My guitar broke! The bridge that holds the strings in place ripped right off, and the man at the music shop said it isn’t really fixable. I bought it at a charity shop last Autumn, and I have been teaching myself how to play, by working my way through a “John Denver’s Greatest Hits” music book. I have a good handful of tunes in my repertoire now, so I’m sure you can imagine how devastated I was.
Naturally, I signed onto my faithful Freecycle account, and posted a message- “WANTED: GUITAR PLEASE”. I explained my musicless situation. The next day a lady wrote to me and said that she had 2 guitars that I could have! She said she was moving house and they just weren’t getting used. We made a plan, and the next day I cycled my bike trailer down to Yelverton to meet her. She was lovely, and she gave me 2 very nice classical guitars. I gave her some home made chutney as a token thank-you. I say thank-you for most things these days with some jam or chutney concoction.
I cycled home with my lucky prize, and have spent the last 2 weeks playing one guitar when I’m upstairs, and the other when I’m downstairs. What a life of Freecycle luxury! Then, a few days ago I was walking out of the market, and I said to my daughter, Matilda, “Listen. Can you hear that music? There must be a band!” We walked round the corner to get a better look at the band, and found a teenager sat on the floor, playing guitar like there was no tomorrow. He was hitting it like a drum, at the same time as playing it. He reminded me of an old friend, Jake Morley, who is a musician with a very similar style. He was a one man band, and he was incredibly talented. I gave Matilda some coins to drop in his case, and he looked up from his big knitted hippy hat. His glasses were as thick as the neck of his guitar, and they were held together with blue tac. His guitar looked like it was older then him, and was duck-taped together. He invited us to hang out and listen, so we sat down on the floor, and listened. Matilda took her wellies off and started skipping and dancing around us, like it was a mini festival in the middle of Tavistock.
When he finished his song, we got chatting. His name is Vince, and he is 19. He lives in Princetown, about 10 miles away, up on the moors. I told him I was teaching myself guitar, and he asked me to play something on his. I’ve only played to an audience once before, and they were friends, so this was a big step up for me. I played “Rhymes and Reasons” on his twangy guitar. It felt good to play outside, in the sunshine, with an audience. I sang too quietly, and Vince told me to sit up straighter and really push my voice out. He said if I wanted, we could busk together sometime, and he would teach me more. Without meaning to sound too eager, I asked if he was free tomorrow.
Tomorrow came, and Matilda packed all her bells into her bag. We cycled into town and found Vince in the same spot, looking ready to jam. The plan was that I would play whatever I knew, and he would improvise, following my lead. He made me sound good! “Country Roads” rocked out, followed by “I’m leaving on a jet plane” and my only Bob Dylan song, “Ramona” (I’ve been trying to open my mind to other song writers). It was so much fun, and Matilda was a little star, dancing around with her bells on. Vince taught me how to tap my guitar in-between strumming, and some basic blues chords. People tipped us like they had no idea that we were just hanging out and having a bit of fun.
Vince told me he really wanted to move to Tavistock, but that it’s really hard to find places to rent that accept housing benefit. My mind was going into overdrive at this point. I had been thinking of going to visit my family over the weekend, back in the East country. However, I didn’t have anyone to look after my 6 chickens. I asked Vince if he would like to house sit for me over the weekend, and look after my chickens. Then I asked him if he would like to help me renovate my piggery and he could rent it from me….I know this sounds a bit bizarre, but he was lovely, and my gut instinct told me I could trust him. He seemed really excited. It meant that he wouldn’t be reliant on the expensive and infrequent buses in and out of Princetown. I wouldn’t charge any more rent then housing benefit would cover, so he wouldn’t have to worry about payments at all. He could have his own separate space and still have use of my house.
We finished busking (we made a very exciting £10), and walked back to my house. I introduced him to my girls, and told him which shops would give him free food “for the chickens”. I got the sofa bed out for him, and gave him a key for the house and my second guitar. Who needs 2 guitars?! Then I got on a bus to Plymouth, and took the train back East to see my family.
My family think I’m mad, but it’s just Permaculture. I think its a good example of how I apply the ethics of People Care and Fair Shares to my life. It’s also a good example of the principle of Beneficial Relationships. Trusting Vince is going to work out to be really great for both of us. It will be financially beneficial for both of us, he will get to move to Tavistock, and I won’t have to worry about my chickens when I need to stay away over night. I like to live with other people, and I think it’s important to have company. He is vegetarian and he plays guitar – what more could I ask for?