Home > Chapters > 2 – What Not To Say To Guitar Playing Demigods

2 – What Not To Say To Guitar Playing Demigods

Guildford was a bustling cathedral city, still licking its wounds and recovering from the horror of the previous October when we moved there. Our new home had the curious address of Flat 8, The TA Centre, Woodbridge Road. There were two blocks of four flats, two up and two down, in an L shape with a small area of greenery in the centre. The four bottom flats had back gardens. Us loftier souls in the top flats, had the views. Behind our block of flats was a large car sales plot, with the busy A3 main road just beyond that.. Behind the other block was an overgrown football pitch and derelict spectator stands. To the right of our little enclave, and separating us from Woodbridge Road itself, was the actual TA Centre, which was no more than a few old Nissan huts and a wooden office with the nose of an aircraft protruding from one end. And to the fore was a large building site that would eventually become some new houses and a working men’s club. We were evidently not in paradise.

Being so secluded from the Guildford hubbub, the only social interaction to be had apart from school, was with the other residents. I was fairly lucky in that respect as there were two lads who were around the same age as me, so it was convenient to knock around with them.

All the circumstances were in conjunction, and the strange forces that were in control of my conditioning had found the on switch of my cognitive mechanism. Music began to follow me…
Perhaps one of the first inklings I had in this new existence was in the form of a letter from a friend in Cheltenham. Simon and I were friends for the short time I’d lived there and gone to school with him. Our friendship was cruelly torn asunder when I moved to Guildford but we kept in touch, for a short while anyway. He even came to visit once, but it wasn’t the same and the pen-pal friendship soon fizzled out. But I digress. In one of his letters to me he mentioned strange unheard of things. He spoke of his record collection, albeit a small one, and the ones he intended to buy soon. He spoke of Queen. A Night At The Opera. Sheer Heart Attack. I was totally bemused and ignorant as I didn’t have a clue what he was on about. I was still under parental influence. Nana Miskouri, Demis Roussos, Cliff Richard, Sound of Music, South Pacific to name a few of the groovy sounds that my ears had suffered throughout my childhood. As mentioned previously, my first conscious record buying decision resulted in my ownership of a 50’s and 60’s Rock and Roll compilation album.  I was armed and ready.

Using my skills of introspective retrospection I have identified a defining moment from this period in the wilderness. My friend Cliff who lived in Flat 2, which was diagonally opposite ours, had an older sister who’s name escapes me. I don’t remember seeing her around very much but on this one occasion she was at home, with her boyfriend. And he had a guitar! I was quite awestruck. This was only my second close up encounter with a guitar playing demigod and here I was in his presence while he played.  Don’t ask me what he actually played up until the point he spoke to me as I really don’t recall. All I know is he was really good and for all I know he went on to become Rick Parfitt or Brian May because I never saw him again. Although come to think of it, Mr. Parfitt did wave at me a few years later, but that’s another story.

When the maestro finished strumming he had to push back his long hair which had fallen over his face whilst playing. That done he looked over at me and asked me the sixty-four million dollar question What do you want me to play?

Me! He was asking me! Me, whose comfort zone included people with unpronounceable names in large dresses and whimsical costumed actors that sang instead of speaking. In desperation I hedged my bets and plumped for the most popular thing I knew at the time. It had to be popular, he had to know it because the whole of Europe loved them.

I uttered the words that will haunt me till my dying day Do you know any Abba?

He laughed and laughed.

Any hope I might have had was fading fast.

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The two sketches shown are my own work, drawn for school homework which I still have from all those years ago. The originals are actually just pencil drawings but thanks to the wonders of modern technology you see them in a totally different light. But they are very true depiction of what our surroundings were like. Out of curiosity I googled the address and studied the satellite images of the area we lived at and it appears to have been totally demolished and replaced with nice new houses.

Categories: Chapters
  1. May 9, 2011 at 02:47

    ABBA?! Oh no. You’ve come a long way, my friend. I hate that your piece of paradise was torn down. Who can say they had a view looking out on the nose end of an airplane?

    • May 9, 2011 at 16:19

      Well thanks for finding something positive about my depressive surroundings 🙂 They really were as dreary as I describe.
      And thanks for stopping by and commenting.. I might have to give you an award of some sort for being first 🙂

  2. May 9, 2011 at 23:55

    These first two pieces are really great, and I really love the addition of your artwork. Makes me wish that I had similar doodles from my school days.

    I know this is of no surprise to you, but these are the kinds of stories I gravitate toward: Not necessarily stories about music, but stories about people. I’m getting a strong sense of time and place, and I’m really enjoying that. Growing up as a music obsessed kid in the US, there were two places that seemed liked the Emerald City of OZ to me: California and the UK. I managed to find my way to the former, and thanks to you I’m getting an insider’s view of the latter.

    It’s probably hard to believe, but references to Eurovision and Rick Parfitt are lost on your average non-music-nerd American, so touches like that give your story a point of view that is both unique and at the same time very universal. And that’s one of the many reasons that music matters – we each have our own experience, but collectively as listeners, performers, writers, etc. we share in something that connects us.

    • May 10, 2011 at 15:09

      Thanks for your comment…it’s really appreciated! It’s something I’ve always been meaning to do and after visiting yours I was finally inspired to do something about it. Unfortunately I don’t have any more artwork like that so make the most of what you see 🙂 I may have to revert to scanning in old programs or ticket stubs.
      And as I write this, what comes on the radio but I Was Made For Lovin’ You….of all their good stuff, why that one?! 🙂

  3. May 9, 2011 at 23:58

    BTW: Would love to add you to my blogroll and maybe even give your new blog a special shout out if your up for that.

  4. Steve
    May 11, 2011 at 10:37

    I wasn’t really big into music as a kid and I guess in many I still am not, I do like lots of music however it’s just never been a massive thing, I do remember as a kid that I had a bunch of 7” singles, including Suzi Quatro and MUD (amongst others).

    • May 11, 2011 at 15:42

      I used to love Suzie Q. Devilgate Drive and Can The Can were just great! But MUD were a different kettle of fish… Tiger Feet was ok for the first few listens but after that I got a bit fed up with it 🙂
      Thanks for dropping by anyway 🙂

  5. midaevalmaiden
    May 14, 2011 at 16:34

    I really like that tree in the second drawing. If I had lived there I would have spent all my time on that roof.
    I imagine you must have been able to hear real church bells ringing off the hours? I love that kind of atmosphere.

    • May 14, 2011 at 21:04

      I don’t recall hearing church bells. We weren’t too far from the cathedral so I might have heard those bells from time to time.
      I did spend a fair bit of time up on the roof of the nissan huts..we found an easy way up there and it was easy access into the actual compound which was mostly devoid of life. The tree was just a tall trunk with no branches 🙂

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