When I was talking to Chaka Khan a month or so back she said, "artists are the dreamers of society. Without us, it would be a pretty flat place to be. And very dull indeed."
It was a great quote and she delivered it with such sparkle that it instantly struck me. I've found myself thinking about it a lot this week.
You may remember that back in March the whole country retreated indoors to starve off a deadly pandemic. Covid-19 is so contagious that containment and control were not options. Unless, of course, you were morbidly keen on thinning out our population at an alarming rate. Which, mind-bogglingly, some numbskulls apparently were.
There were early and wrong calls to open shops, borders and our front doors. People rallied against wearing masks claiming personal liberty was being stripped which, if you count the personal liberty of not getting deadly sick then, sure, yeah, I suppose it was.
While the rest of the world celebrated and envied New Zealand's quick strike approach to wiping out covid, the foolishly misguided opponents of our science and fact based preventative measures held up Sweden as a shining example of how we should do things.
Sweden's approach was basically live your life, hope for the best and chase the golden goose of "herd immunity".
That just sounds recklessly foolish to me but hey, I'm not a scientist, doctor, radio host or political commentator so what do I know?
In late August a news article in this very paper ran with the reassuring headline, 'Covid 19 coronavirus: Sweden records its highest death toll in 150 years'. Jeepers.
Reading further you learn that, "the virus has already killed more than 5800 people, giving Sweden one of the world's highest per capita mortality rates." Yikes.
When I checked this morning we'd lost a total of 25 souls. Which really should be the last we hear of this Sweden malarkey. The only way to stamp out covid at this pre-vaccine stage of the game is to starve it. Which is what we've done. Twice now.
Yes, it's come at great cost. Many people lost their businesses, their incomes and their jobs. I don't say this tritely; I almost lost my job. Many friends did.
That lockdown period was a stressful, slightly frightening time. Empty streets with grinning teddy bears in windows and paranoia over who might be carrying the virus. It was surreal and straight out of a horror movie.
In those early weeks I was tasked with writing many entertainment features about all the music, movies, TV, podcasts and video games to catch up on now that we all had a month of "free time" on our hands.
In reality very few people had any "free time" to do anything other than figure out how to work from home, keep their children from bouncing off the walls, and/or sit there nervously fretting about the future.
But 'free time' was a reassuring lie we all bought into because what was the alternative? Losing it completely? No. Best to keep calm and carry on and spend a few minutes escaping into a short list of The Five Best NZ Albums of 2020 You've Missed.
While this was all happening the government did a pretty good job at keeping people and business financially afloat. Was it perfect? No. Could it have been better? Probably. Could it have been worse? Most definitely.
But for the most part those who needed financial assistance then, and those who still do now, received something. We may not agree with who got what or why or for what, but that's not for us to decide. A hundred people would have a hundred different opinions. The people in charge of distributing the various covid-relief money know what they're doing.
It may not seem like they do. It might sound crazy to fund the bands, writers, artists, DJs or comedians who can't go out and earn a living right now, but that's only because their work doesn't hold any personal significance or importance to you. And you, friend, are not the center of the universe.
Sorry to break it to you like that. Our life view is blinkered by circumstances and experiences. You and the people around you may not enjoy or get anything from a particular work, but many of your fellow country folk do. Just because you're not part of an audience doesn't mean there isn't one.
Hey, I get it. Appreciation for art is ephemeral in the way a new road isn't. However during lockdown those entertainment features proved incredibly popular.
When the world was turning into a nightmare the world turned to the dreamers to help get them through. We're lucky to have them. We need them. Because without them it would be a pretty flat place to be. And very dull indeed.