Friday, 30 January 2009

John Martyn

I can’t let the passing of John Martyn going without some form of tribute to this great musician.

John Martyn had his spiritual roots in Glasgow although he was born in England. He emerged onto the British folk scene in the late 1960s and was signed to the great Island record label by Chris Blackwell. Almost as soon as his career was launched though his eclectic influences and diverse style began to move from folk to include elements of Jazz and Rock. In the early 70s he developed a unique style of guitar playing using an old Martin acoustic fitted with a pickup that he fed through various effects including an echoplex echo unit to create a looping chaotic sound.

Solid Air was released in 1973 and is one of the defining albums of the 70s. By now Martyn was working with the great bass player Danny Thompson and also his vocal style was developing into the utterly unique Martyn drawl that so defined much of his work. To me he used the voice not simply to convey the story of the song through the lyrics but as much as a timbre instrument adding colour to the whole piece. This slurring style also for me is the hook that draws me into Martyn’s world and into the intense emotion that he often portrayed in his music.

At the turn of the decade into the 1980s John’s long term marriage to Beverley broke up. In the emotional turmoil of that time he crafted what to me is his greatest album – Grace and Danger. Just listen to “Hurt in Your Heart” and tell me that isn’t one of the most intensely emotional pieces of music ever recorded. I saw a clip on YouTube of him playing that song 30 years after it was written and it still brought Martyn to tears. On this album he collaborated with Phil Collins who was also going through marriage difficulties I believe. Whatever the jazz/rock feel of that album was for me where Martyn was at his very best. Island actually sat on the final recording for sometime very disturbed as to whether releasing such emotion publicly was the right thing to do. It was, it is an amazing work with an emotional intensity rarely if ever seen in popular music elsewhere.

The followup Glorious Fool included Phil Collins again and a guest appearance by Eric Clapton. I know Clapton regarded Martyn very highly. It looked at this time as if Martyn would head for super stardom. He moved labels to WEA and recorded Well Kept Secret. For some reason though that album may have been more successful than others but still wasn’t the mainstream breakthrough and for Sapphire only 2 years later he was back with Island. Sapphire contains another gem I’d recommend of Martyns work, his cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. A re-working that almost makes you wonder if he wrote the thing in the first place. His sound headed in a slightly more electra direction for the next release – Piece by Piece. This also contained the first commercially available CD single released in the UK – Angeline. It was on the tour for that album in 1986 that I luckily saw John perform live at the Marlowe theatre in Canterbury. He was a performer who really let the music talk and poured himself into the music and into you as a result, he had a great crowd report via his Scottish lilting voice often bringing the band in with comments like “Come on ladies!” etc.

In the 1990s his output slowed and he headed more jazz at times in particular Cooltide which got close to his dream of “singing with Weather Report”. After the turn of the millennium he produced On the Cobbles his last album and a very good one. Another eclectic mix of folk, blues, jazz and rock and just very Martyn. I was glad he was back to his best and it is now a very fitting epitaph to him.

His health had suffered though and John had to have his right leg amputated below the knee due to a burst cyst. I’m sure I heard him blame using a Les Paul on stage for years for this. In the last few months he has been recognised as the great inspiration he has been, first with an OBE in the New Year’s honours and also last year with the Radio 2 Folk Awards lifetime achievement award.

Farewell John – there will never be another like you.

If you want to sample John I’d recommend listening to the whole of Solid Air and Grace and Danger as your starting points.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

John Martyn - RIP







We will always love you. Sad news the great great John Martyn passed away this morning.

May You Never - possibly his most famous song and just brilliant.
Sweet Little Mistery - That one gets me, I've had the odd knowing of losing love in my life - this song gets to that emotion in a millisecond.
Hurt in your Heart - Just emotion in a tune, plus a great little insight into Martyn himself in this little extract from a BBC documentary.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Morning has broken ...

At 6am this morning as I'm eating my corn flakes downstairs I can hear Mrs F stomping about upstairs and thought - what's up with her. She comes downstairs with an upturned cup - "Huge spider in our bed"! We then had an inappropriate conversation for anytime of day regarding where the spider might have been during the night.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

I have a bulge

I have a bulge where I don’t think I need one.

