Death and guitars

To quote Twisty Faster “wait, I have a blog?

Two things happened in the last two weeks that I’m going to write about: my grandmother died and I started building a guitar.


My grandmother was a pediatric nurse and spent her entire life looking after children. When she retired from that she worked as a carer for disabled women. She died from Acute Myeloid Leukemia last Friday. It is strange how death affects people. There’s a song she sang to every child in my family, including my mum, aunt, uncle when they were young, my sisters, cousins and recently my nephew. We always called it “onga bonga bonga”. I only remember her singing us the chorus:

“Bongo bongo bongo, I don’t wanna leave the Congo, oh no no no no-no, Bingle bangle bongle I’m so happy in the jungle I refuse to go, don’t want no bright lights, false teeth, doorbells, landlords, I make it clear, that no matter how they coax me, I’ll stay right here”.

Anyway, I Googled it and discovered that the whole song is actually quite racist, in a “noble savages” socially-acceptable-in-the-1940s sort of way.It feels very strange to have such affection for something I would otherwise have felt was unacceptable. My grandmother was not racist, not in any way she ever expressed, but when she was younger phrases like “three educated savages hollered from a bamboo tree” would not have been considered unacceptable. With the nationalism surrounding the Olympics, the Jubilee and the Euro 2012 football thing, it’s been a reminder of just how close we are to a past when Great Britain ruled almost a quarter of the planet, and the glory of the British Empire was something to be proud of.

When I heard someone commenting on the Olympics say “Britain is great once again” after we won another medal, I just thought clearly we’ve forgotten what that actually means.

and Guitars

On to cheerier stuff, I’ve started making a guitar. In what is no doubt going to be, or possibly already is an emerging trend coming soon to the streets of shoreditch, I’ve started building a cigar-box guitar from a piece of maple and, well, an empty cigar box. Here’s some pics.

The cigar box and the maple neck beneath.

The 2×1 maple neck with the lid-notch chiseled out. That took AGES.

Closer side-view of the lid-notch.

Cigar box body with neck-notches cut out. I cut them a bit too deep so I’m going to need to use the cut-outs as spacers.

Neck sitting flush against the lid. Below you can see the spacer. Need to cut the headstock next.

Will update with more pics as it the build progresses. In the mean time, here’s some cool cigar-box slide blues.