Lockdown costs…

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A big lockdown breakthrough this week when finally, an online gig came off. Lots of enquiries to date – to which I have always said ‘yes’ and without needing to check my diary!

But this enquiry firms up. The agent calls - ‘Dom, this gig’s on. Get your shit together.’

A twenty minutes slot (they requested half hour) on Microsoft Teams to a bunch of European data analysts in the world of banking and finance.

Gulp!

‘Great, I can do my new routine on data analysis.’

And yet oddly, I was excited at the prospect. Not least because I haven’t gigged since March and had zero income.

But also for the shear challenge of the thing.

So for the first time in Lockdown, I pulled on a crisp white shirt which even drew the fleeting eye-line of Mrs H.

Normally a gig with a small audience is more challenging. I would prefer to have 500 than 50 people before me. More difficult to create an atmosphere on which to lean and hopefully, to surf. In a small crowd, it doesn’t take many disinterested non-laughers to make their presence felt. So an online gig with a small audience – not to mention the majority having English as a second language is foreboding.

And yet, bring it on. Needs must and all that.

So, in my newly ironed shirt, I sat down (carefully) in my lounge as the virtual conference began and I watched my fellow speakers discussing things in English and yet I hardly understood a word. And with each word - my anxiety grew.

Usually before a gig, I like to pace. Look at the room and get a sense and a feel. Try to observe things that I can back-ref (ease-in laughs, I call them). But no such opportunities with a lockdown gig. Just talking heads before me and no context.

Nice though, not having to drive for hours to some conference centre. And nice to be wearing slippers for a gig, albeit odd slippers because my dog, Tessa has a fetish. As my slot approaches, old habits resurface. I run my links and key beats. I write a few notes and carefully order the wording of how I might begin. In any anecdote, there are natural beats for laughter and I like to lean heavily on pauses – both as a way to eke out laughter but also to account for a lack of decent material. But this is a brave option when my audience is muted.

With a Q n A to close – my 20 minutes slot quickly becomes 45 minutes by the time I hit END MEETING and the agent is immediately in touch - it’s been a triumph.

Which is when the euphoria hits me.

Sure, the income is welcome but it is the sense of achievement that is even more valuable and timely. Because self-esteem is invaluable and it occurs to me that it might be the hidden cost of lockdown.

And especially so for those who are furloughed and being paid by governments to stay at home and do little work and let’s face it, in some cases, nothing.

This gig demonstrates that there is a hidden cost to doing nothing. Because we forego the benefits of achieving something and that this might even be compounded by a sense of shame for getting something for nothing.

Much is made of Covid 19 and its impact on mental health. Lockdown highlights the cost to our mental well-being when we don’t have the purpose of work and the structure it provides. And I write as someone without the ruinous financial worries that plague some  people.

On the radio this morning, a survey is announced that people who volunteer in their community live longer and happier lives – which I interpret as proving this very thing.

I am writing a new novel in lockdown. It might never be published; this will depend on what emerges and how good it is. But even if it never gets an ISBN, it has filled my diary, provided me with some hope and therefore is already worth it and my time. For those interested, the first ten chapters are on my Patreon site.

Being stretched is important – and believe me, how many times in my life have I wished that I could be stretched.

The gig was a success. And thank God, because my next one is not until October. But being stretched is most helpful in areas of our competence.

Imagine then the horror at the end of my presentation on Microsoft Teams – when the moderator thanks me and then throws the forum open to questions…

Always an anxious moment for a speaker. No questions being the equivalent to a thumbs down by the Roman Emperor.

But fortunately, there are lots of people with questions and the relief in the moderators voice is unmistakable. And for me, too.

Our first question for Dominic, is from Christian in Copenhagen…

(and I kid you not)

“What do you think banks should do when it comes data sharing and the issues of financial trust?”

Talk about a stretch too far.

 

 

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21 Comments

  1. Anna June 14, 2020
    Reply

    Waiting for the next podcast!!

    • Tim Searle June 15, 2020
      Reply

      Hello Dom,
      Good stuff. I’m glad to hear that gig went well and that you’re keeping busy with a new book. I look forward to that.
      I’m keeping busy working from home, us animation folk are like cockroaches, somehow keeping going in spite of everything.
      All the very best to you, Nikki and the kids in these odd times.
      Cheers,
      Tim

      • Dom June 15, 2020
        Reply

        Nice one Timmo – i miss our little chats and conflabs. Oh the ‘news’ days again. Hope Lisa and the kids are well. Onwards as they say, (with everything crossed!)

  2. Jess June 14, 2020
    Reply

    This was fun to read! My dad had to attend a Parent Teacher Conference online, and he successfully managed to do it and hasn’t stopped bragging about it! (I don’t think it’s going to be anytime soon…)

  3. julie June 14, 2020
    Reply

    Glad it went well for you. This is the longest I’ve gone without working since I was 19. It’s definitely been an odd time but being a single mother receiving benefits from my late husband I was already receiving some assistance as well. However I have always had to work 2 to 3 jobs at times, long hours, overnights, weekends and holidays to take care of my family. It’s ironic that now that we are “on our own” I am making more from unemployment than I did working. Every month I save a little here and there for my children but have still tried to donate to those in need during this crisis. I can’t believe after all these years and tears that I am NOW actually in a position to not just save for my kids but to give back. How did I go from struggling paycheck to paycheck to having savings accounts and a nest egg during a pandemic? Yes I think for any of us blessed for whatever reason during this time with either financial stability or good health we should be volunteering, pursuing our creative outlets and donating to charitable causes. Bravo sir! Good luck on your new book, future gigs and blessing to you and your family. Blessed be from Texas.

