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Malfunction. No Target Aquired.


Now that August bank holiday has past, I am reviewing the past year critically. A lot of what has happened since is connected to the hole in my life that opened up when my partner Jan died on August bank holiday 2014.


My employer sent me home on 2 weeks compassionate leave, during which time I helped clear Jan’s flat of all her possessions. I did this together with her son Ian and her friends Pam & Lorna.


I spent ages taking her stuff to charity shops and to the tip. When the funeral was over and the flat emptied I returned home and started all over again. I got rid of a lot of stuff from my house. My mind was somehow preoccupied with this. I couldn’t think of any other way to spend the time I had on my hands. So back and forth to the tip I went. I was almost on first name terms with the totters there. But I got rid of a lot of stuff I didn’t need.


I had a lot of work done modernising the house. Central heating installed last year, and a bathroom suite fitted this year. It was done while I was on holiday in the Mediterranean during August 2015. The bathroom still needs some remedial work to finish it.


Music: Weirdly my music took an odd turn. I have never been a collector of guitars. In 44 years I had only bought 9 guitars. Of those I still had 7. Of the 7, I only really used 5.


Since December 2014 I have bought 5 more guitars (and sold only one in the same period). Do I need these guitars? Of course not. I only need 4: An acoustic, a Spanish acoustic, an electric and a practice model.
Am I using them all? Yes, and I don’t regret acquiring them. However, the simple truth is that I am in the same behavioural rut that I found myself in following Jan’s passing. I now have become more knowledgeable about guitars and curiosity has driven the desire to try out more models. The more models I try out, the more likely I am to find another I really like.


I have replaced house clearance with a guitar fixation. Not a music fixation. I already had a music fixation since I was a boy. This new thing is quite different.


I never knew much about guitars before, beyond playing them that is. Other players knew far more about the history, diversity and detail of guitars in general. They are to me, still just tools, but I now have a disproportionate interest in the tools.


Another change is occurring. I am now in 2 bands and am considering starting another. Blown Out has been going for many years now. We are in a rut though. Much of our material we were playing we were doing 16 years ago. We are getting out less and it feels like we are running down. The Jazz band offer came by recommendation from a young drummer who I’d played with once. I have certainly augmented (no pun) my chord knowledge since trying to learn some of this new material.


Why a third band? I don’t know. Blown Out’s singer Pete has always wanted to gig more than the rest of us. He has ‘moonlighted’ with other bands before now. He and I came close to doing duo work before, and got a fair few songs rehearsed up. It was just some covers we liked and also a few original songs too.


Now, the idea is to launch a blues band. Why a blues band? The simple truth is that its easy music and we won’t need very long in rehearsals. We should be able to get a couple of sets together fairly quickly and get out gigging with minimal delay. Of course we like blues too, but the decision on the genre is mainly pragmatic.


If Jan were still about, I wouldn’t be looking outside of Blown Out for gigs and I wouldn’t have 5 more guitars now. I would likely have the Hofner I started with (in December 2014), and perhaps nurse a little curiosity about a couple of others for a while.


What else has happened? I have worked a lot of overtime to better afford the home improvements and the 2 holidays. Jan had booked both these holidays for the two of us. One last September and the other this August. I had serious doubts about going on either of them, but I’m glad I did. I met a lot more people and started learning to dance and also to talk pointlessly. Both are valuable skills. Why was I so late understanding that?


At 61, retirement is looming, but I don’t really want to retire anymore. Maybe that will change when things get rough at work again. Those things always happen, and it’s only a matter of time before the next crisis descends on us.


Based on my parent’s longevity, I reckon I’ve got maybe 16 years left. I need to make better use of it than spending money and working 12 hour days. On Sunday I begin taking more dancing lessons. So eventually I may be able to meet yet more people, talk pointlessly and dance a tango. There’s ambition for you.


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