Playing the acoustic

This all seems very haphazard today – a blurred photograph of a page from John Barlow’s ‘Waiting for the Seventh Wave’ and the desire to say, quickly and concisely, why I’ve not been blogging so much recently. I’ll start with the haiku. ‘Midday silence’ … something I rarely get Monday to Friday working in as a TA in a busy Infants’ school. Then there’s those fingerprints – the ghost of a past player, or proof that the guitar is regularly picked up and played? I like the ambiguity. And the reason I chose a guitar poem? Because that’s what has been taking up so much of my spare time lately.

Two years ago I bought a guitar, having never played an instrument before in my life. I’d had it in my mind for some time and kept telling myself I’d do it when I retired. As I say, that was two years ago and I’m still working! I think I came to realise that there’s no point waiting for the ‘right time’ because there never is a right time. So, I bought my guitar. Five minutes a day was all I could give it in those first few weeks – any more and my fingers were sore and aching. Gradually though, I started spending longer playing it. I had some lessons. Lockdowns came and went, interrupting the lessons but giving me more time to practise (I never resorted to online lessons – I prefer it to be in person). Lessons restarted and I realised that I’d practised both good habits and bad so a lot needed ironing out. Of course, the longer I spent on the guitar the more other hobbies fell by the wayside. Not the poetry though, not until this summer that is.
School summer holidays are a dream come true. 6 weeks paid leave; the pay for a teaching assistant is miserably low, but all the same, time verses money – there’s no contest. Anyway, this summer I went back to the music shop where I bought my first instrument, booked a private appointment for an hour and ended up staying three, and came home with the most gorgeous, deep-toned instrument that should keep me going for a few years to come. I realise that I’m becoming a guitar geek but I can live with that. I’ll never be a great player but I can live with that too because like most things I get involved with, it’s the ‘doing’ that I enjoy most. And I still enjoy ‘doing’ poetry, but when you give your time to one thing, something else has to give. So recently, the new guitar has been taking up most of my time. I’ve not abandoned haiku, but having prioritised my interests, the blog has suffered a bit. So, this post is just to say that I’m still here, and I’m still writing, but I’m also enjoying the sound of my new guitar (and in case you were wondering what has happened to the old one, it’s now in a different tuning so I have some new tunes and techniques to learn).
And I’m still enjoying reading whatever Snapshot Press publishes (John Barlow is not only an accomplished haiku poet but an influential figure in UK publishing). I can highly recommend his book (below) and I’ll leave you with the title poem:

evening surf …
sandpipers waiting
for the seventh wave

Snapshot Press 2006

4 thoughts on “Playing the acoustic

  1. A long time ago I bought myself a lovely small gigging guitar it’s very own gig bag. Baby Taylor. Mahogany. They do cedar topped ones that have a bright sound, but this is warm and mellow. Low action, relatively kind on the fingers. Impulse buy while I was mooching in a guitar shop in Leeds while my highly accomplished guitar playing friend bargained a price for a new guitar for his daughter (song writer like her dad). Fast forward probably 20 years. I still can’t play it. So I applaud you loudly. Stick with it. Poetry can wait. There’s probably too much of it about anyway, and much of it not very good.


    • This is such a lovely comment John and I can’t stop thinking about that Taylor, snug in its case, waiting for you to give it another go! It must have cost a small fortune but I think just owning it has given you much pleasure from the way you recall the day you bought it. Whatever noise I have managed to coax out of my guitar is entirely down to a very idiosyncratic guitar teacher, Jim, but that’s another story. Take care and hope to be able to play you a tune sometime. Julie x


    • Thanks Matthew. I must stress I’m very much a beginner – the playing gives me so much pleasure, but my husband would probably not be of the same opinion! I’m still making time for haiku, maybe not as much as I should, but it’s always a constant juggling act, isn’t it, between work and leisure (is poetry leisure – maybe). One day I hope to strike a happy balance. Julie x


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