14 March 2009

BUSKER ~ 1951 ~

ch 1951

Sketch by maman - moi at 15 years old, Englefield Green, Angleterre.

I don't remember being sketched - but mum never needed a still-sitting model -but I remember that noble guitar.

I'd been playing a battered 3rd-hand classical guitar with an action up to here and dropping forlorn hints that I really could do with something better. I assumed it had fallen on deaf lug 'oles but parents are sneaky, yeh?

I went out on an Exeat Sunday to a posh pal of the Ancients where we spent the night. When I went up to bed there on the bed was this guitar shape wrapped in brown paper and all sorts of Portuguese labels.

The make was Santos Beirão which I've never seen since and it played itself and the tone was rich and rabid and I stayed up all night and when I went back to that hell-hole I hid it in my trunk in the crypt and played it all the time.

I hid it because cruel prefect Warner also played the guitar and had ruled supreme until squit newbie me came along. If Warner had seen it, he'd've 'borrowed' it for his study or confiscated it, or something.

The music comp was coming up and Warner stood to lose his title as Guitar Hero.

Warner heard me playing odds and sods and knew from others that I was suspiciously good on the frets - but my crap guitar would keep me in my place and was no match for his Hofner classique.

I practised. I practised. I got new La Bella black nylon strings, I chose a flash piece well within my ability to ride my nerves. I polished it and I got the pegs glinting.

Come the evening I had a pal in the back row hold the Santos as I made to mount the stage with the wreck. Paused, looked down fondly at the old instrument and then shook my head with a smile as if to say, "Not tonight, mon ami. Tonight, I need something special."

Exchanged the guitars with my pal and walked up with the Santos - oohs and aahs and gasps.

Nor any of that tuning people go thru.

Foot rest down, adjustment of left-hand sleeve and - cue gig.

It was called "Gaucho" by Luise Walker and it had every trick to bamboozle a fancy London adjudicator.

Mr Santos sounded amazing. I sounded amazing. Every trick of hammer or claw, rasgueado, rubato, etouffé, whatever - came off.

God knows what Warner must have been thinking as I delivered my piece.

I don't think it ever sounded so good.

The adjudicator: "Next, the very fetching piece, "Gaucho." Now, here is a young man in love with his guitar - and from what we heard tonight, the feeling is clearly mutual."

Good times.

2 comments :

Sibadd said...

...a point rather proven - being in love with your guitar that is - by the fact you don't recall being sketched. You mama has captured your complete focus.

Busker said...

Typically shrewd comment from my favourite commentee.