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from the FPG Chronicles / the Resonator

Born without a clue. A lifetime later, situation largely unchanged. Nevertheless, one perseveres.....


Nick - the Resonator

About the middle of that second summer an associate of mine in the local Labour Party got wind of my musical trysts and suggested I might like to contact his son who was “a very good guitar player”. I thought, yeah right but, to be polite, said “Sure, tell him to contact me.”

At the time I was playing with a very nice but sleepy kind of guy called Des. He was keen on the FPG idea but probably an even worse guitar player than me. At one of the East Anglian fairs, outside my FPG van and field headquarters, Des and I were getting our gear out in preparation for another night of patrolling. I was kneeling on the ground when I heard a soft voice saying “Are you Martin?” I looked up to see what looked like a slightly disheveled member of the cherubim with blue eyes and long curls coming out from under a brimmed hat.

“Yes,” I said.

“I’m Mark’s son, Nick” he added.

“Oh,” I said, perhaps a little dismissively.

“He said you were looking for a guitarist,” he went on. I glanced sideways at sleepy Des who I think bristled slightly.

“Have you seen us play?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Can you play as good as me?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Well," I said, "that’s not very good is it?”

“Well actually,” he said, “I can play a whole lot better than you.”

I looked up at him again from my kneeling position. Even kneeling, I was almost as tall as him, and he must have been ten or more years my junior. He looked as bright but as frail as a large candle flame.

“Show me,” I said and handed him my guitar. He immediately flashed through a series of licks which took my breath away. Even Des was alert enough to be totally gob-smacked. Stunned into silence, I eventually asked where he was living. Still at his Dad’s of course, but near enough to make it to mine. I asked him if he’d like to pop round in the course of the following week and he said okay.

Des and I carried on with our patrol into the night, but my mind was predominantly elsewhere.

Nick showed up at my place the following week and more or less lived on the sofa for the rest of the year. His guitar playing seemed effortlessly other-worldly. He found a place in all the songs I knew (which had taken me months to build up) in a mere matter of minutes. The lead breaks became songs in themselves - not showy or egotistical, but beautifully complementary, contributive, supportive, empathetic. It turned out that he had seen the FPG at work a few times; mostly in a state of enstonement and in proximity to a campfire. He’d been subjected to the quiet, subliminal approach, the (to him) laid back presentation, and the (to him) magical backing off into the night. He told me that he and his pals had often turned to each other a few moments afterwards to say, “Did that really happen?”

So, quite apart from his heavenly gift, he had the added advantage (which I never had) of being on the receiving end and was therefore also fully tuned in to the nuances of the artistic intent.

Des and I were booked to play Glastonbury that year so, Des’s discomfiture notwithstanding, I invited Nick to come along. He was over the moon at the idea and off we set.

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© 2020 Deacon Martin

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