Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Britain’s Got Talent - Part One: Twang!




I’m certainly not a maestro. In fact I’m just a balding old git who’s trying to learn an instrument. Oh, I take it seriously, but I know I started late in life and I’ll never play at the Proms.

Music isn’t in my blood or in my nurture; my paternal grandfather played the electric organ (a difficult instrument to make sound musical at the best of times) and my mother played the kazoo after a few too many glasses of wine at Christmas.

Not much to aspire to.

As a teenager I conformed to rebellion and took up the guitar knowing I’d become a rock star someday.

I even learned a few bits and pieces from a succession of teachers.

Meanwhile I had a ‘friend’ whose dad had bought him an electric guitar, hard case, amplifier, leads, plectrums, everything in fact, bar tuition. Not that that was ever a problem to Alf.

One day I was summoned to his house for a ‘jamming session’. A group of kids our age were hanging around outside, so Alf selflessly opened the window to share his ‘talent’ with them. He then proceeded to strike high pitched notes in a random order. He was a ‘lead guitarist’ now, and proved the point by the amount of decibels he could produce.

He yelled through the wall of sound, “Look at them all staring,” he nodded towards our long suffering (and probably more musical) counterparts out in the street.

They were indeed staring, and in so doing they fuelled Alf’s delusion that he was an Axe Man, nay, The Axe Man!

When his dad came upstairs I assumed his visit was to lower the volume. Alas no, he seemed so proud of his boy’s ‘achievements’ and challenged me to play something.

With Alf standing one side of me, and his dad, Big Alf, the other, I waited for the ringing in my ear to subside and tuned my acoustic guitar (an alien concept in this household it seemed). Like Little Alf I couldn’t play a ‘lick’ or a ‘riff’ yet. Unlike him though, I knew it.

“When the Saints Come Marching In” wasn’t the trendiest thing to play I know, but it did have some semblance to music.

Big Alf and Little Alf’s eyes met and they smirked at each other. I was clearly disadvantaged by not being completely tone deaf.

I soon found myself among the crowd outside, joining them in looking up, open mouthed, at the sounds that emanated from that window.  

I have no idea what happened to Alf, but I went on to gigging and recording, and our group even got a rave review in the local rag. But unlike lesser guitarists (Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, and the like), I recognized when the time had come to walk away with dignity (and rather less money).

It takes a few years to get used to not being a teenager anymore. They laughingly called us ‘young adults’ when we were anything but. And by your third decade you obviously haven’t reached your mid-life crisis yet, but you start preparing for it and hanker after sports cars and motorbikes. In my case, I bought myself a cello . . .


Written and conceived by M J Race

Copyright © 2015 M J Race


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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.