Archive for guitar


Posted in books, everyday life, museum, shrewsbury with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2010 by suetortoise

Yesterday I did something that I haven’t done for several years: I got a couple of books out of the library.

The Library from The Castle

Sounds odd, doesn’t it, coming from someone who so fond of reading – let alone someone who lives almost within a stone’s throw of the library? But it’s true. I’ve been into the library quite a few times, researching this and that, but it’s many years since I have wanted to take a library book home with me.

The main part of Shrewsbury’s library is housed in the old Shrewsbury School building. With a fine statue of Charles Darwin outside – educated here. The music library is housed in a room which still has the old panelling on the walls, covered in schoolboy names and initials, cut deeply into the wood, usually in rather fine handwriting.

It was the music section that drew me this time. I tend to get most of my fiction reading from charity shops – much of it returns for resale – and since I’ve had Internet access, I have found less and less need to go across the road to look up facts. However, the guitar occasionally needs feeding with new songs, and I thought it would make sense to see what could be borrowed, before I get tempted into buying new songbooks or waste more hours chasing things down on the web. And once I’d had my elderly library card replaced with a shiny new one, I came out happily clutching a couple of collections of tunes with a few ‘possibles’ in each.

(Much of this afternoon has vanished in transposing and getting to grips with ‘Carolina in my Mind’. Which turns out a great deal less daunting than I expected, once I’d rescued it from the key of F and put it safely down in G to get rid of the flats. I flatly refuse to play flats, except B flat. One has to draw a line somewhere. I will put up with a modest number of sharps.)

One advantage of not having borrowed from the library for so many years is that they may have had some turnover in the fiction section since I stopped bothering to look at it. Maybe there will be some new non-fiction on subjects that interest me? Who knows? I may have been lured back into library usage by the demands of a hungry guitar, but there’s a lot more than music in Shrewsbury Library (quite apart from the joy of being inside a lovely and historic building). I’m looking forward to my next visit….


May Contain Nuts

Posted in everyday life, Family and Friends, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2010 by suetortoise

It’s May. Time For another update on recent activity. First up, on May Day itself: Eric, my father had his 90th Birthday. Here he is on his special day:

Eric Jones - 90th Birthday Portrait

My sister was visiting from London. So along with my mother and I the whole family were together. Friends kept turning up with presents and cards, relatives phoned. After lunch – Dad’s birthday choice of sausage, mash and peas, cooked by my sister – he found it a bit overwhelming. So he went off to his den for a spot of quiet computer programming.

‘Tis of a fair young maiden, and she lived down in Kent,
Arose one sunny morning, and she a nutting went….

You can’t have May without a spot of morris, can you? So I’ve been adding The Nutting Girl to my guitar repertoire. I am enjoying learning new songs and tunes, especially when I have worked out the chords for myself, as I did with this one. Thanks to inspiration from Graham Higgins, I’ve been tackling La Mer – now that’s tricky to master! But I am getting better at it. I started with chords off the web for La Mer, but Lady Franklin’s Lament is another one I have worked out for myself. It’s a real joy to have a guitar on hand again.

Shropshire Community Flickr Group are doing a ‘Photo a Day’ challenge for May. (Last year we did one in April.) I’m not always remembering to take a photo until the light is fading, but so far I’ve managed to keep up, although they’re not all quality shots! Here are a couple of them.

Another everyday drama
Duckling in the Dingle
The rest are accumulating here.

How Far We’ve Come

Posted in discussion topic, out and about with tags , , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by suetortoise

 Back in June, I started this blog, thanks to the Shift Time Festival’s ‘Blogging Project’ workshops, which provided a blogging expert to show a bunch of beginners the basics and patiently answer our endless questions – Thanks Pete! Last week, I was passing-on the benefits of that short course and my eight months of hands-on experience to someone who has recently started blogging and who wanted a little help. I was happy to do that, and delighted to find that I could answer almost all his questions without trouble. A good sign of progress – but read on.

Back in September, just five months ago, I wrote about a trip I made to Birmingham to visit a friend. I’d planned it almost like a major military campaign, with Google maps and bus timetables. I’d needed to do that, as I was still coming out from the effects of thyroid deficiency and I was still struggling with planning and organising things. It turned out to be an aborted visit, as my friend had not been able to be there to meet me, but considering how tired the trip made me, it was just as well – I wouldn’t have been good company for long. However, it was a total success in terms of achieving my plans, a small tactical victory that was a huge boost to my morale, and assured me that I was getting back to normal.

It was this same friend, Graham Higgins, who’d asked for help with his blog; and last Friday’s trip was the same journey I’d made in September – this time with Graham at the far end of it. He’d also heard about my small guitar, and wanted to see it, so the guitar came too and we spent at least half the time playing through old songs. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to play along with someone else. It was a most enjoyable few hours. Unlike September’s journey, last week’s trip required no meticulous planning. Even allowing for the fact that I’d made the same trip before, I took it so much in my stride and was so relaxed on arrival, that I could see how much extra progress I have made in just those last five months, how much my confidence has come back again. Which is very encouraging news in itself – but read on.

Not long after I’d made that first trip to Birmingham, Graham had been diagnosed with a serious heart problem, an aortic dissection. So serious that it’s usually first picked up at post-mortem. At the end of December, he underwent heart surgery at Selly Oak Hospital: a seven-hour operation to replace a heart valve and line the aorta. Six weeks on from that, I was expecting to meet someone frail and still very convalescent, muddled in mind, very soon tired. I didn’t. He looks well, vibrantly alive, as full of ideas and intelligent responses as ever. He amazed me by frequently nipping up the stairs to get things, playing guitar and ukelele, singing, cooking lunch and finally accompanying me on the walk back to Stirchley and the bus at a speed that had me scurrying to keep up (and both of us talking nineteen to the dozen – we trotted past three bus stops rather than break off the conversation). All this in just six weeks – and I thought that I was doing well!

I won’t talk more about the operation here – the man has a blog, and can tell you about it far better in his own words. (Graham’s blog is under redevelopment, don’t be surprised if you encounter painters’ dropcloths and stumble over stepladders at this link.) All thanks to the doctors who spotted the problem and to the surgical team that fixed it so successfully.

Think of this, next time you wonder whatever happened to the future we used to read of in science fiction: it’s here, doing impossibly complex medical procedures as routine. (Think of this, too, next time you hear someone indulging in the national sport of moaning about the National Health Service, which provides such exquisite, time-consuming surgical work without charge.) Think of this – and just look how far we have come.