Guitar Man, Part 3

I can’t remember for the life of me* where the electric guitar came from. Possibly it was from a sister’s boyfriend, maybe from a church group member. But came it did, in 1982, and its reconstruction became the summer project of me, our John, and his dad, my Uncle Albert.

Of the classic Stratocaster shape (the guitar, not Albert), it was stringless and missing its bridge; no name on the headstock, so I helpfully marker-penned that in with ‘Fender’. A replacement bridge was found and secured to the body – in fact, entirely through the body – with long, thin bolts which were instantly tormented by the tuning of new strings and made to lean leftwards with such breathtaking malleability that they instantly became sweat-inducing prongs of menace – a musical Buckaroo with genuine maiming potential – bar-chord booby traps – a Rock n’ Roll nail bomb – and thereby imbued the instrument with peril, self-harm and impending chaos that were not merely cultural and moral in nature, as expected of an electric guitar, but actual and physical and with the real threat of string-lashed scarring and disfigurement. As it is, I might trace asthma and high blood pressure back to that tensile uncertainty, but regret no pale nick in the chin, or impressively welted forearm, that might tell something of anarchic youth – the anecdote-fodder of first dates and second interviews.


John and Albert it was, both serial tinkers with very neat brains, who effected the repairs and believed in the bolts, and in truth they never did snap: had trust enough to host musical sessions round at theirs, and – just me and John, for the record – to record a couple of numbers even; my cousin at just twelve, thirteen, already a keyboard wizard – still is and now with a talented troupe of his own – and me thrashing tremulously on Buckaroo. Laid down on a hissing C30 two self-penned tracks under the name of ‘The Movement’ – chosen for our recording habits that were lavatorial in genre, rather than anything po-facedly polemical (that would come later), for we were both more concerned with things remaining just as they were than pressing for movement in any direction – perpetually more ‘steady on’ than ‘rock on’.

Naturally I still have the cassette…

Peter Saville has no idea how close he came to being replaced as New Order's designer. Deliberately no mention of the music or songwriting quality, and I've no plans to air these two instrumentals anytime soon. Suffice to say that the guitar playing and accompanying drum machine create a skilful approximation to the noise that someone running for a bus might make - including internal worrying sounds.

Peter Saville has no idea how close he came to being replaced as New Order’s designer. Deliberately no mention of the music or songwriting abilities in this memoir, and I’ve no plans to air these two extraordinarily titled instrumentals anytime soon. Suffice to say that my guitar playing and the accompanying drum machine’s efforts create a skilful approximation of the sound of someone with a nervous condition running for a bus.

And that’s as far as it got for me and electric guitars (until fifteen years later when I invested in a real fake Fender and joined a work-based band – but that’s another story), for I was not an electric guitarist then, and I knew, I felt, I had not been born one.

The guitar itself, that tensely repaired model, has an uncertain, unknown-to-me ending. And this, here, comes as a confession to our John who I’ll nudge to have a read:

I left it in a rented room in Reading, Berks, hid behind a wardrobe, in the summer of ‘87. A booby-trap for someone after me.


*Good name for a book.

© Copyright, Steve Mitchell and Fisher Lane, 2013


About Stevie Mitchell

I come from a long line of cartoons and beer. I was once peed on by a tiger. Hoping the resultant super-powers are yet to come, cos if these are they, then, grrrr....
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