12 string guitars – Guitarists, why do we do this to ourselves?

I have a 12 string acoustic. An old Yamaha one. The action is a bit of a nightmare – so I whipped off the strings and had a go at trying to lower it, took out the saddle and filed it down. Re-assemble and restring and the action is a bit better but still not brilliant. I think the problem is that the darn thing is bulging on the table pushing the bridge up and tilting it forward. Any ideas now? There is precious little of the saddle to file away… :-) Some little digging on the net etc. points to humidity issues, but my other acoustics, held in the same room appear fine, my LL6 could do with a slight lowering of the action but it’s not bad and the old old Fender classical frankly plays as well as it ever has and I’d have thought a light fragile acoustic more susceptible to these things than a solidly nailed together Yamaha box.

Also the bulge details on the web seem to indicate that if it’s bulging out like mine is then it’s cos the humidity is too much, it should sink back if dry. Makes sense to me – but my guitars are in a room with the dreaded central heating in, I do have the thermostat valve in that room lower than everywhere else but it’s hardly cold and surely somewhat dried out due to the radiator.

I also have decided to tune half a step down on it rather than keep it at concert pitch. But that has only marginal improvement. It’s okay up to about the 7th fret then gets worse. Shame as with new strings on it doesn’t sound bad and 12 strings do have something special – just a total bugger to tune up, keep in tune and obviously get a reasonable action on…

Any suggestions? If it is humidity maybe I should bung it in a case with some silica gel for a week and see if that helps I suppose.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Motivation and Prevarication

The company I work at has announced another wave of redundancies, it’s been like this on and off for about 6 years now. We are one of those companies that have grown by gobbling up some of our competition. When I joined here in the early 90s that wasn’t the plan, the plan was “organic growth”. We did pretty well on that jumping up in the league tables in our industry through the 90s on the back of a lot of good work. Then consolidation started in our industry with other competitors of ours merging to grow themselves and it was obvious we were never going to be the top dog if we didn’t join in. Also an important product that we had a partnership marketing deal on looked under threat from a merger, so our bosses changed the rules and we went aggressive and bought that company. Over night we were no 1 in the world. We merged with another company and after that the reorganisations and rationalisations started. In 2003 I thought I was out of a job as I was “deselected” but another guy wanted to go and I was kept on. In 2006 I thought I was likely to be shown the door but somehow that didn’t happen.

We started 2009 with another wave of redundancies in the part of the business I support. I know that this is necessary stuff etc. but it is hard to see people you know who’ve worked hard, done all asked of them and then a decision to “consolidate” or “outsource” is taken by people away from them and they are the people counting the cost. I’m a bit fed up of receiving emails from my USA colleagues saying “my last day is x, thanks for everything” and having to type replies of “Sorry you are going, please keep in touch”.

The last few days the papers are rife with rumours of my company buying another company and I think to myself, that’ll mean another whole host of reorgs somewhere along the line and my group being a support function hasn’t yet even had our changes announced – we know in principle how the structure will be but the actual changes and job losses are not yet announced.

Motivation in the midst of all of this is a major issue for me, since Christmas I have singularly failed to “get going”. This isn’t like the depression I felt in the summer last year, this feels like laziness but is largely because 1) my customer base is in turmoil of it’s own. 2) there’s every chance I’ll not be here in a few weeks time. I know the AA thing is “keep it in the day”, “focus on the things you can do not what you can’t control”, etc. but I’m finding it desperately hard at the moment.

Prevarication is the second point – I am now beating myself up over the fact that I seem to hear lots of people here talking about “Well if it is my turn I’ve this plan to move to x and do y” or “Glad I took that course last year, if all else I can look for some work using that as a z until something else comes along”… etc. I have no plan b – I’ve bugger all of a plan a really – keep turning up and hope they pay me. I was listening to Peter Jones (Dragon’s Den) on Radio 1 this morning – he was on about being positive and getting on a doing something in the recession not sitting on your arse. I always feel people saying that are having a direct go at yours truly. I know that isn’t true but the old knot of fear in the stomach hits me and I hate that feeling of being totally without direction.

I must complete my things to be grateful for list today. Get myself a bit more focused at least on the simple good things in my life and not to worry about decisions I can’t realistically influence and stop trying to second guess the world.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Book Review – Exodus Quest, Will Adams

I had bought Will Adams first novel (The Alexandria Cipher) from our local 2nd hand book shop. I liked it a lot. Very Indiana Jones, archaeologist in rush to get to the great find before the badies etc. it made a good page turner.

So Mr Adams returns with this sophomore effort. Well, basically the same thing, i.e. some same characters – Daniel Knox the now famous archaeologist again wrapped up in a race against time. This time with more than one plot going on, one he needs to prove his innocence in a murder and save his friend (it’s made clear not girlfriend) from a kidnap plot. Badies include a religious zealot who will kill if he believes God tells him to and a very nasty soldier/policeman who is stealing artefacts from a tomb he has found. Woven through this is a somewhat unbelievable plot about the truth behind the Exodus story as portrayed in the Bible.

Still is was a page turner – out author weaves the stories inside each chapter with small snippets of what is happening in the multiple locations and the multiple plots so you always want to “just read the next chapter love” to get the next instalments.

The story line is frankly unbelievable – if you are looking for serious history and / or something with real depth then look elsewhere. If however you like the Indiana Jones films and that ilk this is a reasonably recommended read.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

School talk

Today I had the privilege of talking to a load of school kids - well they were 15/16 so young adults they'd no doubt prefer.

We showed a DVD about AA and talked about our alcoholism and tried to answer their questions. No doubt these students are used to "experts" coming and explaining stuff that they are paid to explain about and which they have studied not experienced. No disrespect to them but Prof Max Glatt once said "I am an authority on alcoholism not an expert. If you want an expert go talk to AA". I think we always get a reaction as we are unpaid and doing it as a service and also we no doubt don't talk like the professionals.

"How much do you have to drink to be an alcoholic?" "As much as you like" laughs "well for us here today enough to drive us into hospital to the point of suicide etc. etc."

Lurid tales of prisons, hospital stays after alcoholic fits in which hearts were restarted (only to discharge and go on another death defying bender), standing on a cliff top trying to will yourself over the edge, horrendous car crashes... I think we get a lot of attention and then we explain it isn't to do with penniless drunks on park benches or what you drink, how much or who with but if you are obsessed with it and cannot control it you have a problem and we've found a solution so take a leaflet and remember us in the future.

Hopefully none of them will need us in the future but statistically that is unlikely given the size of the year group.

We often quote stats. "How many people die from Heroin in the UK a year?" Guesses from 1000 up. It's actually about 200. When you say "Well we're coming to the end of the hour of us talking with you and in that time 3 people have died in this country from an alcohol related condition, accident or violence" there is a pause for thought.

We might have done some good today. Whatever it did me some good, gave me some hope. Plus spending a day with another bunch of drunks is always a laugh - one of our number going off for a smoke was funny, it was like being back at school trying to bunk off for a fag.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Gone but not forgotten

With the new addition to the fold Mrs F asked for a count of all the guitars in the house. I thought it was about 10 – it was 13 – and one is on extended leave of absence with Son-of-Furtheron at university.

Time for rationalisation I think. My good friend DeeJay has been learning guitar for a year or so and moaning a bit about the starter guitar he bought himself with a few annoying buzzes and rattles etc. So being the generous chap I am I offered him the chance to buy my Les Paul Special which he duly has, and seems very happy with it given his beaming smile when I saw him this morning.

Maybe I should set up GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) Anonymous… no maybe not :-)

Monday, 19 January 2009

Things to be grateful for

My daughter can simply go to school without fear.

Bird watching...

I've just got an email from the RSPB to take part in their annual survey this weekend which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. You simply spend an hour counting the birds that come into your garden.

