When I was young my Nan suggested that I should be a singer when I grew up. ‘You have a good voice,’ she said, ‘you could be one of those pop stars on the telly,’ as if it was as easy as sending a ten year old down the corner shop to buy ten Woodbine and a bottle of stout.
What a great idea, I thought. I could just picture it, little Jimmy Osmond and me duetting to Long Haired Lover from Liverpool as the crowd cheered and Tony Blackburn hailed me as the next Lena Zavaroni.
Shouldn’t really have taken her as literally as I did, I know; this was the Nan who wrote to the Evening Sentinel in Stoke-on-Trent suggesting that all the foreigners be housed on a boggy piece of unused land near Rugely bypass. But I took her advice to heart and somehow wangled a second-hand guitar and set about playing it, so I could sing along to a tune.
Cue me, hunched over the three bar electric fire in the kitchen strumming the first line of ‘Ride a white Swan’ over and over, until everyone’s ears bled.
Mum bought me a book of ‘Easy Tunes for the Beginner’ (cheek!) as I got stuck after, ‘Swan,’(he knew some tricky chords, did that Marc Bolan) but ‘Greensleeves’ and ‘Flies in the Buttermilk’ were never going to get me on the stage in blue velvet flares and Gary Glitter sized platform shoes.
So even though my fingertips had toughened up so much I could carry plates straight from the oven on to the dinner table, and could change to B7 without looking, I just stopped playing.
I had realised how long it would take to become proficient and I didn’t want to give that much time to improve my meagre talent – I wanted it all immediately.
I wish I’d stuck at it. I’d be pretty good by now.
This has nothing much to do with being a writer, you might have noticed, but getting published is my new dream and don’t intend to give it up as easily.
This writing game is harder in a way as there are no rules to guarantee success. And it doesn’t just take a few hours out of your week; it eats up great swathes of your life, you swat your children out of the way of your computer screen, you develop writer’s arse, and wine becomes your best friend. (Okay, it was pretty close ally to start with) It’s a real uphill battle and it’s hard work, but I know I can’t stop until I’m done.
Never did get the blue velvet flares and I walked like a duck in the platforms, but my Nan was mighty proud of my guitar playing and I think if she’s still looking down on me, although I’m not yet published, she’ll be mightily proud now.