News & Insights 27 February 2007

This would never happen to a guitarist…

Tuesday 27 February, 11.15am (Turnkey Music, Central London):
I am in Turnkey Music on Tottenham Court Road, looking for a new keyboard to take on our upcoming Irish tour. The first thing you need to know here is that, historically, piano players languish right at the bottom of the music consumer food chain. Anyone unfortunate enough to wander into a music shop with the misguided intention of buying a keyboard will find themselves being treated with the same level of respect you might reserve for a right-wing paedophile who shoots puppies. I have found the exact model I’m after and, having waited so long for assistance that I can feel algae starting to grow on the soles of my feet, I manage to corner a sales assistant. Here’s a rough transcript of our conversation:

Chris Lightyear: “Can I speak to your keyboard specialist?”
Sales Rep: “Sorry, what?”
Chris Lightyear: “Is there someone here who knows about keyboards?”
Sales Rep: “Erm… not really.”
Chris Lightyear: “Right, well, I’m interested in the M-Audio Keystation 61es.”
Sales Rep: “Good.”
Chris Lightyear: “Um, well, I’ve spotted you’ve got one over there and was wondering if I could try it out?”
Sales Rep: “No, sorry, it’s not set up.”
Chris Lightyear: “Oh that’s no problem, I can wait for you to set it up.”
Sales Rep: “Oh no, we don’t do that.”
Chris Lightyear: “How am I supposed to know it’s the right model for me then?”
Sales Rep: “Dunno.”
Chris Lightyear: “But you’re a music shop. This is the keyboard section. I want to try a keyboard. I want to buy it. I want to give you money and take away some goods. It’s basic capitalism.”
Sales Rep: “Can’t you tell just by looking at it?”
Chris Lightyear: “Alright, fine. In that case can I just go ahead and buy it?”
Sales Rep: “No mate, we don’t have any left.”
Chris Lightyear: “But there’s one right here! See how my hands touch it!”
Sales Rep: “Nah, that one’s not for sale.”

This went on for a little while until, presently, I battered him to death. 

This would never happen to a guitarist. In fact, this wouldn’t even happen to a jazz trombonist. I demand more respect.

Tuesday 27 February, 4pm (Lightyears HQ, Clapham Junction, London):
I have returned home, keyboard-less, to find George standing in front of a mess of wires and screws that used to be his guitar. Turns out his Roger Giffin Custom Electric Guitar – the only one of its kind in the world – is, to put it bluntly, buggered. One of the hum-bucker pick-ups has suffered a multi-fret buzz on the upper machine head, or some such guitar nonsense. Either way it’s not good. We now have no keyboard, no guitar and less than 48 hours until we have to fly to Ireland.

I call Tony, in the hope that it might improve things. It doesn’t.

“Hello mate, how’s it going?” I ask. “Not great,” Tony replies, “I’ve just found out my drum-kit is too heavy to take on the plane. Looks like we might have to lose some weight from our personal luggage – you know, not take too many clothes, or whatever”. Fantastic. The Irish Tour’s fine to go ahead provided the fans are happy to accept that we a) don’t have any instruments and b) have been forced to play naked on account of the fact that clothing has been deemed an unnecessary luxury. I mean, I know the Irish have a famed sense of humour but I think that may be asking a bit much…

Chris Lightyear

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