I arrived just a year before the end of World War 2 in a town called Stourport-on-Severn. My early memories are happy. We spent lots of time outdoors. Outdoors was a safe and exciting place to be. Climbing trees, damming streams, spotting birds, catching fish, raising caterpillars in jam jars: these were the things that unlocked my youthful passions. How sad to see them gone.
Guitar-playing came later, as a refuge from the horrors of boarding school in Worcester. Maybe I was 17 years old before I began strumming and singing. Elvis, Buddy, the Beatles and Bob Dylan: I strummed and sang them all. Later I discovered the more sophisticated sounds of Joan Baez, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn which led me to the world of folk music and folk clubs where I would spent many a happy bleary hour. Eventually I came to discover the wonders of the classical guitar and above all of the lute compositions of, among others, the great John Dowland and Francesco da Milano.
At Birmingham University I studied metallurgy. Officially. In reality, I spent most of my time trying to copy the folk singers and bluesmen I so admired.
I tried to be normal: management trainee, computer programmer, you name it. But I just couldn’t make sense of the workaday world and that’s how I ended up being a guitar teacher.
It’s been an interesting journey: both hard work and fun. I’m still having fun – and learning – forty nine years after the day I gave my first guitar lesson.
If you’re not learning and you’re not having fun (as well as working hard) you might as well give up.