London Calling

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A true highlight of the last few (often dark) weeks has been how people around me have reached out in often unexpected ways to lend an ear and let me know that they’re there if I need help.

Something that really touched me, and came at just the right moment happened on the day of my mom’s funeral several hours after the event when i was at home, quietly reflecting.

To give a bit of back story before I elaborate, there were never any musical instruments played in my house as a child – at least not competently anyway.

Some years later after moving out (and much to my stunned surprise) I learned that my deviously secretive father had hidden the fact that he could play the piano, and without warning started to do so whilst sitting in front of one at his mother’s house.

I remember being taken aback by the fact that I’d never seen this side of him before – and wondering why he’d kept this to himself.

My contribution to melody in contrast was pitiful. I’d never learned to play anything.

My woefully abused plastic recorder from school counted as little more than a brief period of torture for next door’s cat, while a sturdy wood and metal family mouth organ was only used by me for hammering drawing pins into my wall to secure my Spiderman posters.

There was however one other instrument in the house. In my parent’s room.

It had been there as long as I could remember, unloved and unused in a green carry case, zipped up and hidden away. Occasionally its location moved and from time to time it briefly came out to satisfy my curiosity.

It was an acoustic guitar, and as a young boy when i got my hands on it I had strummed it like an ape with a hammer, never coaxing even the most vaguely harmonic sound out of it.

A week or so ago my brother and I found the guitar at mom’s bungalow. On the head of the guitar behind the tuning pegs he had scratched his name, presumably so he could take it to school and make sure it didn’t go walkabout with another light fingered pupil.

Then further down on the back of the upper bout my mom had crudely written in Tippex her own name some years later.

My mom wrote her name and address on everything.

When I say everything I mean EVERYTHING. Even a small foldable stepping stool in her kitchen had her name written on it along with her address, despite it never leaving the house. I swear if I turned the cooker upside down her name would be underneath.

My brother was already angry that day, but this REALLY annoyed him. He wanted to take the guitar to the local tip and go completely ‘London Calling’ on it, smashing it to smithereens in a symbolic gesture designed to release the tension he clearly felt at the time.

For a moment I was on board with this – it seemed like a good idea. I was annoyed as well. The house clearance was really getting on my nerves and i’d already released some tension smashing a yellowed collection of particularly horrible 1977 silver jubilee plates at the ‘waste for landfill’ section of the dump.

In my mind’s eye my brother would mirror Paul Simonon on the famous Clash album cover as he wrought righteous vengeance on the tainted guitar in front of stunned onlookers at the tip before we walked off in slow motion like rock stars.

Then I paused.

Maybe it could be used elsewhere.

The last remaining member of my days team at work (Ryan) was a keen guitarist, and sometimes jammed and uploaded his tracks onto youtube.

Maybe he would like it? He could sand off the names and use it for himself, or give it to his young lad. Surely it would be better than smashing it?

Unlike the Queen’s broken face on a severely fragmented plate, it might then have a future.

I called him, and he sounded surprised – but was happy to take it, so I brought it into work the next day and handed it over.

I didn’t think much more about it – until at 8pm on the day of my mom’s funeral he sent me a video (since edited slightly) of him playing the guitar.

I’ll be honest – I cried a bit.

Seeing something that had been unused for so many years, and just buried under clutter by my mom turned into something that sounded so wonderful genuinely topped off my day on a positive note, and was so gratefully received words failed me.

I’m of the opinion lately that things are happening for a reason.

I’m not sure why but things that I’m doing aren’t turning out at all the way I expect them to.

Instead they’re turning out the way they’re MEANT to, and there’s a huge comfort in that.

Davey

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