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In the beginning, when this all started, some people said that wearing a face mask will become like wearing a seatbelt was decades ago : after a while it will become so normal that nobody talks about it anymore and everybody just wears it.

It couldn’t be more true! Even though I occasionally still forget putting it on, when I stand up from my seat in a restaurant for example, or when I leave a parking lot… but I easily stand corrected when I see ‘the others’ with masks staring at me.

So we grab our mask and are off to Ghent to see a classical music concert by Collegium Vocale. It’s my first concert in more than half a year. Not because there weren’t any, but more because I am always too late in buying tickets, and even this time it’s thanks to my friend that I am here : she always manages to get tickets everywhere.

We wait in line in front of the church, in little groups of 2 or 4, under an umbrella. After almost half a year of dry weather, the gods have decided to finally give us some rain. Nobody dares to complain. Rain was desperately needed and umbrellas do a good job.

The seats are numbered but we are brought inside by stewards on a first come first sit basis. Filling up the 2×2 chairs, with a safe 1m space between you and the next 2 chairs.

Philippe Herreweghe, the conductor, gives us some explanation of what is expected. We should read the lyrics on the page provided on our chair, next to the little bottle of disinfectant gel. Otherwise the concert will be ‘just a series of beautiful sounds’, he says.

The music starts. My barok German is a bit rusty, so I grab my phone and pass the text through google translate. Sin, Satan, ‘I disgust to live more so take me’, and other heavy and depressing words. So I close my eyes and shut of my brain, and let the ‘just great sounds’ enter my soul.

Whenever I hear Alex Potter sing, he gives me the shivers. With his divine voice he sounds as if he descended from heaven, so I’d rather forget he is now singing about hell. Sitting there in our 2×2 chairs, with face masks on, really feels like heaven and for now, sins do not bother me at all.

When it ends, after the applause dies down, we are again escorted outside into the rain, this time on a last come first leave basis.

We walk to a restaurant where we take a seat outside, after first moving the table and chairs around so we all sit under the sunroof that now protects us from the rain. The gas heaters keep us warm.

The food is delicious, as well as the wine and the beer, and we have a fun chat with our friends. Discussing all kinds of topics except corona, the new government ; even Trump isn’t mentioned! And then one says : ”Don’t you agree that everything feels pretty normal?”.

After just a short moment of silence, we all agree, he is right. However bad the news might be, no matter how much (some) people complain, no matter the economy and the numbers of infected, however gloomy some people are : life does feel pretty much like normal.

On this good note, without giving each other a goodbye hug, with our face masks on, we walk back to the car and drive home. We are ready for yet another normal weekend.

Festival van Vlaanderen, Collegium Vocale, Bach, cantate widerstehe doch der Sünde BWV54, cantate Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV21 Sinfonia, cantate Vergnügte Ruh BWV170, sung by Alex Potter Contratenor. Sint Jacobskerk Ghent.

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