Now in very recent past, since we installed the new bird table, we have had large numbers of pigeons and ring-collared doves, some starlings, blackbirds, sparrows, a couple of chaffinches, a pair of blue tits, magpies, a pair of jays, a tiny little wren and even a woodpecker. What's the betting the hour I sit to do my count I'll just get 12 pigeons and that is it... :-)

Go here if you are interested in taking part by the way.

Another passing

I’ve already blogged that I’m not keen on 2009 so far, too many people passing away. Sadly a cousin of mine – well she was my Dad’s cousin passed away yesterday. She’d been in hospital since just before Christmas and it was clear that she’d not be able to return to her little flat again so a search for a suitable nursing home had just begun. Sadly a chest infection went the way that they do for the elderly and she passed away peacefully. In the end a blessing, she’d had a long life and always enjoyed her independence and the prospect of the nursing home wasn’t ideal for her.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Latest addition to the collection





Had to happen... Only £650, some little dents, replaced tuners and strap buttons (which I've again replaced already) but look at this!!! PRS CE22 - in Whale Blue - I think a 2001 from the serial number. The Les Paul Special will have to go to make room and provide some funds but this is much more me than the P90 loaded boy.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Coalface of Recovery

I used that phrase in my gratitude list, guide your eyes to the right and you’ll see it there. I try to update it at least daily.

I was starkly reminded of it yesterday at a very powerful AA meeting. I clearly cannot share who was there or what was said other than from myself. Bottom-line though was the underlying need to keep working your recovery, don’t be complacent and think you are cured as the drink is never far away from an alcoholic and especially so if they don’t remind themselves of what is was like (at the end utter despair) and what it is like now (hopeful).

Too often I can think. “But I’m okay I don’t drink anymore I can back off the meetings and the design for living that the programme is”. That might be true if I could live in glorious isolation from the world and it’s tribulations. But I can’t as most people can’t. Also if I isolate away from the world that frankly can be worse – I’ll just end up over thinking and analysing any problems or issues I have, I’ll start to project a future, either one with untold additional problems and heartaches for me or one which portrays an idyllic paradise which is so totally unobtainable I’ll then flip again to the negative cycle of thinking of why I can’t get there and start blaming me or others for that failing.

I am incredibly lucky. I live in a really nice country, one where I don’t have to dodge bullets or explain or justify myself to anyone. In the grand scheme of the world I’m very rich (60% of the worlds population have an income of less than $3000 a year). I have my family around me, friends in AA and elsewhere that are great people. I have a house, warmth, clothing, food in the cupboards etc. How fortunate is all of that? And then on top of that I happen to have a condition that can kill if you don’t do something about it but again my luck is that all I have to do is not drink alcohol and go to AA meetings and work the AA programme.

The coalface of recovery can feel hard work when things are against you – normally some emotion that is triggered by something external to me I can do nothing to change. However I’m glad I keep turning up at it and chipping away at my little bit of it.

Credit where credit is due

The UK Passport office should get a bloody big slap on the back. In this day and age where everyone seems to be moaning about the slowness and generally poor service many organisation and govt. depts. seem to deal up I'd like to applaud the passort office.

Mrs F needed a new passport as it expired last week and we're planning to be off to the USA for our summer hols. So she got the form ages ago but finally filled it in and got Son-of-Furtheron with his photo skills to take the required mug shot last week. She took it to the post office to send it recorded delivery last Friday.

The brand spanking new one was on our doorstep when I arrived home last night about 6pm. How is that for service. That is about 128 hours! Given I presume they don't work weekends you can actually take 48 hours off that and presumably it was at our house probably 6 hours earlier than I got home that is, including delivery time, 74 hours!!

Well done. That is service!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Very proud Dad moment

I got home just in time to see a bubbling and happy daughter head off to drama class. She has been picked to swim for the school team and also has recieved a letter saying she has won an award from the local district swimming association.

That's my girl. :-)

Delurking


I’ve pinched this from Aunt Jackie who was inspired by someone else… There is some stat that only 10% of people who read blogs comment – so come on out and let me know you are here and reading this. Absolutely no agenda other than I’d love to know who is out there reading this.

