Thursday, January 04, 2007


I often recount the story of how, during the easter holiday of 2002, I set a new fastest time in 1080 snowboarding*, a time that beat all previous records, a time good enough to send into a magazine if I was so inclined - a time, in short, which required a great deal of practice and perseverance to achieve. This was at a stage when I was at a fairly low ebb mentally, generally feeling all fat and emo, and this achievement made me feel good, 'what!' I claim I said to myself, 'could I do if I applied this perseverance and concentration to something worthwhile, like playing an instrument!' The very next day, as the story goes, I took my dad's bass out of its case and started to learn to play a couple of really simple songs.

This is, insofar as I can be sure about anything with my rather easily altered memory, an accurate retelling of the events and thoughts of this time.

What I refrain from mentioning, however, is that this was not my first flirtation with music. Around 6 weeks previous to the day when I started playing the bass I reached a similar epiphany and resolved to learn to play the guitar. I picked up one of the many guitars that were lying around in my house and started to play.

After a day or two of atonal musical ineptitude I gave up.

Like so many others I concluded that my hands were too big, or too fat, or too clumsy, and stopped playing at that stage; deciding that I just wasn't cut out for that sort of thing, destined instead for a career as a mediocre tambourine player. Many months later, when I realised that I was really quite good at playing the bass - perhaps even talented to some degree - the attempt at playing the guitar got shoved into the embarassing episodes folder of my mind**.

The main reason for this was that a lot of guitarists look down on bass players, they see them as simple people, people who can't manage all six strings, and I was already worried that my lack of experience would prevent anyone from taking me seriously. Afriad of admitting to having tried to play the guitar and given up, I started telling other people and, in time, myself, that I'd never tried to play the guitar, feigning disinterest in the hope that people wouldn't assume I was just a rubbish guitarist who'd moved to something simpler.

That isn't to say that I was, though. Not exactly anyway. The opening stages of learning to play the bass are much easier than learning to play the guitar - whilst there are the bruised fingers, blisters and bad rhythm to put up with, there isn't the horror of dischords, or the pain of trying to mangle your fingers into the various chord positions - This meant that I wasn't discouraged that time. To an extent my feigned disinterest was real, I have no desire whatsoever to play the electric guitar, they bore me, but my growing interest in jazz and folk has made me interested in playing the guitar, what with the absence of funky bass solos in folk music.

Anyway, to get to the point, due to various circumstances I have recently come into possession of what is, after a couple of serious modifications, quite a nice acoustic guitar. I've started playing it and I'm hoping that I'm not going to suck as badly as I thought I would the first time I tried.

If I do, then I'll probably delete this post and go back to feigning disinterest. If I don't then I think I'll learn to play to a reasonable degree then move on to something else, the banjo or the mandolin perhaps.

Sorry if this post isn't hugely coherent, I can't use my copy of word because I changed my CD drive and it has become convinced that it's being stolen or something and won't let me use it. Also I'm listening to brand nubian and dancing around like a nerdy cracker who knows no-one is watchingm, which tends to distract me.


*A game, in case you hadn't guessed.

**it's very big, and bulging.