This Friday last year was the day schools closed to all but a small number of children of key workers. I vividly remember taking our Year 11's final assembly and then sending them on their way, their last year cut short, no exams, no prom, no 'proper' leaving, the rites of passage truncated. Three days earlier our son Isaac had been told to begin shielding and that's where he's been ever since, cut off from the rest of the world. I remember feeling last March that we were in this for the long haul, that the school year was probably going to be seen out in lockdown (and biting my tongue when some of the kids suggested that they'd be back in a few weeks- some adults too seemed to think that three weeks lockdown would be enough to see Covid dealt with). But to be here a year later, still in lockdown, is still hard to fathom. A whole year. In this part of the country, apart from a brief spell last summer when the government paid people to go to restaurants and spread the virus, we've been living under some form of lockdown or tiering restrictions ever since. A year of living in lockdown has taken its toll on people in all sorts of ways but it also shows that people can adapt and get used to anything if we have to and that most people do see that in extreme times sacrifices have to be made for the greater good.
I've kept up my habit of walking most evenings. Sometimes now there's still a bit of light in the sky, the dusk pushed back a little further every day. I noticed two nights ago while walking round in the dark that the blossom has suddenly appeared on the trees. I've started listening to music while walking. It's a good distraction- otherwise I just go over frustrations with work or whatever in my head and come back having had some exercise but not really feeling any mental benefit. Listening to music through headphones always adds a slightly cinematic feeling to walking, the music wrapped around your head like a personal soundtrack. This song by Ride came on in my headphones two nights ago and it floored me, the combination of guitars, waves of FX, the twin vocals and that drop out part, when everything falls away to just the grungy bassline. The lines, 'Always keep your eyes on the pulsar/ Guiding you home from wherever you are/ We're on our way home from another star/ It's been so long and we've come so far', were almost enough to move me to tears- the potency of pop music eh?
I can't think of any other bands who have reformed in middle age and who have done it as well as Ride. I wasn't too fussed about them first time around. I bought their debut EP and then a couple of others from the first shoegaze phase but lost interest after that. Their re- union hasn't been just for the payday, a jaunt around the heritage circuit playing the greatest hits. They've recorded two albums and several EPs/ singles that are better than the ones they made as young men- songs from Weather Dairies like Lannoy Point, All I Want and the superb lost summer shimmer of Cali, Pulsar and Cold Water People from Tomorrow's Shore and Future Love from This Is Not A Safe Place to list but a few. They've done it right- a sense of unfinished business, with age and experience and a determination not to get it wrong twice.