I have enabled anonymous comments and have moderation on, so if you want to say hi but don’t want it published just say “Hi I’m x from y I read your blog. Please reject this comment” and I’ll obey your wishes.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Gear Aquisition Syndrome

See love it is a recognised psychological condition... well it's got a wikipedia entry.

P.S. I spotted this orginally on this blog.

More things to moan about

One of my nicknames in the family is Victor – after Richard Wilson’s legendary character Victor Meldrew from the BBC series “One Foot In The Grave”.

I don’t intentionally set off to moan about stuff, honestly I don’t, but I seem to be presented with situations that would make the pope moan. Here are three examples from this weekend.

We were on the way to Wales to drop my son back at university. It was flipping cold, another minus 7 morning. The washers for the windscreen on the car were not surprisingly frozen up. So when we pulled into one of the service stations on the M1 I saw “Free water” and headed over thinking I’ll at least give the screen a quick wash over. Well you needed a token – “available from the counter when you buy fuel”. How’s that free? The sign should say “water free with any fuel purchase”.

On the way back on Sunday we got to the very end of the M1 and one of those huge info signs said “M25 J30-31 closed”. Hell I thought that is a total bugger. So we pulled into South Mimms services and checked the Highways Agency info screen and my daughter also checked on the internet on the home and spoke to us on the phone. Delays of 15 mins. Not too bad we thought. Another big sign told us that there were delays at Felixstowe port but most were blank. We thought, if this motorway is shut they’ll have the signs up, surely? No. It was shut, we had to pull off at junction 29 and double back on the A12 to the Blackwall tunnel. Now if they’d have told me the truth at South Mimms we’d have gone straight down the M11 and saved ourselves 30 mins at least. It really annoyed me the misinformation, the Highways Agency have a campaign about planning your route ahead of time etc. at the moment so you aren’t caught out. Fat chance if they don’t give you the relevant information.

Finally I was expecting to watch the concluding part of a Lynda La Plante thriller (Above Suspicion) only to find it wasn’t a week between episodes but that I’d missed it when out at AA on Monday. (That by the way was totally my fault and I’m not moaning about that.) Mrs F then said – “try that ITVPlayer thing they go on about”. Well my advice to anyone who thinks that is…. Don’t bother. It was like watching a narrated slide show as the streaming couldn’t keep up and in the end I never saw the last section as it insists on the ad breaks still being there but after the last one it never “transitioned” back to the show. The BBC iPlayer is brilliant, the kids use it extensively but ITV has a long way to go with their offering based on my experience last night. Anyway as I finally gave up on that my wife was chuckling at a text message – “What’s that?” I asked. “Oh it’s from your son asking if Victor is his usual self”…

Friday, 9 January 2009

Frost

-7°C!!! Yes folks -7°C on the drive to work this morning. That is a minus sign. It had created this amazing winter wonderland scene of the Kent countryside with incredible frost patterns all over the fields, fences and plants. I’ve never seen in Kent tall trees with bright white frost adorning the very top of the branches. Whilst all very pretty I’ve just about had enough of the cold now can it please please warm up? Especially tomorrow we’ve got the long drive back to Wales to drop my son off at uni along with half a car of belongings. I’m hoping we’ll be driving toward warmer weather from the look of the forecast.

I’ve also decided I don’t like 2009 already, as you know one friend has had one tragedy but almost daily this week it’s continued with an old school teacher at my old school and the one that Mrs F works at sadly passing away and then a very sad loss of a 17 year old girl my wife knew following an overdose. Very sad.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Book Review – Attila, The Judgement by William Napier.

This is the third and final volume of Napiers trilogy about Attila which started in the first volume with Attila being held as a young child as a hostage at the Roman Imperial palace. This was common as part of the bargaining of treaties at that time although there is no documented evidence to suggest that Attila did actually spend time in Rome in this manner. He then escapes and makes the long journey home with a young Greek friend Orestes who is based on a real life character who did serve as secretary in Attila’s court and who was in reality the man in control of the final years of the Western Roman empire with his son being regarded by many as the final true emperor of that line of the Roman empire.

