For years I'd believed that my most precious musical instrument was my battered, much-repainted and rewired 1964 Fender Telecaster. I suppose it still is - certainly in monetary terms, probably as an emotional trigger too, that guitar and I have been together to song-loads of places over the stretching years since I bought it from Eddie Moore's music in Boscombe in 1965.
But a challenger for my affections has snuck in from nowhere. It comes in a brown canvas tube, with LARGE MA IV inked on the outside. This means Southbourne Prep School, about 1949. I hadn't really tried to play it since 1967, when we sat in a doorway somewhere in Calabria, jamming out of our skulls, and frightened some children (an event eerily mirrored in Bowie's song 'The Bewley Brothers', which he might have been writing at roughly the same time, a thousand miles away).
Anyway, I needed a kind of flutey sound for Captain MacKenzie to come home to, or from. Nothing on the keyboard would do the job. Last weekend I remembered the recorder, and found it sitting abandoned on a shelf in the garage. I took it out of its case and cleaned it. Took the mouthpiece off and scratched the string winding to ensure a tight fit, placed my fingers over the holes, left thumb underneath to control the octave, remembered the embouchure and the breathing, all just as I'd learnt when I was eight. Then I played the tune straight from my head into the microphone.
So that old recorder, somehow containing, unused for decades, all that old memory, deserves to be cherished too.
The poor old Tele never got a look-in on this song. Next time.