Time is on my side, for a while

As far as I can remember, it was the Dalai Llama who said if a man couldn't slay two birds with one stone, then he really wasn't much chop.

How true.

I spent years slaying one bird with one stone and it got me precisely nowhere.

But in recent times I have widened my slaying base, and I can now slay twice with the same stone in the twinkle of an eye.

Wisdom? Lateral thought?

Call it what you will, I am jubilant for what it has done for my life.

The grandchildren appear to be musical.

Both of them.

An ageing Technics electronic keyboard has been set up in their lounge, and often I see them dabbling and bashing away on it.

Far more impressive is the younger one, Jude, and his delightful improvised tinkling on the piano at our own house, where he plays with sensitivity and metronomic funk, not using the keyboard as a percussive battle weapon as he did a year ago.

A born musician I would say.

They both sing as easily as they breathe, and the older one, Rowan, is exhibiting musical taste at 9 I did not accede to until I was 23.

His current song to be played over and over is the Pogues' The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

''I should warn you about this,'' he said to the 10 kids assembled for Jude's 6th birthday party last week as they began pass the parcel, ''this song is about war.''

Music, then, now has them both in its sensual grip.

It is time to buy them a guitar.

Concomitantly, it also became time for me to buy a guitar for myself, the second bird.

I had recently exhumed the Les Paul Gibson copy, tuned it to an open chord, whanged a battery in my effects pedal, wired everything up to my lovely little Marshall amplifier, and laid down some searing Louisiana bottleneck blues, almost blowing up my smartphone's voice recorder in the process.

And this was true bottleneck, a scary-looking neck carved and filed smooth from an (empty) bottle of Lion Brown way back in the 1970s when I inexplicably harboured the belief I could perhaps become a bluesman.

However, very small hands kept me from guitar glory, and a spectacular career involving stadiums of nongs holding up two-fingered fists, platinum discs, tall thin models and drug rehab was sadly set aside.

But it may not be too late.

In the process of researching half and three-quarter-sized guitars for the boys, I discovered a raft of undersized copies of legendary models - to the non-guitarist, model shape is all - and I quickly obtained a Stratocaster copy, perfect for both learning children and a man with very small hands.

I was very, very excited.

I am, after all, younger than the Rolling Stones.

Time is on my side.

Nobody will notice it is only a half guitar, because I am only a half myself.

This is called perspective.

And if I fail to cut the mustard, then the boys will get a great Christmas present which will change their lives.

The truncated Strat is called a Mannix and it cost just $84, what I would spend on coffee in a week.

There was one comment on Google about Mannix guitars.

It said they were a load of rubbish.

But if people went around believing Google, then they'd be in a pretty pickle, wouldn't they?

So, for the first time in my life, I can physically dominate a guitar, like Hendrix used to with his huge fingers and huge hands.

Up until now, guitars have been big, unclimbable things.

Had I been in bands, I would have been forever calling over to the bass guitarist, hey, could you give me a hand with this?

Bass guitarists are always good at lifting.

Best of all, the Mannix doesn't go out of tune when I stomp up the fretboard with an Alvin Lee face.


Six months until Christmas.

It will be interesting to see who finishes up with this guitar.

• Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

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