Monday, September 24, 2007

G7 is my enemy

On Saturday, Little Nick Stagg and I boarded a plane to London to take part in a ukulele beginner's workshop run by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

The hotel was not too far from Hampstead Heath and the weather was beautiful, so I left Little Nick at the hotel and went for a walk in the park. Armed with my newly purchased Adam Ant autobiography Stand and Deliver (when I was 12, I had an enormous crush on the man; his posters were all over my wall), I wandered around in search for a bench with a view. There were plenty.

Do you think they were after the swimmers in the mixed bathing pond?

A race course. I should have brought my trainers!

I visited Kenwood House, which hosts a nice collection of art and the entrance is free:

And on to the next beautiful view:

... that is the Isle of Dogs to the left...

... and Saint Paul's to the right...

In the evening, I met Anne Marie to discuss the filming of "Ukulele! The Movie", a film about... well, about the ukulele. It will win Anne Marie and Nick lots of important prices for "best documentary". And they had decided that I should add some cosmopolitan element by saying something in German. We agreed that Anne Marie would do the interview during the tea break of the workshop. That night I dream of Hollywood.

Sunday morning, Cecil Sharp House, home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

I found myself in a small room with about 25 other ukulele virgins. The most common reason for being there seemed to be "I got this for my birthday/Christmas/... and don't know how to play it". Hester and George, members of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, patiently explained how we should hold and - most importantly - tune our precious littles. That took us about 1 hour and brought a dawing realisation that I am a) stone deaf and b) a talent free zone when string instruments are concerned. But Hester and George are true professionals and Ukulele experts, things like that cannot deter them from their task. They taught us all the necessary technical terms, like "the thingy at the bottom" or "the bits at the top".

And then we were ready to play our first tune, "He's got the whole word in his hands", which thankfully only has two chords: C and G7. Looked easy enough on the chord sheet, but I just could not get my fingers to move quickly from one chord to the other. C was easy enough (it involves only one finger), but G7 drove me crazy! Hester and George managed to say "you are all doing very well" without being struck by lightning and on we moved to "She'll be coming round the mountain" and to a new chord: F joined C and G7 in this song. At the end of it, I had come to the firm conclusion that G7 is my enemy. Why it does not like me, I don't know.

In the tea break Anne Marie arrived to film my contribution to "Ukulele!" It could have been an Oscar performance, had I not giggled my way through it. I fear, that we lost a bit in the credibility department due to that. I tried to keep a straight face and told myself to think "Academy Awards... George Clooney handing me the golden statue..." Ah well... never mind. I cannot tell you too much about it, you will have to go and see the movie. But it involved a ukulele (surprise, surprise), antlers and science. I will be expelled from the actuarial society for the things I said.

After the break we learned three more chords and ended the course playing "Wild thing". My finger tips were hurting, but I had thoroughly enjoyed myself. G7 and I have not exactly become friends, but we are in a "live and let live" state.

I had a couple of hours before my plane left for Germany, so I wandered around London. There was a bike race going on...

I picked up the tickets for The Lilac Time concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in November and watched the boats on the river Thames.

Then it was time to go home.


At October 01, 2007 2:49 am, Blogger Rurality said...

So how was the AA book? I admit to a crush on him too, of course I was already in college so I have much less of an excuse!

Sounds like you are having fun with the Ukulele... I think you should post a sound file next.

At October 09, 2007 10:23 pm, Blogger Sabine said...

Hi Karen

AA's book is interesting. The account of his childhood is probably the best bit. He struck me as someone who needs a lot of attention and is a bit whiny (apart from his bipolar condition, of course). He mentions a number of times how he "hurt" himself (e.g. when he jumped through a sugar window for a video stunt).

Sound files will have to wait until I have made peace with G7.



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