So, as of today I officially reside in London.
The practicalities of that are complicated. Firstly, I started renting a share in a flat in Putney today, but I haven’t actually collected the keys and my possessions won’t start migrating till this Sunday or all be there until the Sunday after. Secondly, at the moment I’m still renting another room, actually residing and working in an office part-time in Oxford. But this seems as good a time as any to blog about the move, not least because I hope to have more exciting things to blog about towards the middle of this month (like, you know, gigs).
So, the headlines:
- no more office job, for publisher that I’ve carefully avoided naming for contractual reasons. I’m going freelance in editorial work as well as music instead (sheet music and English as a foreign language materials among my specialisms); if you know anyone who needs copy-editing, proofreading, digital publication briefing and testing, etc. work needing doing at reasonable hourly rates, please do get them to drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org
- No more long-distance relationship! I’m getting to move in with the wonderful Stevie, whose occasional appearances in this blog do not do justice to her importance in my life; and (because you can’t live as a young couple in London these days unless at least 1.5 of you have sold your souls to Mammon) her colleague Stuart, Stuart’s partner Clinton and Stuart and Clinton’s two black cats Scampi and Coco (personally, I’m almost as excited about the cats as the girlfriend, but keep it under your hat).
- Much less time in coaches on the M40. A lot of my music work has already been in London or nearer to London than to Oxford, plus of course I’ve been maintaining said long-distance relationship, so I should get a lot of hours back for the rest of my life.
All very well, I hear you say, but I thought this was the blog of a professional musician. What is the relevance of this upheaval, this 50 miles’ exodus to the capital, for you as musician, since you are supposed to be writing in that capacity?
Well, multiple and at the same time not as great as might be supposed. It doesn’t mean an end to anything I’m currently doing; I’m still very much going to be active in the two bands I’m in, and available for freelance work. But I will generally have less travelling to do for both band and freelance concerts and rehearsals, on balance of probability. So that already means lower overheads, more availability. Very importantly, my non-music work being self-employed and fully flexible in hours means much more flexibility in timing of music work too – it becomes much more practical for me to take lunchtime recitals, daytime recording sessions, all-day rehearsals, etc., because I can do editing work at another point. Or even decline work that would sit across a particularly busy time musically.
Lower travel costs to earning music means higher profit margins. Means less money needed from editorial work, so the ability to spend less time doing it (besides the fact that freelancers in practice earn rather more per hour than in-house staff – interesting that). All of that means more time and effort available for music – not just paying work (and I fully intend to maximise the time by getting back into a busking habit – licences for Putney and for the Tube will be among the things I investigate when I’m actually resident in the new flat), but also technical practice, upping my game in technical terms and on paper. Wheels are in motion already to spend some time actively and directly studying classical viola, with a view to a performance diploma within the foreseeable future. And that might just be the most concrete aspect of a general truth that I will soon not be tethered by fixed hours, either in start and finish or sum total terms; if I can continue increasing the contribution of music to my personal economy as it has grown over the last couple of years (and it can only be to the good of my wellbeing to do so, for reasons that I won’t go into here), I will be at liberty to scale down my other paid exertions accordingly rather than trying to stretch my energy further.
So exciting times, for my music-making in particular and for my life in general. The phrase ‘end of an era’ has been used more than I expected in the context of me leaving Oxford and my desk job (perhaps we are a society given to the melodramatic); but I think it is more importantly the beginning of one. As they always say, watch this space …