There she was, where she’d always been- hanging above the piano at my parent’s house. Forgotten, yet poised proudly, on the wall of a family home. Year after year waiting patiently as classical books were packed away and new guitars were dreamed of and scrimped and saved for. No longer relevant to the fierce trajectory of youth.
Up and away we grow. Only from that vantage point do we hear where we’ve come from and see ourselves in reference to our ancestors and to our own short histories. 22 years on and I’ve taken her off the wall- the guitar I was given when I was 10 years old, my ‘new’ guitar.
I started Spanish guitar under the instruction of Patrick Gibson. Patrick had lost a finger in World War Two but that hadn’t stopped his career. Around his music room were photographs of him in his heyday performing in exquisite flamenco shirts, as well as handwritten practice mantras, carefully framed to preserve their wisdom. His wife Jean, shadowed by their Corgi, Muffin, would bring me a buttered crumpet then I’d wash my hands and begin the serious business of learning the guitar. Performance was an integral part of Patrick’s teaching and he’d take all his students to perform in local old people’s homes. I wasn’t a serious child but remember taking these concerts very seriously, knowing that performing music was something of great importance.
I don’t have many regrets (yet!) but not taking the time to pop in to thank Patrick, to tell him I was playing guitar on stages around the world, that it was something that had opened doors to adventures I couldn’t have dreamt of, and that he had really been a great teacher, is one of them. I’d drive past his house every time I was visiting my parents, yet I was always too busy to stop. He’d been as old as god when he was teaching and now my mum had seen an ambulance in the drive way, now the house was for sale. I followed whatever threads I could find but to no avail.
I’ve now had a pick-up put into my old guitar (she needs a name- any suggestions? Patricia?!), I’m writing new songs on her and she’s become a firm addition to my live set and to the next album. And I’ll try harder to remember to stop and pull over, to have a cup of tea with a buttered crumpet and say thanks.