Christmas was only a month ago, and already it seems like a dim, distant memory. But its legacy lives on at Shoogly Towers, where one extremely inspired Chrimbo prezi makes an almost daily appearance. Sonically.
Yes, it is something which makes a sound, rather than just an appearance. It is a ukulele. Cue the George Formby jokes. Which would not be strictly correct, as George favoured the banjo ukulele, a kind of hybrid instrument. The love child of a ukulele and a banjo, if you like.
It all started with a ‘music specialist’, which for those outwith the know, is a person who delivers the music lessons in primary school in lieu of a music teacher, the possession of which tends to be the preserve of high schools.
Well, the music specialist who went to the Young Mistress’s school last autumn was fab. She played guitar and ukulele and taught them songs from different countries, including a Gaelic song and an old Maori song.
Some of the older ones in the class got to learn how to strum a few bars on the ukulele and they accompanied the singers. The fire had been out. The YM was entranced by these cute, ‘mini guitars’. It was great to see and hear them all performing, having learned about 10 songs (and ukulele accompaniment) in around 11 weeks.
However, with the performance just before Christmas, it didn’t leave Santa long to get sorted, if those of you over 10 know what I mean. Anyone under 10, don’t read this! And if you just have, don’t show it to your parents because I don’t want to be blamed for wrecking Chrimbo.
Anyhoo, Santa got his skates on (or should that be ice-skates on, as after all, it was Chrimbo), and struck lucky. A week of two before Chrimbo, Lidl had drum machines, keyboards and... Yep, you guessed it, ukuleles. Hurrah! So it became one of Papa’s prezis to his grand-daughter.
Not only did it get played relentlessly on Christmas Day until its strings were almost worn out, but it has been played almost every day since. Sometimes twice a day. It even went round to the lovely Yvette’s on a play date, as both her boys are musical (guitar and trombone), and one of them started out playing a ukulele.
It is now hopelessly out of tune, but a You Tube clip of Eddie Vedder (font man of the 90s grunge band, Pearl Jam, and unlikely ukulele champion) playing the uke whilst sitting on a rocky outcrop with waves crashing about him, had fuelled the enthusiasm. I am not so sure that a You Tube clip of Mr Formby would have had the same effect, but maybe that’s just me judging her by my own extremely low standards.
I have always had a soft spot for Mr Vedder who, I must say, for a man of (just) over 50 is not looking too shabby. I don’t think I could have said that about George Formby ever, no matter what age he’d been.
Anyhoo, back to the YMs uke. I am half-expecting her to paint the legend ‘This machine kills fascists’ on it, a la Woody Guthrie, and start coming out with some Dylan-esque vocals. She already has the extremely long hair and eclectic dress sense to go along with the hippy chic, singer-songwriter image. And for someone of eight and a half, a ukulele is much easier to handle than a full-size guitar.
And like her dress sense, her song choices are very eclectic too, from Star Wars to Rihanna and Christmas carols.
No genre is safe from a good mangling. All she needs now is a clue how to play, before someone here gets so fed up of the darn thing they do a Pete Townshend on it. Some lessons.
So if anyone knows of someone who can teach ukulele, please, please, please get in touch.
The ears of all Shoogly Towers’ residents are depending on you!