  4. molly jameson June 14, 2020
    Reply

    Congratulations Dom on the gig, after the recent ease in lockdown restrictions there’s definitely an eerie form of anxiety on all of us about getting back out there into the working world !! Sounds like you smashed the gig, hopefully there will be more to come, congratulations again !

  5. Reply

    Hello Mr Holland, as always, this blog has been amazing. I’m studying very hard for my university access exams which are in two weeks and your blogs have helped me allowing me to take a break and spend a funny moment during the lockdown. Thank you so much.

  6. Sydnee Coleman June 14, 2020
    Reply

    Talk about a stretch, lovely blog as always Mr. H. I’m glad you finally found a gig, I can’t believe you have to wait till October for your next one, I’m glad this one went really really welI can’t believe you have to wait till October for your next one, I’m glad this one went extremely well for you, as I hope the next one will too.

  7. Diana June 14, 2020
    Reply

    I am an artist and part time prof at local university. When the virus hit we had to move face-to-face classes (art studio) to on-line. It totally threw me off. I never had enough confidence to go virtual with the class. Weird. Fortunately my mad skills with the platform (Canvas) I created some discussion boards and Facebook groups. The time spent at home has given opportunities to do my own work, when the motivation is there. I can definitely see your issues with not being face-to-face with you audience. Studio art requires that up close and personal experience with my audience also. Being in the classroom watching the students work gives you opportunities to help them work through technical challenges. The majority of their at-home projects showed a lack of experienced instruction and 10% of the students just quit. The university is set to open its doors in the fall. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for all parts of the world to be back to normal.

  8. Diana Synatzske June 14, 2020
    Reply

    I am an artist and part time prof at local university. When the virus hit we had to move face-to-face classes (art studio) to on-line. It totally threw me off. I never had enough confidence to go virtual with the class. Weird. Fortunately my mad skills with the platform (Canvas) I created some discussion boards and Facebook groups. The time spent at home has given opportunities to do my own work, when the motivation is there. I can definitely see your issues with not being face-to-face with you audience. Studio art requires that up close and personal experience with my audience also. Being in the classroom watching the students work gives you opportunities to help them work through technical challenges. The majority of their at-home projects showed a lack of experienced instruction and 10% of the students just quit. The university is set to open its doors in the fall. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for all parts of the world to be back to normal.

  9. Yasmin June 14, 2020
    Reply

    hey Dominic,
    i’m always looking forward to sunday because of your blog! it’s a lot of fun to read and i think you’re a great writer.
    i hope you and your family are safe and happy.

  10. Carla June 14, 2020
    Reply

    Always a pleasure to read your blogs!!
    I’m glad you did well (of course you would) haha!
    It’s sucks to have nothing to do, not being able to go anywhere… Cannot wait for things to get back to “normal” .
    Have a good day, lots of love! ❤️

  11. Pamela June 14, 2020
    Reply

    Your blogs are always a highlight of the week! Glad to hear your gig went well and you are slowly getting back to what you love to do, make us laugh!! I’ll be back to work in July for 3 weeks and off for 2 weeks and then hopefully back to the normal school year! I think everyone is craving for things to return to normal! Tom mentioned he’s back to work in July! I’m sure he’s excited!! I hope everyone is enjoying the summer weather! Best wishes to the fam!

  12. Beth June 15, 2020
    Reply

    So happy you were able to do another gig (even if it were small). I know what you mean by stretch! When I was almost 15 I did work experience at a hospital- was told not to handle any patients unless directed to. Unfortunately there was a patient who thought I was a real nurse…
    Once this is all over you should do a world tour I reckon (if feasible) we need more laughter in the world!

  13. Márcia Malaquias June 18, 2020
    Reply

    Congratulations Mr. Dom for the show nd the white shirt next time could fold the sleeve correctly because it looks weird 😉

    ❤️

  14. surily June 18, 2020
    Reply

    your blogs are the reason I started to write mine

  15. Silas June 18, 2020
    Reply

    Hey Dominic,

    I was thinking about your last blog post about hobbies an skills and I’ve had an idea. Do you play guitar? Are you interested in learning? If yes and yes, I want to teach you.

    For Free.

    For ever.

    I’ve taught my brother, and he’s doing really well. So, I think I’ll be able to teach you too. (I think Tom or Harry can play a bit so maybe you can already.) I won’t charge you anything ever. It’s just some friendly lessons and fat-chewing.

    I hope you are interested even if you don’t want to learn or are already playing. Contact me at my email, and we’ll set it up on Zoom or Skype (not the paid version though.)

    Cheers,

    Silas

  16. Regina June 21, 2020
    Reply

    Loved it! It’s so good to hear a success story in the midst of job losses and renewed stay at home orders (at least here in the US). Summer break officially started for the schools, but I and my fellow school teachers want it to be over and are actually looking forward to the next school year just so we can get back in the classrooms and teach again.

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