Anyway this last particular volume describes the later portion of Attila’s life and his campaigns against firstly the Eastern Roman Empire and then subsequently the Western Roman Empire through his invasion of Gaul and then Italy itself and up until his and nemesis Aetius, the greatest Roman general of that time, deaths.

Whilst a lot of the story has fictional licence a lot of this volume clearly recounts many true historical events, although the historical accounts of much of these are clouded through the mists of time and it has meant I’ve done some research around the final falling of the Western Roman Empire which was interesting in particular highlighting some of the differences in opinion over the motives or not behind certain acts. Attila’s death for example has several different interpretations in the historical accounts, some claiming he died after a haemorrhage following a huge celebration, others that it was poisoning and others that in fact a new wife in fact stabbed him which is the version Napier chooses to depict.

Anyway – this is a pretty relentless read as no doubt was the author intention to continually pound the reader with one battle, siege, atrocity etc. after another which shows how both the invaded and the invaders no doubt felt through those campaigns.

Monday, 5 January 2009

One of the those “Why?” moments

I heard that a friend had some tragic news over the holiday. A house fire at their sisters home has claimed the lives of the sister, who battled on in intensive care for a few days, and her husband, who died at the scene. Also their mother, who was staying there at the time, is now in hospital although shows some good signs of probably recovering. How terrible. Luckily the couples 12 year old daughter was staying away on that night so wasn’t hurt but the poor girl is now facing an uncertain future and trying to cope with losing both parents at a stroke and you do think “Why?”. The poor girl doesn’t deserve that. However really that is life isn’t it some of us get a good deck dealt, others a very poor one. If you are the praying kind please include her in your prayers today.

It’s a large smack in the face for me with my ungrateful moods. Bloody hell what more to be grateful for each day than you wake up alive and well. I should smile more today and be grateful for just being here. Oh and my 18 year old son has just been out to “play in the snow” and build a snowman – all just kids at heart still aren’t we.

Oh so nearly…

No doubt all of you were riveted to your armchairs Sunday afternoon to watch the biggest match of the FA Cup 3rd round… No? Well Gillingham lost 2-1 to Villa but put on an excellent display – already one Villa fan who is a friend has apologised for the penalty that cost us the game. However it probably wasn’t too an unfair result but the replay at Villa would have been just reward. Still we need to translate more of that quality into wins in the league but I think sometimes we’re a bit too clever for our own good in a largely physical division.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Prog rules

Last night BBC4 had two programmes about prog rock, a load of old clips of various BBC recorded performances, early Genesis, Yes, King Crimson etc. Then a documentary about prog rock.

I'm an unashamed fan of Yes, Rush etc. given where I was born and brought up as well near Canterbury Soft Machine and Caravan had a lot of influence over local groups. Great programmes reminded of the skill in prog rock, yes it might have been disconnected lyrically with the youth of the 70s and we all sought solace in punk but it was still a great time for music I think.

For me I wanted to be like Steve Howe or Robert Fripp when I was 14 but I had no idea how much you needed to learn to do that. So punk seemed a good idea and I loved the rebellion aspect to push back on the crap society we seemed to have coming out of the 60s. But then punk went all fashion and I didn't like it as much, I went back to metal with Maiden etc. and listened to prog under the cover of darkness... :-)

Today prog is alive and well just not in Britain really - Dream Theatre live on as great examples we need more from the UK to show we're not all jangly guitar bands and X-Factor finalists.

Wandered into a little local guitar shop today - PRS CE22, in blue, second hand, a few knocks and dents but reasonable nick really for a used specimen. In urgent need of new strings and a set up but get this... £650!!! Yes I know I might have let that slip through my hands but I can't really justify that can I?

Son-of-Furtheron just took delivery of a Line6 JM4 looper - initial signs show it's bloody great for practice, the drum loops etc. will no doubt help him improve his timing and get better at chord progressions and changes. Maybe I should get one?... :-)

Friday, 2 January 2009

Essential maintenance

The two books Mrs F bought me for Christmas (The Les Paul Manual and the Stratocaster Manual) prompted me to spread the old rug over the dining table, dig out my shoe box containing my collection tools and polish etc. and have a go at some better set ups of the guitars.

