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Saturday, 9 November 2013

Concepts of cool

"You can't make me!" I cry several hours later, when Molly has gone to bed and Iain and I have been relaxing for half an hour to blues and rock from his eclectic collection.

"Just a couple of tunes," he'd told me at the start. "I got to be up at six to get to work. No more all-night sessions for us, I'm afraid."

So first he'd played the Abbey Road cover by Booker T. "Not a band I ever listened to," I say, as they're swinging it on Come Together. "But they're good."

"Steve Cropper on guitar," he says. 

"Remind me," I say. 

"Booker T and the M.G.'s, Derek and the Dominos, Blues Brothers," he says. "Voted greatest living guitar player in 1996 by Mojo magazine."

Next we get Black Cat Bone by the Nimmo Brothers from Glasgow, followed by Seasick Steve and John Paul Jones, first with Dan Magnusson on drums and then Dave Grohl. 

Then he springs it on me. "You got to hear this," he says innocently. 

"What?" I say.

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps on the ukulele."

"No!" I cry. "I don't want George Formby in the same part of my brain as one of my favourite Beatles numbers."

It's not George Formby," he says. "It's Jake Shimabukuro."

"I don't care if it's Jake and Elwood Blues," I say. "I don't want to hear a ukulele. I'd rather listen to a sex-crazed cat playing the kazoo."

"You can be very opinionated," he says. "Shut up and listen."

Sure enough as soon as I hear the sound this Jake's getting from his uke, I'm sold. "That's cool," I say. "Wouldn't it be nice to be that good? You played something when we were young. What was it?"

"Truant," he says.

"Something else," I say as a distant memory niggles. "I got it. You played the cello."

"I did not," he says.

"You did. I saw you at a school service once, sawing away like a pre-pubescent Pablo Casals."

"Bugger me, you're right," he says, as his own delinquent neurons connect. "My mum sent me to cello lessons for a year. I gave it up because it wasn't cool."

"And joined the chess club, I remember. You had no clear concept of cool then, did you?"

"See nobody taught you stuff like that," he says. "It should have been obvious that playing guitar got you girls. Hell, even the drummer pulls, once in a while."

"Mostly weird women though, with blue hair and snake tattoos, who only want you for meaningless sex."

"I can see that would be tough for a man of your moral rectitude," he says. "Point is they shouldn't have been teaching us maths and Latin in secondary school. They should have been teaching us how women work."

"First-year could have been chat, dating and foreplay instead of algebra, geometry and trig," I say. "Art would have been life drawing. In geography we'd have learned where to find the G-spot."

"Women didn't have one then," he tells me. "Well they did but nobody called it that. They gave it that name a few years later, after a German doctor called Gräfenberg." 

"Cunning linguists," I say. 

"That would have been second-year," he says.

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