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Lockdown life in London: musician yearning for Moray roots


By Chris Saunderson

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With the latest lockdown in London and Covid running rampant through much of the capital, Moray has never looked so appealing.

Malcolm Macwatt.
Malcolm Macwatt.

This situation, together with the likelihood of more global pandemics happening in the future, has changed how I feel about London life and over the last 12 months I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet looking at houses for sale in Scotland.

I understand why the pandemic has spread so quickly here; London is a huge sprawling city that can be difficult to get around at the best of times. It relies on public transport to keep moving and so many people need to work in order to keep the infrastructure going.

My wife Gillian, is a schoolteacher and is managing her class online. Her school was coping with the pandemic through class bubbles but the recent wave saw a noticeable increase in the number of children and staff testing positive. Luckily she has consistently tested negative but you can’t help feeling anxious. All schools are closed now but she is busier than ever working to ensure her kids get effective teaching online.

Both of my children, Jamie (24) and Beth (22) are civil servants in Whitehall, however, they have been able to work from home through most of the pandemic.

As a parent, it’s always a worry when your kids are working in a part of London that has already experienced terrorist violence, and there’s the added threat of catching Covid using public transport, so it’s reassuring to have them at home everyday. They may feel differently having me on their case everyday!

Malcolm has carved out a full-time career in London.
Malcolm has carved out a full-time career in London.

For me as a musician, putting global tragedy and loss to one side, lockdown has been a positive experience. It was awful to see all of my live shows being cancelled one-by-one as venues closed their doors but it gave me the time to focus on writing and recording new songs.

If it hadn’t been for lockdown I wouldn’t have produced my last EP ‘Skail’ entirely from home which brought me to the attention of boutique American label ‘Need To Know Music’ who are releasing my next album ‘Settler’ in April this year.

So far they have brought in up-and-coming Nashville artist Jaimee Harris to sing on the album with a few more names in the pipeline, which is fantastic for an unknown independent like me to get that level of support. So I’m a big believer in the idea of clouds and silver linings.

However, with the virus so prevalent in London it means being super careful when shopping for essentials so I always wear the masks made for me by Elgin friend Yvonne Adams. I’m hoping as soon as lockdown ends and Scotland is safely open to visitors again I’ll be straight up to Moray to take some promotional videos and photographs for the new album and catch up with friends and family, maybe even play a wee gig somewhere.


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