Thursday 26 April 2012: Music, music, music
I was going to blip some more of hubby's guitars today, but then I noticed this pair - neither of which are (strictly speaking) his. The guitar was given to me in 1967 by my first serious crush, on the eve of him leaving for Australia. Before emigrating he also gave me my first 'continental' kiss (which I thought was gross), & a lifelong love of Simon & Garfunkel; I thought 'he' was my lifelong love (like you do when you're 13 - well, it was 1967: The Summer of Love), & we exchanged letters for well over a year, in fact right up until I started getting a social life & discovered that there were plenty more boys in the world. A few years later he came back for a visit & we went out for a drink, but one drink was more than enough once I realised that he'd turned into a pompous prat - perhaps he always had been, but my lovestruck eyes had blinded me to the fact? But, I've always been grateful to him for introducing me to the music of Simon & Garfunkel, & at some stage I decided that I was going to be a female Paul Simon - my flirtation with playing the guitar lasted about as long as it took to discover how much it made my fingers hurt, & so it was consigned to the loft. But that guitar has always signified one of my most memorable summers & I could never quite bring myself to part with it, so for the next 30 years it followed me from loft to loft. But then I met hubby - who has such reverence for all musical instruments that it's probably a good job he was already committed to me before he discovered how I'd abused my guitar; when he unearthed it from my loft it was in a very sorry state, & whilst I was grateful to him for offering to clean it up, I was a bit annoyed at the cavalier way he ripped off the scabby old bit of sheepskin, & binned it; but I suppose that was fair exchange for him straightening the neck, replacing a missing fret, fitting new strings, & polishing out the worst of the dings: he apologised for not being able to revive the very faded inscription written on the inside of it, as he'd heard all about my 'Antipodean love' & thought it a rather sweet story. Despite his ministrations, the guitar still wasn't really playable, but he refused to consign it to the loft again, & has always kept it with the rest of his stringed collection. However, that wasn't the end of the story (& I'm afraid this is rather a long one):
A few years ago the 'Antipodean love' tracked me down on Friends Reunited; we exchanged numerous emails catching up on the past few decades, & for a while I quite enjoyed the contact: he had known all of my family - including my two siblings who had since died, & it was good to be able to talk about them to him. But then he started talking about another proposed visit to the UK, & said he'd like to meet up; I really had no desire to see him again, & so conveniently didn't get around to replying to his last few mails where he kept badgering for my address, until eventually we got to the date when I knew he would already be in the UK & I thought I was safe .... unfortunately, I hadn't bargained on his tenacity. At that time we lived in a very small town, & I must have told him the name of it when we first got in touch; and so even though it meant a 200 mile detour from the rest of his itinerary, he decided to travel down here anyway; and once here, he simply walked around the town asking for me by name - he didn't know my surname, but he did know that I travelled around on an electric scooter, & of course that made me easily identifiable. Some helpful soul told him our address, & he headed on up; it so happened that hubby had popped down to a neighbour to help him fix his motorbike that evening, & they had actually seen this bearded weirdo - guitar strapped on back - walking into our cul de sac, & wondered who he was & where he was headed. So there I was, on my own, with this ageing hippy on the doorstep; he had travelled thousands of miles to see me, & so common politeness dictated that I should invite him in. I was expecting hubby back at any minute, but unfortunately the car repair took longer than expected, & I was stuck with this (even more) pompous idiot, who decided to pass the time by serenading me on his guitar. Laugh? I nearly wet myself! What had seemed so sweet & poignant three decades earlier was now just .... embarrassing; he couldn't even sing in tune, & when he wasn't crooning he was droning on & on about his favourite subject, i.e. himself. Hoping that he would take the hint & just clear off, I kept yawning & feigning tiredness, but he very solicitously said that he'd better stay & keep me company until hubby returned, & when hubby eventually arrived, he didn't know what to make of finding his wife sitting in the semi-darkness, being serenaded by a total stranger - especially one who had had the temerity to strum his way through hubby's own guitar collection (and - worse - re-tuned one of them!). Needless to say, they didn't hit it off; but even when we received an urgent phone call from our daughter asking us to take charge of our grandson for the night, he didn't take the hint; given that a family crisis had clearly arisen, most people would realise that the most helpful thing they could do would be to make themselves scarce, but not this one; hubby went dashing off in the car, fully expecting our 'guest' to follow him out, but instead he decided that he'd love to meet our grandson, & so hung on until they got back. When eventually hubby bluntly told him that we were all tired & that it was time for him to leave, he wanted to make arrangements to meet up the following day, but we said this wouldn't be possible as we needed to concentrate on our grandson; so we said our goodbyes (during which he tried to kiss me - very nearly earning himself a punch from my pacifist hubby!), agreed through gritted teeth that it had been 'lovely' to catch up, & I promised to be a better email correspondent. When, at nearly midnight, we finally shut the door on him, we both breathed a sigh of relief, & I promised hubby that I would be a lot more circumspect in the future about to whom I told what online.
Imagine our surprise when, late the following morning, hubby answered a knock on the door, & there he was again, inviting us out to lunch. Not surprisingly after such a late & stressful night, I wasn't feeling up to going anywhere; but he'd come bearing gifts - including a rather extravagant toy for our grandson, & purely for his sake we allowed him to come in for a short while. As far as we were aware, he was headed back up to Sussex the following day, and home to Australia soon after that; but he extended his stay in the UK, & at some point whilst in our house he must have sneaked a peek at our phone, as for the following week he kept on ringing me trying to arrange another meeting. I kept fobbing him off, but he was very persistent, & in the end hubby had to take the phone & basically tell him to sod off.
I wouldn't have blamed hubby if he'd decided to consign my guitar back to the loft, but instead he keeps it in a prominent position - possibly as a warning to me in case any other past loves track me down online; and the 'Antipodean first love' that even my kids had heard of, became the 'Ozzie stalker' that the whole family had a good laugh about, & still tease me about from time to time!
The violin has a much more mundane background: my aunt inherited it but had no use for it, & so knowing how hubby loves to revive old musical instruments, she gave it to him. He did indeed restore it, but the only playing it's ever had is as a means of tormenting our late lamented cat, which used to meow along to his fiddling.
Jack is totally unimpressed by hubby's fiddling - or by his guitar playing.