Lisbon – Portugal, April 2020
I am a roadie……catering department. I have toured for 12 years supporting artists and crew, from tiny theatres all the way up to stadiums and festivals. Mainly the UK but also throughout Europe and the US. In recent years, I have been working nine months out of 12. My partner is Portuguese and Lisbon has been my base for three years. For me, my time at home has always been about relaxation, finding the time to do things that you don’t get much of on the road. Going to the beach, cinema, galleries, the gym………
I returned to Lisbon on February 2nd expecting a six-week break before my next two back-to-back tours, which would have kept me in work until early June. My partner and I had friends visiting for a couple of weeks not long after I returned. We did the things that friends do……barbecues on the balcony, trips to the beach, Lisbon city and Sintra. By mid-February we were listening with concern as one of our friends, who was about to embark on a European tour, started reporting that venues in Milan and other Italian cities were cancelling gigs. This trend continued with cities in other countries doing the same. In some cases, this was before the governments issued a limit on public gatherings. It seemed like this disease, which a couple of weeks earlier seemed so far away, was going to hit Europe like a tsunami, and in the process knock out the entire live event industry.
Five weeks later, Portugal is in its third week of a national state of emergency. The queues at the supermarket are orderly and respectful, there has not been any noticeable panic buying, although I’ve not seen any hand sanitiser for two months. We are allowed out to exercise, but at the weekends the police are out in force ensuring people are not leaving their own district and blocking all the main routes, particularly those heading towards the beach. I tend to run around the car park behind the apartment block, with a view of the roundabout and the occasional car, for exercise. Most days a policy car drives slowly through the neighbourhood with a loud speaker.
“FICA EM CASA”
“STAY AT HOME”
The underlying level of anxiety is always there, concerns for friends and family spread all over Europe and beyond, global and financial concerns. The concern that my industry will never recover. But…… in the midst of all that, we are finding the time and space for other pursuits. We have a WhatsApp group of caterers, quarantined all over Europe, daily trying to outdo one another with the food we are creating at home. The zoom room quizzes and bake off challenges, yoga, puzzles – buying one that is fifty shades of beige may have been a mistake though, rereading favourite books and taking a trip into 1980s films for nostalgia, This is the longest I’ve spent in one location in over a decade.
I’m writing this sitting on the balcony, the tree outside which was bare a few short weeks ago is blossoming. Soon I won’t be able to see the building opposite through the leaves. In this small, slow world that we are currently inhabiting, you start to notice every tiny little detail.
I hope that we will come out of the other side of this, that we will recover physically, emotionally and financially. But I also hope that we will have learned some valuable lessons.
Fica em casa……..Fica bem