Firstly – my dear old strat is showing it’s age (I bought it brand new in 82 so that means its now heading for 27 years!). I cleaned up the fretboard which was pretty grimy I’m afraid. But in doing this I realised that there are some flat spots on the frets. I might buy a fret cleaning system like the Planet Waves one but I think it might need an expert at some point soon if not a complete refret. However I tweaked the action a little bit lower, cleaned up the bridge etc. and found again that this is still one hell of a bloody good Strat despite it not being from the right country. I could probably pay a lot of money for not a lot extra in terms of playability or quality you know.

Right then on to the others. My Les Paul Special has had a slightly too high an action for a while now. I polished up the fretboard with some lemon oil which has improved the feeling of that area massively I tweaked the bridge a bit lower but still wasn’t happy. So into uncharted territory for me. I snapped an elastic capo onto the first fret found the feeler gauges I doubt I’ve used since the Mini Metro bit the dust and I bought cars you can’t do anything with any more and measured the neck relief. Hmm not too good, possibly as this is the faded finish model and therefore really almost bare wood I wonder if indoor life with central heating etc. is getting to it. No matter I’m a man with a book and the recommended Gibson tool so look out truss rod here I come! After a double check I tightened it a quarter turn, supped my cuppa to let it settle and tweaked it maybe an eighth more. Way better action and feel, backed up by a quick independent play test from Son-of-Furtheron. “That actions a lot better isn’t it”.

The Peter Cook was next on to the work bench. “My darling you don’t look bad after all these years” – I bought this in the mid 80s and it was already a few years old by then, either very late 70s or early 80s I believe. Okay – bastard crackly vol pot to deal with first – a flooding of switch cleaner later that was fixed thankfully as this being an active guitar I don’t really want to get into all that thank you. A tweak of action, a little push on the truss rod (getting cocky now aren’t we?) and viola I’m back again thinking – stop lusting over PRS and SGs etc. this old war horse is one hell of a guitar. I'm sure to get similar quality these days I'd be into four figures in a big way. Every man and his dog has a PRS etc. and I've got the classic Gibson/Strat combo already I should treasure this little beauty you know.

Unfortunately Mrs F tapping her watch and the smell of a curry from the kitchen meant the workshop had to pack away for the day but I’m now commissioned to clean up sons ESP EC1000 fingerboard and check his action etc. out – although a cursory look last night I doubt there’ll be much to do there. I’m also going to have a look at the Les Paul Custom as well although again I don’t think it needs much except a clean.

Well after this lot of work I’ve now got some essential new purchases… these for getting the action set right on all strings and this in case in the future I need to reset a Les Paul bridge.

Pictures of the guitars mentioned in this post are here.

Happy New Year

I'm struggling however to be enthusiastic myself. I've often found this time a problem - the expectation of the new year all the things planned, all the things put off to do "next year" etc. and then the dawning realisation that if my life pattern to date can show me anything it'll be that this time next year I'll be reflecting on all the things not done, all the things still put off for another year etc.

I'm terrible at the negative glasses view, for example, we have a holiday already planned this year to USA Boston and Connecticut again. But instantly my brain is saying - of all the years to book a USA holiday you do it when the pound is at it's lowest against the dollar. I ignore that when we went in 2006 it was the best it's ever been, I ignore that I managed to save up my airmiles and basically we're all flying there for free. My negative views do make me chuckle about myself - New Years Day 2002 my daughter woke us up jumping on the bed shouting Happy New Year. Mrs F wished me a Happy New Year and the first thing I said was "I'm flipping 40 this year" - Brilliant! Oh and my birthday isn't until October so that was setting up for 10 months of moaning as well...

Right one resolution I must keep up is to do a daily gratitude list like I used to. I might put it in one of my side bar things to help me do that. Watch this space...

Anyhow - I should shut up being so flipping miserable and get on with it and look forward to the things that will happen. Oh yes and Happy flipping New Year to you all... :-)