Good-bye Monterey


Sometimes I do get tired of clients who feel that health insurance is an arrangement that entitles them to seek treatment at any hospital willy-nilly. Maybe they weren’t there during the briefing. Or if they were, maybe they weren’t really listening. Whatever it is, it gets tiresome trying to explain why you can’t really call for an ambulance to take you to the hospital for blood-test just because you feel under the weather – and expect the insurance company to pay for it all. These are moments when I get into my wishful thinking mode and dream of a long-forgotten career as a guitar player.

Yes, I was a guitar player once. But that was a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away. OK, busking at Tottenham Court tube station for what amounted to nothing more than beer money isn’t really what you might call a career. But then, I wasn’t really that great a guitar player either. Having said that, playing the guitar at London underground stations for a living was great fun. No reports to submit. No deadlines to meet. No angry customers to pacify. All that was needed was to run faster than the bobby who’s out to arrest you.

When I think of the all of those underground stations that reeked of piss and the menacing ‘skinheads’ who looked as if they were liable to bust my head open with a piece of lead piping at the drop of a hat, it seems strange that the first thing that comes to mind is my beloved (but long lost) guitar: a Washburn Monterey (thin-body), acoustic electric. That was a sweet little baby. Slap on a set of D’Addario XL Red round-wound strings and you were in business. Notes rang out crystal clear and touched your heart soft as a lover’s caress. Its rich harmonics reverberated even in your darkest recesses and brought light where none had existed before. (Lesson: when you have limited talent, it always helps to have great equipment.) So, with my trusty Washburn Monterey, I was able to crank out songs by the Eagles, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton all day without people throwing rotten vegetables at me.

Then one fateful day, while working as an assistant chef at a Malaysian restaurant in Finchley, I accidentally chopped-off part of my left index finger. Though it wasn’t a very pretty sight, my finger healed with time. Except for the half an inch (or so) that was missing, my finger looked right as rain. But when I took to playing the guitar again, it was not the same anymore. My finger hurt like the blazes every time I pressed the strings down against the guitar’s frets. And despite the hours I spent re-conditioning the finger, I never managed to get it working the way it used to. I could play for a few minutes. But anything beyond that, the pain just took over.

After about a year of trying – and failing -I resigned myself to the fact that my guitar playing days were over. For some, perhaps, this hadn’t come a moment too soon. But whatever the case maybe, and no matter who is playing my Monterey now, I hope they are taking good care of her. We had had some good times together. It’s a shame we had to part company (this doesn’t have anything to do with my injured figure, tho).

My dream of becoming a guitar player is over. It’s been over for years. Nonetheless, it still feels good to still think about it every once in a while. This way, I can still occasionally delude myself that, at some point in time, I had been an alright guitar player. Not a very good one. But not a bad one either.

Perhaps its time to pursue my other dream: to own and operate a small but intimate restaurant. With my portly figure, I’d certainly look the part of a chef. Hey, my cooking skills ain’t all that bad either. But don’t let the wife know: she’d have me slaving in the kitchen and hand-cuffed to the sink the minute she knew. And while we’re dreaming, how does a restaurant serving hearty English fare sound?

Hmmm… this deserves deeper thought. But then again, maybe I’ll think about it tomorrow.


24 thoughts on “Good-bye Monterey

  1. You certainly have had quite interesting experiences in your heydays. Whoa! Busking ? Assistant chef? That’s incredible. You are a risk taker and must be a great cook too..ha ha. I would say you should pursue your restaurant dream. Go on. When you do tell me..he he.

    Sorry to hear about your left index finger. Ouch.

  2. You’ve been a bouncer, busker, assistant chef, reflexologist … what haven’t you been ??? @_@

    Ok , I will be grateful that I can play my guitar. I will take good care of my fingers !!

  3. [class monitor]

    Yalah… pegang tet#k banyak-banyak, jari jadi keras.


    when (or if) I open the restaurant, you’ll be among the first to know.

  4. [jason]

    Let’s see, I have been a busker, assistant chef, semi-pro kick-boxer, insurance agent, karate instructor, life insurance agent, bouncer, insurance manager, IT consultant / project manager, house-husband, reflexologist, management trainer, healthcare manager. My only regret is that I was never a fighter pilot. But then, we cant have it all, can we? (-:

  5. [babe of very little brain]

    Thanks for visiting, ma’am.

    This old guitar taught me to sing a love song
    Taught me how to love and how to cry
    Introduced me to some friends of mine
    And brightened up some day
    Helped me make it thru’ some lonely night
    What a friend to have on a cold lonely night

    – This Old Guitar (John Denver) –

  6. [digital pix]

    ‘Playbuaya’? That was when I was still a virile young man. Nowadays (in my old age), I’ll be lucky if I can unzip my pants and not fall asleep while doing so.

    BTW, ‘Playbuaya’ is not an occupation, is it?

  7. Hi Old-Timer,

    I agree with Jason. Isn’t there anything you haven’t done? You’re like right out of comic book (I meant that in a nice way, OK?)

    Its a shame that you whacked your index finger, old-timer. Otherwise, I’d like to jam a few 12-bar blues with you someday.

  8. A busker? Oh man… I have a weakness for a man with instruments.

    You best remain anonymous MB. Never know what would happen if you reveal you handsome self.

    Ha ha ha ha…

  9. [samad torpedo]

    I can still handle a few bars of any blues chord progression, kid. I’ve emailed you my number. Call me and we’ll get together. After the jamming session, you can show me some of your best moves, OK?

  10. You give meaning to being a “jack-of-all-trades”. πŸ™‚

    Serve a mean roastbeef and yorkshire pudding at your restaurant, and I guarantee you a permanent blabarelling customer.

  11. I remember the days when I had to decide between keeping long nails or playing the guitar for my Christmas carolling group. Music always came first for me. Of course, my piano teacher never liked the sound of long nails on the keyboard. So, there was only so much nail that I could grow. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, on those rare occasions (like once a year!) when I played the guitar, my finger tips would be sore for a few days. So, I can imagine the pain you went through trying to play the guitar with an injury.

    If you do open an English restaurant, be sure to let me know. I will definitely make it a point to eat there when I visit Malaysia.

  12. [blabarella]

    I was thinking of making roast beef and yorkshire pudding my signature dish.

    [Anouhea Audiya]

    Yes, some bloggers are middle-aged. When we were younger, online blogging didn’t exist (-: Thanks for visiting.

    At last… someone who shares my pain!

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