Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Memories of Kapok

D Chord, my favourite.
THE guitar was one of the first instruments I learnt to play from friends. Before I progressed to chords, I was just picking out tunes. I can play by ear, so I could pick out tunes quick easily. But it wasn't fun enough doing just that. And my friend, Margaret, could strum quite well.

She showed me a song book from the "100 songs" series -- you know, those thick books with lyrics and chords, and charts at the back?

"OK, just learn these chords first, C, D, G and A. Ok, G7 too. Good chord. Might as well learn A7, D7 and C7."

So I did. My first guitar was a "Kapok" from the Chinese Emporium. This is a Chinese brand originating from Guangzhou which has been around since 1957.  (When I started work, I splurged on a Yamaha classical guitar and took proper lessons. My teacher vomited blood over my rhythm and timing. But hey, I could play half of Romance de Amor and almost progressed to Classical Gas and Deer Hunter before I stopped.)

Anyway, back to those early lessons by my good friend, Margaret -- "You strum, strum, strum... then until here (she pointed to the place on the page of the song book) you change chord. Then strum, strum, strum...."

Granite or concrete "seats" at each of the gate pillars. These were
 common for houses, especially terraced ones built in the 50s and 60s.
It was a very truncated way of playing. And I didn't quite dare to sit on the "stone" (there were two rectangular granites at each end of the gate) outside the house -- and strum. Margaret used to do that each time she came to visit with her guitar (her brother's actually) -- her long hair falling over the guitar, and her bell bottomed legs crossed.

What were those stone seats for, if not for sitting on and strumming on the guitar in the evening -- and looking cool. All teenagers in the 70's seemed to be able to do that.

An afternote on the Kapok -- it was kaput for my Kapok when my brother used it to swing at a bully tom cat which chased our kitty into the house through the window -- two fluffed-out fur balls. A few pegs went flying as the guitar smashed against the window grills, narrowly missing the errant tom cat.

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