We are the COVID children…

When celebrating New Years eve on the 31st of December 2019 I did not envisage the apocalyptic year ahead. In fact after the amazing 2019 I had I was ready to hit the ground running and continue kicking ass.

Little did I know, 2020 would reign fire and brimstone upon us all in epic fashion. So much has happened whilst we have all been preoccupied fighting a global pandemic. I thought it might be nice to recap the madness. So that future me can hopefully remember the world survived this.

The Alarming Arkane Almanac of 2020

Between Australian bush fires and Trump almost leading the U.S into a Third World War. Harry and Meg(xit), a failed presidential impeachment and Brexit officially gets the go ahead. A guilty verdict for Harvey Weinstein (there is some justice in this year after all!).

Tiger-King becomes the perfect lockdown accompaniment for the world and their mother in isolation (if you haven’t, you really should). We all thought Kim-Jong-Un had died. Thankfully he is alive and well (2020 is really the year that keeps on giving). This one seriously took the biscuit – possible UFO’s sighted by non other than the Pentagon (THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE). Murder hornets which people can actually die from (why do you think they’re called murder hornets PEOPLE). George Floyd prompted global protests. Forcing society to have deep and meaningful debates on solving worldwide racial issues.

Finally, (I say finally, but who knows what will happen next – please be Power Rangers, please be Power Rangers). We are only in July and the Eastern World appears to be fighting the entire world – with words.

I don’t know about you but some days I just think, is it time to get off this ride yet? Whoever wished for some excitement in the world needs to be taken out and given a serious talking to.

For every Ying there is some good

For all the bad in this world, 2020 has showered upon us some real positive things too. The world has been given time to heal! (Albeit three months). In that time we have witnessed reduced pollution in both the air and sea. We have been given the opportunity to spend time with family. Children and parents that rarely see each other are not spending quality time together. And children have been encouraged when they can to get outdoors and play.

The pandemic has been devastating in more ways than we can quantify right now. But it is also responsible for a biggest reset. One that our world has been crying out for.

The New Normal

As we continue this ride in 2020 it appears that the pandemic is not defeated yet nor will it be. It’s here to stay whether we like it or not.

Rules are relaxing and even though everyday I am worried about contracting this virus, being asthmatic worries me about my chances with a respiratory illness, I am glad to see things get back to some form of normal. We all desperately need it too for both our mental and physical wellbeing.

Speaking of normal, I was asked the first weekend in July to perform at a 6th birthday party. I was petrified of saying yes to the enquiry when it came in. And I didn’t know what to do. But here are some of the things that I discovered, upon taking and performing at the event. You might find some of this useful.

Before the party

I realised that if I were to attend an event where the customer was not a responsible person. I.e I was told that the party would unfold one way and then upon arrival it wasn’t anything like the original agreement.

If this occured then my safety and their safety would be at risk. So it was quiet clear that I had to have a conversation with the customer on the phone.

This is a weird realisation. For the last three years all my bookings have mostly been done over email or my FizzWizzPop Facebook page.

I realised that I cannot gauge the seriousness of the customer through text alone. So I think right now, a phone call is necessary for you to reassure the customer and vice versa. Also this gives you a verbal contract. For example…

If both parties agree that the show will take place outside, with group numbers below 10 and they will be monitored by adults to make sure social distancing is in practice.

However when you turn up they want it indoors, there are 30 kids and no adults are present, then you have the right to refuse to do the show because of safety. And it’s not what was agreed originally.

Not every customer will do this, but it’s nice in these times to get to know who you will be working with.

Announce your arrival

Upon arrival, I messaged the customer. Lettting them know I was outside so that she could open the garden gate and prepare the space for my arrival. I think with the current situation it’s good practice, rather than just prancing on in.

Personal Protection also protects others

I decided to wear both a viser and surgical gloves (I got red ones for FizzWizzPop). The viser I picked is put on like a pair of glasses I thought that the elastic band ones might

  1. Hurt after long periods of wear.
  2. Potentially the elastic might spring off, snap or indeed might be too tight and have little or no movement.

When I originally thought about protecting myself, I knew that a mouth mask was not an option. Speaking is a big part of my show so anything that would muffle my speech was a no no.

Science has clarified that the virus spreads by liquid droplets that hang in the air. That’s when I began to investigate a full face cover. Allowing me to both see and talk. Hence the viser was purchased.

Here is a little video after performing my very first show and how glad I was to be wearing P.P.E.


The Aftermath

I realised as soon as I got home even though the show was done my day was not finished. To keep protecting myself and equipment I would have to put in place a cleaning regime for costume and props.

  1. When I got to my car I had plastic bags in my boot. One for my gloves and one for the viser. The gloves were disposed off and the viser steeped in hot soapy water when I got back home.
  2. I left my magic show case and it’s contents in my boot for 72 hours. Making sure that if any surface was touched by the virus it would be gone. After this time I brought the case in and wiped down everything with alcohol wipes. Cleaned the sponge balls with hot water and some gentle soap. The brand Pear soap is great for soft washing items like brushes etc. And it has an antibacterial product in it – thank you Kathryn Craig for this excellent advice).
  3. Immediately I took off my costume and popped it into an empty wash basket. I realised that I would have to wash it myself because my mum is immune compromised. For that reason I didn’t want her or my dad to make any contact with it. So I waited until the machine was clean and I put it on a high temp wash.

Some thoughts and ideas to make cleaning for shows streamlined.

After performing this show, which was amazing. I realised now there are so many more processes to complete for safety with COVID. Doing more than one show in a day simply may not be able to happen for a long time.

There are things to consider making the job easier and your own conscious lighter. Just knowing you are actively trying to make your job and the environment safe for your audience will help.

  1. Having a secondary case so you are not using the same props in the next show you perform.
  2. If you have two shows a day. (Though personally I will not be doing this for some time). Think about timing shows so you can wash and change into a secondary costume before the next event. Everything then, including yourself is squeaky clean.
  3. Nothing is guaranteed so only take on work if you feel you are safe to do so. Think of contact. Keep numbers small, family groups are best (the home bubbles). If anything were to happen everyone in the group is contactable. We should not rely on governments and apps for this, but take responsibility ourselves.
  4. Contact your insurers to see what they actually insure you to do at this time. I am currently with Equity. So far they have confirmed we can perform outside for up to 30 people max socially distanced. I am actively only doing shows now for numbers much lower than this. It is what I feel is comfortable and can manage.
  5. Have a hand sanitiser pump somewhere you can see when you are performing. Visually if you see it you will use it. Try to do this before and after each trick, effect, working with a child. I think it’s more important that you as the performer does this, rather than insisting the kids do. We want them to enjoy the show, and adding little processes like this is not fun. If they wash their hands prior to the show, that will be enough. I feel it’s up to me then to sanitise throughout and my kit/costume after the show.

I wish you all the best in getting your businesses up and running again safely!

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