... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Monday 26 December 2016

Boxing Day

Hope everybody's having a splendid Christmas break. I think Jim and Ricky might be hoping for a bit of a break from my squeezing and squeaking...
Thank you for all your melodeon-related comments, questions and suggestions. In order...

Halfie... Can I play it? Well, it depends on what you mean by play. I have pleasantly surprised myself, not least by rediscovering that I can read music. Not necessarily quickly or fluently, but sufficiently to work things out, in conjunction with a button layout diagram from, and a tuner app to find the low B I didn't know I had. Last Tuesday, when I took delivery of it, I worked my way through the melody of 'Poor Old Horse' (which is only a couple of lines, and doesn't have a low B, at least in the version I was using). On Friday, just before Jim arrived, I found the B and then started work on 'Hard Working Boater'. I am currently three quarters of the way through the melody; I hope to have it all fairly solid by Friday when we are going to see Sebastian and Izzi, so that they can advise me about adding chords and/or basses. I did try to find a teacher, but the only local one I could get contact details for didn't answer my email. For now I think I'm fairly happy just familiarising myself with it and working out my own fingerings, although I will no doubt form some terrible habits.

So, Cath... Playgroup sounds good, and I look to be free that weekend - are you going?

Alan... It's a German made D/G Pokerwork. I bought it without seeing it in the flesh, let alone trying it (because what would have been the point when I have no experience and no idea what feels good to me; I just knew I wanted something reasonable quality that I wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with, and the sort of music I like to listen to), sort of on impulse, albeit an impulse that had been brewing for some time, and really fermenting since the summer. So far I like it a lot; can't resist keep picking it up for another little practice.

The final impusle came about because of Bluebird breaking down... Before setting off, I'd put together a collection of randomly selected CDs for the journey, but had only just got into the second one when Bluebird refused to start. The change car that I came back in (Uxbridge) doesn't have a CD player, but rather than put the CDs away when I came back, I left them out to work my way through the selection. Thus two weekends ago, coincidentally just before the Herbies posted this, I found myself rediscovering this track, which is my inspiration and my aspiration. (It's from the 2011 June Tabor album Ashore but is actually just Andy Cutting with Tim Harries on double bass).  At least should I ever get to the stage of attempting it, I have my double bass player already lined up.


  1. (From a novice!)

    D/G .............. Good!
    German ........... Good!
    Choice of box .... Good!

    A solid start, I would say, but in discussing this I am just realising that for various reasons, I have failed to do any practice for 3 days now.

    And yes, barring any more family emergencies, I'm sure we will attend Playgroup.

  2. Playgroup is fantastic. I don't think that you do Facebook, but they put up a web-site nearer the event when Helena can get around to it.

    The Friday evening is a session - with people of all levels joining in - worth going to for inspiration. This is a video of the very much smaller event at the first ever Playgroup: (the tune is Galopede)

    Also a spontaneous daytime session - I didn't know this tune, but as soon as I heard it I had to learn how to play it: (It's Theme Vannitaise - the theme music to a 1970s French soap opera - one of the most popular tunes that our morris band plays now).

    Saturday is the teaching - all done very cheaply, the teachers do it for free, any all you are paying for is your share of the cost of the barn - or the hall if you are in the 'big kids' group (for some of us it will be the 5th year). Food at the Fleece is excellent - it's a fascinating place.

    Most of us book up for the Premier Inn about 5 miles away at Evesham - then we share lifts to the venue.

    In the evening of the Saturday is usually a 'slow and steady' session lead by one of the teachers.

    On Sunday Belle D'Vain dance, and we all play for them - this is a video I took of them in February Even a brief glimpse of Alan at the end of this video.

    I hope to be able to see you there.

    You do need to be aware that every melodeon player that I have met so far is barking mad - but I see that as a good thing.

    If you can't find a tutor then are you prepared to do Skype? The excellent Melanie Biggs (one of the playgroup tutors) has students all around the world since she was persuaded to do Skype by Helena. Find her slow and steady videos here:

    She can be contacted through here:

    Or she is on FB: