Google it. Now, to keep in touch with friends, family, and furloughed colleagues, we Zoom.

In less than a year, Zoom’s market value has increased from $16bn to $42bn. Its founder, Eric Yuen’s net worth is now rising faster than that of any other person in North America.

Zoom! Indeed.
Even in a global pandemic: It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good!