If you will indulge me for a moment whilst I amble a few metres down memory lane I would like to offer some context on how I became the owner of a Shaftesbury Model 3264 guitar.
Around 1976/77 I was playing cornet in our school band. This was something that resonated in the family circle as I was following in the hallowed footsteps of my paternal grandfather. He and his four brothers had played in our local silver band for many years and he really was a top class cornet player. At one point during his tenure the band finished 3rd in the world silver band championships.
Alongside the cornet I began learning to play guitar when a friend of mine was given an instrument by his father. The guitar in question was an Epiphone Texan acoustic and an awful lot better than the cheap 3/4 size Spanish gut string that I had acquired. Mine was an unloved Christmas present belonging to my brother. It closely resembled an egg-slicer and was made from firewood but I had no point of reference and we all have to start somewhere.
I worked through Bert Weedon’s “Play in a Day” for months on end. I learned some Shadows tunes in broad daylight and added the odd Paul Anka song to impress the girls. Soon people began to take a little notice of my development.
Now in a strange segue I’m going to announce that my Granny’s cousin was married to a second hand car sales man. And as you allow your prejudice to well up within you I can say that he was one of the loveliest people that I have ever known and I miss him dearly. Significantly he played 3rd cornet in the local silver band and given my now senior status in the school band he was keen that I move to the next level. It must be said that I in equal measure was keen to avoid that scenario as I had discovered punk music and dreamed of playing in a rock band.
My Dad and I happened to be visiting the gentleman in question one summer’s evening. At first they took turns, then worked in concert to persuade me to follow my destiny and become a serious cornet player in the aforementioned local silver band. I protested that my interest now lay in becoming a guitar player.
“Do you have an electric guitar”? he asked. “Not yet”, I said. “I do”, he replied. He continued wryly, “I’ll sell it to you at a good price if you come to band practice with me next Tuesday”.
The guitar was promptly produced from another room. A double cutaway archtop with two gleaming humbucker pickups shimmering like an oasis at the heart of an Arabian sunset. I was hooked! “How much would that be”, I stammered, “£16,” he said, “and worth every penny”. The postscript was delivered with his trade mark and inimitable cheeky smile.
The price was well beyond my reach but suddenly my Dad stepped in and offered to buy it for me. The deal was done. I was contracted to attend band practice the following week and he gave me a £1 note back as a “luck penny”. My heart was thumping in my chest, I was elated.
When we got to Dad’s car he asked, “Are you happy”? “I am delighted Dad thanks so much”. “No problem” he said, “now give me that £1”.
1980 – Me as a cornet player out standing in my field