I’m in sunny Vejer at the moment with my wife Chris. It’s nice here, and the locals are going mad enjoying their feria. With plenty of singing drinking and dancing it’s just the right backdrop to get me going…
I was watching a programme on telly a couple of years ago now about how to grow old gracefully, and keep your marbles longer, before going into full-blown old age stupidity! Angela Rippon and gang were extolling the virtues of taking up dancing, a foreign language, musical instrument, or some other hobby. Having tried the piano and realising my limited ability years ago, I told my wife I was going to take up the uke.
The next day I was in Normans Music shop in Eltham, looking at their many ukes. The shop owner was busy with one of his suppliers and eventually asked me if I wanted any help. I told him I was after a uke and he showed me a couple. He asked me who it was for. Feeling a little embarrassed, I heard myself say, “It’s for my son.”
The next question was, “How old is your son?” To which I realised, this hole is growing too big really quickly! Also realising I was now wearing Pinocchio’s Nose, at which point I burst out laughing and confessed:
“I’m sorry mate, I’m lying. It’s Angela Rippon’s fault. I’m trying to stop myself going old and stupid before my time by taking up a musical instrument!”
He had a good laugh with his supplier, then asked why a uke. To which I replied, “It’s only small with four strings. How hard can it be?”
I came out with a mahogany Freshman concert, chord book and tuner. The journey had begun. (I was about to find out how hard it could be!)
I was doing this for about a year. Then one evening my wife said she’d found a uke club on the internet called PLUC. I knew I needed help, so went along, feeling apprehensive and hoping I wouldn’t be laughed at for my obvious lack of ability.
The first night, Jeanette welcomed me and asked Colin and Bob to guide me along. They didn’t think they’d be stuck with me for this long! But I’m glad to say, they haven’t told me to get lost yet.
From the first tune that night, I knew I’d come to the right place. All the tunes were upbeat and different styles. For the first few weeks I was conscious that I couldn’t stop smiling. Everyone must have thought I was mad. I felt that I ought to be clapping everyone – it’s making me smile now writing this, thinking about it.
That first night I just didn’t realise what a great bunch of pluckers I was walking into!
Before I joined PLUC, I thought that I was practicing but I have since realised I was only playing at it. I now practice at every opportunity. I have brought a sopranino on holiday and can’t put it down. The more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know, but I know that walking into PLUC hat night was the best decision I’ve made on the uke trail.
The only side effect I wasn’t expecting is I’ve now got five ukes and I’m on the look out for that special one. I hope I find it before I end up like Rufus and Kev!
I’d like to thank everyone at PLUC for their encouragement along the way. They’re all great individuals and it’s given me the motivation to aspire to a better standard.
All the best, Dave the sub-standard plucker.
Other PLUC Tales: I Never Liked The Uke – Steve H; Long-Distance Strummer – Gail; New Uker! – Sheila; A Tale Of Two Ukuleles – Tina; The First Rule Of Uke Club… – Anthony; Ron’s Progress; Probably The Most Fun Instrument In The World… – Jos; It’s Been A Year – Part 2 – Jeanette; From Classical To PLUC – Andrew; A History Of The Ukulele – And Its Part In My Downfall – James; Santa Rides Again – Alan F; Steph’s Story; Ron’s Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome; Uncle Ron’s Legacy… – Wee Kheng; Dan’s Story; Five Years & Loving It – Simon; My Ukulele Origins… – Rufus; Why Ed Started Playing The Ukulele; Ron’s Song; It’s Been A Year… – Jeanette