You have to overcome that sneaky weasel that whispers ‘don’t bother, you can’t do it.’ So, I dusted off the acoustic and tried a few chords. Quite surprising actually. I’d fully expected the problem area to be on the right, because that’s where the embolism was; the arm itself gets tired and aches, and the fingertips feel permanently sore, and my grip isn’t as strong as it used to be. So I’d guessed that gripping a plectrum and vigorously strumming, with my right hand and arm, would be the problem area.
Not a bit of it. Well, yes, the gripping bit is a bit unreliable, but I’ve found a nifty thumb-pick which mostly solves that. (Rog, you were more than half right. Another symptom is that the extremities are susceptible to the cold.) And the strumming muscles need toning up.
No, the problem area is my left hand. To be precise, the fingertips. They need to get hardened up. When I first played the guitar, at age fifteen, we used to use surgical spirit to toughen them up, but I’m not going to go that far. I did ten minutes Wednesday evening, twelve Thursday, fifteen Friday, fifteen tonight. Should be all right on the night.
The family singsong is in fact going to be a bit more than that. They’ve apparently invited about twenty people for Boxing Day lunch – you have to admire these people’s energy levels and dedication, even while recognising that they’re quite mad – and I guess singing will commence about six p.m. All that suits me; it’s much easier to control a crowd of twenty than one of eight. Appropriate quantities of anaesthetic will have been applied. (I gather it’s a fairly acceptable Argentine Malbec this year.) The format will be as usual: Green Green Grass, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, my party piece (usually Got You Under My Skin), then I’ll invite requests and we’ll do part of American Pie as a finale. Should be over in seventy minutes max.
(I’ve just realised that the post title is wrong – I’m off to Dorset for three days tomorrow, and won’t be taking the guitar.)