SO what does it feel like to be a rock god? That’s the question I was asked after Jam To-morrow’s first concert.
"I don’t know," I said. "But if I find one, I’ll ask him."
You’ll not have heard of the band Jam To-morrow, because it is just two guys, colleague Pete Barrow and myself, strumming and twanging and making up songs which, last week, we played to a few friends, people we felt could be trusted not to be too critical.
I would love to think that Jam To-morrow will become a name with which to conjure in the days to come, but I’m not holding my breath. Two middle-aged hacks with the joint charisma of a pond snail are unlikely to break like a storm into the world of pop, carrying all before them.
We didn’t make the best impression on stage at the Monkey Club in Armitage Bridge. Having spent the afternoon setting up a public address system, balancing our amps and mikes and tuning our guitars, we found by the time we switched everything back on for the concert in the evening, it had all got out of kilter.
Our amateur ‘roadies’ looked on helplessly as we made the sound of flies buzzing in a bottle in half a dozen different keys, alternating with the sound of howler monkeys on acid.
What I have found is that rock gods, like divinities themselves, are a rare phenomenon. You don’t become one by standing in front of an audience and playing a bit of guitar. Though it has to be said that the guitar has become the instrument of choice for those aspiring to the divine in the rock world.
Odin had his hammer, Mercury his winged feet, but for Clapton, Hendrix and Santana, it’s the six-stringed device known as an ‘axe’ that gets one into the musical Promised Land.
No, you have to be aged 19, have the looks and body of Adonis, and the confidence to throw yourself about the stage as if the X Factor is beneath your notice and Simon Cowell is just a prat whose opinions don’t matter and who should be begging you for your autograph.
Confidence is the big thing. I liken popular music to a kind of confidence trick, a game of smoke and mirrors, and this is not just sour grapes. Even if it were, Pete and I would turn them into jam. Pete and I know how these things are put together. We know that you don’t necessarily have to have a good voice.
We know that being able to play an instrument gets you into a club with millions of members but does not make you a star. We know that knowing a few chords and riffs and having a bit of a way with rhyming couplets is not going to get you into any hall of fame. In fact it’s unlikely to get you into the foyer.
Some of the world’s most iconic songs have a chord structure that a child of four could master and lyrics that would make Dundee poet William Topaz McGonagall’s stuff look like Poet Laureate material.
But for Pete and me, it’s the playing that’s fun.
There’s pride to be taken in the fact that we have written a couple of dozen songs together in little over a year.
A number of people said we were ‘brave’ to put on a concert. Well yes, I suppose we were. Does this comment come into the category of damning with faint praise? I don’t care, and neither does Pete.
The notion of jam to-morrow, by the way, is that of an unfulfilled promise. It comes from the Lewis Carroll book Through The Looking Glass.
"I’m sure I’ll take you with pleasure!" the (White) Queen said. "Two pence a week, and jam every other day."
Alice couldn’t help laughing, as she said, "I don’t want you to hire me – and I don’t care for jam."
"It’s very good jam," said the Queen.
"Well, I don’t want any jam today, at any rate."
"You couldn’t have it if you DID want it," the Queen said. "The rule is jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day."
Our next stop is a recording studio. Laugh if you must.
THE Grammar Corner gets a little shirty this week.
We have probably all seen a number of variations of the word ‘T-shirt’. They are likely to include t-shirt, teeshirt, tea shirt and tee-shirt.
The word is nothing to do with golf and is not an abbreviation for t(extile) or t(ravel). Neither is it something you wear specifically for drinking tea.
The T refers to its short-sleeved shape.
Gordon Balmforth of Dog Kennel Bank says he heard a monstrous misuse of English on BBC’s Ten O’Clock News recently.
Presenter Huw Edwards was commenting on the failed attempt to assassinate the Indian Prime Minister, who was not in his car at the time it was attacked. Mr Edwards, at the end of the piece, referred to "the car that usually rides him."
The mental picture of that, says Mr Balmforth, was mind-boggling.
WHEN a blood clot forms in the vessels leading to the brain, blood can cease to feed parts of the brain and those parts can die.
Alternately, a blood vessel in the brain can burst and the pressure of the blood on the brain tissue can damage that part of the brain. This is called a stroke.
Most of us know about strokes and the damage and despair they can cause. But I think most people believe that damage is irreversible, and that we have to live with the consequences. It’s an act of God, just one of those things.
Not so, according to an email that has come my way.
Apparently if you can get the victim to a neurologist within three hours, they can totally reverse the effects.
The trick is to recognise that a stroke is what’s happened.
Here’s the answer to that, according to my email: take the first four letters of the word stroke as a mnemonic.
S is for Smile. Ask the suspected victim to smile.
T is for Talk. Get the victim to speak a simple sentence.
R is for Raise both arms.
O is for Open wide and stick out your tongue. If the tongue sticks out crooked, there is a strong possibility your person has had a stroke.
Indeed, if the victim has any difficulty at all with any of the above tasks, call 999 immediately and explain what’s happened.