This Sunday is Father’s Day in the UK. It is also one year to the day that I lost my Dad to cancer. I hadn’t experienced a loss of that magnitude until last year and so in many ways it has been the most difficult of my life. It’s fair to say that not a day has passed since then that I haven’t been lost in thoughts about him. It’s a long road, one that nobody can prepare you for and few people can fully appreciate without experience. I am grateful to all of the people who were there for me at the time, and all of those who have since offered a kind word or just asked how things were.
When I was about 18, I remember visiting a guitar shop in Liverpool called Micro Music. It was on Smithdown Road. It isn’t there anymore as far as I know. My Dad loved to be around music and so we often went to guitar shops together. On this particular occasion, I picked up an acoustic guitar made by Avalon, the same people behind the high end Lowden range, which are tremendous instruments. This guitar was just under £500, but it was probably the nicest guitar I had ever played up to that point. It felt like silk and rang like a Christmas bell. My Dad was a risk taker. He’d have gone for it. I was flat broke at the time and decided against it. Since then I have often regretted not buying it. Who knows what songs might have been written with such a fine guitar?
My Dad and I were very close. We hung out together. We listened to music together. We toured together with my band and travelled to America together near the end of his life. In fact, in a couple of weeks, i’ll be back in New York for the first time since that trip. That will be bitter-sweet, but i’m lucky in the sense that I have no regrets about our relationship. We were there for him all the way, and he us.
A couple of days ago, a guitar dealer got in touch with me and offered me the same model Avalon guitar I played all those years ago for less than I would have paid back then. I don’t think that model has even been available for a decade. When they’ve cropped up on eBay, they’ve gone for a grand or more. This time I seized the opportunity. It arrived a few hours ago and I have it in my hands now. It sounds great. I will be playing my new guitar this Father’s Day and thinking of him.
I named this post ‘Avalon Landing’ for a few reasons. Firstly, I decided to write this blog as soon as the guitar landed; secondly, the guitar is pictured on my landing (!); finally, Avalon Landing is also the title of the fictional book written by William Forrester, Sean Connery’s character in the film Finding Forrester, which is the story of a young writer who learns a lot from an older mentor. Seemed apposite.