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  • Writer's pictureSarah Caltieri

The Coronavirus Diaries (March-Dec 2020)

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

I look back at these past eight months and feel almost like I’ve been in a film (without being paid). It almost doesn’t seem real getting packed off on an empty train from King’s Cross Station, London whilst in the middle of a music contract, an acting contract and a home move! (All of which had to be cancelled). I think the empty underground tube stations were very surreal and before I left to go to Leeds temporarily, I walked down by the river at the South Bank near the Tate and it was so eerily empty, no people. No people at Kings Cross station. (Sung “we’ll Meet Again to a friend down the phone unaware that the Pret staff were listening and they all applauded. Sadly, Vera Lynn passed away months later).

Being in between homes and leaving all my possessions in storage seemed to work out well as after developing Covid a week after I left and spending energy getting through it meant not worrying about possessions. I took a temporary place up north until I recovered and the chaos had calmed down. At one point though, my breathing was so bad and my lungs so battered from the dry coughing, I thought my 3rd round of 9 lives were finally up. Thank God they weren’t though as I’ve not finished on earth yet...

Never thought I’d witness in my lifetime anything like the toilet roll panic, empty streets and queues and queues of sad faces outside shops because everybody was having to be socially distanced from each other inside. It’s funny, there has been so much devastation in the world but at the same time so much love and kindness between people has come from all the destruction. Including the beacon of light Captain Tom, the amazing and inspirational war veteran who inspired the nation by doing 100 laps up and down his garden before his 100th birthday to raise a few thousand pounds for the NHS, but he actually raised almost £33 mill.

At the moment, there are hundreds of lorry drivers stuck trying to get over the border to France but are not allowed in. I think about the challenging time it’s been being locked up in one place, isolated from most friends, swamped constantly in online administration work (because that’s the music and performing industry nowadays and not just about the art anymore) and having to deal with inaccessible companies all the time. These companies just do not take partially sighted and blind people‘s needs into consideration let alone dyslexics or elderly people who cannot use the systems. I do think about the lorry drivers who have it so tough being trapped. I want to take a busking amp, jump on a train and go and sing to them all in the open air. It could be classed as work right? It is work… Of course, artists, singers, musicians' financial needs have not been taken into consideration as most are self-employed, have lost all our physical work and there has been no furlough schemes or financial assistance other than Universal Credit for most people in the entertainment world. I understand there are more important things to deal with however, in times of crisis most people turn to entertainment to keep us mentally sane. Without this, what would anybody do for entertainment? Netflix… Spotify… The list is endless.

Although I’m mindful of the people, keeping my distance and keeping healthy knowing when my own body is okay. Eventually, I had to stop tuning out of the news because it’s difficult enough as it is, never mind having to watch all the terrible things that are happening constantly every single day. If I’m completely honest, I tuned out a lot of the news when I lost a lot of my “physical vision“ because it only showed one side of the world I found, not the full picture. There are so many amazing and good things happening as well as all bad and something that seems to have occurred to me during this whole “pandemic“ is that so many people have pulled together. If it wasn't for charitable arts organisations understanding the importance of music and performance and offering grants to those of us unsupported by government regimes, I think I might have gone under this time after coming out of seven of the most challenging years of my entire life. I feel right now is for letting the past go completely, learning from everything and rebuilding stronger and better everything.

Ironically during the lockdown I’ve realised just how much a lot of negativity towards me has affected me eg. being randomly grabbed constantly on the street by people who seem to think bat people constantly need assistance without realising the dangers of making presumptions (I believe this is how I was given Covid as after the socially distanced warning went out, I was grabbed 3 times by complete strangers). I’ve realised just how mentally damaging, weakening and the toll it’s taken on my life over the years. My life is not a “tragedy“ but a beautiful fulfilling gift which I treasure. It is very damaging of people to presume they are worth nothing because of lack of sight. This is a total misconception and VERY insulting.

In fact, zoom has saved my life. I’ve done so many amazing things online such as dancing with thousands of other people at Tony Robbins first ever streamed UPW virtual event. Meeting and working with songwriters from all over the place, joining thousands of other people in other mind growth programmes across the world. Meeting new people on other people’s zoom parties. It is unbelievable that despite the tragedy, so many gifts have come from it and most of all, I feel like I have been re-ignited and re-inspired to speak up about the oppression I have faced for most of my entire partially sighted life and to actually sing again and create.

This year has been a great year for me evaluating and actually ironically, being stuck between cities with all my possessions in storage has been the best thing ever! At least they were all protected from Covid. I’ve enjoyed being a complete minimalist. It’s inspired me to clear out a lot more possessions I don’t need which has become quite addictive and now I seem to have the opposite of kleptomania is this normal? I don’t know… If I’m honest although I don’t really care either.

It has been difficult having to watch my mum suffer as for the past several years before Covid broke out, she has been watching my grandma suffer with dementia. Last year she took retirement from her job as a pianist, musical director, producer, teacher and accompanist. She did not work her entire life to spend her retirement locked up like a prisoner and it is heartbreaking. She has taught many many people over the years and has given so much to so many people who have gone on to do great things because of her teachings. It just seems unfair and makes me feel so angry that she’s not had the freedom to spend the first year of her retirement doing her own thing. It’s all made me feel so sad for other people in her age range as I have also seen them struggling to adapt to the ‘technological era’.

I actually listened to some of my song lyrics the other day “past has gone, this moment’s here, future’s not arrived, so what's to fear?” Who knows what the future holds? I just know one thing these challenging times have reiterated this year and that is the importance of the strength of the human spirit and special human connections.

12 February 2021

(Bat audio: In this blog post there are 5 lots of images.

The first image is a trilogy of Sarah in different outfits whilst performing. In all 3 pictures she has blonde shoulder length hair intertwined with red streaks and red hot lipstick. The first outfit Sarah is wearing a grey sailor type peak hat with a matching grey blazer and white button-up shirt and has on a red heart-shaped eye patch on and she looks like she cracking a joke whilst talking into the microphone . The second outfit Sarah looks like she's just stepped off the red carpet and is wearing a gorgeous figure hugging gold glitter dress with vertical lines going down the dress sectioned off by horizontal diamond stripe patterns. She has her head turned to the right with her chin up in the air with a sort of half smile. Only the strap of her eye patch which covers her right eye is slightly visible. The last image show Sarah in mid song holding a microphone wearing a plunge neck black suit and has a crystal eye-patch over her right eye in the shape of a butterfly with jewels hanging down from it.

After a paragraph of text we can see the second lot of 4 images. The top 2 images are of South Bank overlooking the River Thames on the left-hand side with eerily empty walkways.

The third image is of a very desolated Kings Cross Station with purple lit ceilings and 2 pillars of advert screens are visible. The 4th picture in this grid is of Sarah sitting on a train looking quite sombre wearing bright pink/redish lipstick in a black fully zipped up coat donned with a stylish, black beret and a silver circular patterned eye patch on her right eye.

The next lot of images, on the left we see a white toilet roll slightly unrolled resting on what looks like a dark, grey carpet and on the second piece of the roll is an imprint of Sarah's red lipstick . In the image next to this is a cartoon drawing of Sir Captain Tom Moore leaning his left hand on his walker with his cane wrapped around the other end of the walker, his right hand in the air giving a thumbs up whilst wearing his blue veteran jacket with all his medals pinned on the left pocket of his jacket, head down with his spectacles on. What a great man!

Two more paragraphs down the next lot of images are on the left, on a green background, paper planes flying with text to the right half cut off saying What's Your wish after Covid-19 and underneath this a speech bubble with #HTBwishchallenge. To the right of this is an image of Sarah's hand holding a white paper plane facing the window where you can see outside onto the road, a curved green bush and a few houses.

The last lot of images are a set of 3. The first one shows the cover image of Higher Than Before (typed on the right hand side)and underneath this is Sarah Caltieri, then to the left of this is the back end of a white aeroplane showing a red tail and wing and this is all on the background showing the sky with a few clouds and the sea underneath. The song is being played and is 8 seconds in of the 4 minute long track. The final image underneath the previous 2 is of a beautifully lit heart with little bauble type lights draped all around it hanging in front of a white textured wall.)

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