"Something of a record of a world-record"

Tony Maude

Went to the world-record attempt: The most ukuleles playing together, in one place, for five minutes or so : The Sloop John B was the tune they chose. As it happens, I’ve used this song myself on many occasions, with Kids and Teens…. Everyone - as integral part of a Sea-Stories Drama, in conjunction with Odysseus, Masefield and The Ancient Mariner.

Went to Devonshire Square to see the revolution that I began - not single-handed mind you, have no fear! Twenty-five years ago, when the only cheap ukes you could get were by “Lark” – they also did: violins in all sizes, cheap and cheerful, mainly for kids

It was made way out in China, I can hear the ladies chatter And they didn’t put the frets in straight But it doesn’t seem to matter?! Maybe they made it in an afternoon And they didn’t use quite enough glue, But all you can hope is, like ourselves, It’ll play almost true. *

So! I went down to Devonshire Square to see how the “new uke revolution” was getting on – shapin’ up…. progressin’? I found: Sweet and Peaceful and “Full House” : 800 ukuleles held aloft – what exactly is this army? No shillelaghs, sabres, no AK’s?!….There was a family, just behind us in the throng, all four playing ukuleles: Mum and Dad and girl ‘bout nine, plus little lad, younger brother - the latter particularly entranced – letting the song speak through him, changing chords, correct and precisely, according to the tune’s and the story’s demands.

All the colours (and more) of the rainbow: Black to pink, orange and yellow….all these colours you could find on: Flying V’s, Tenors, Electrics, even one that could stand on its own! It had a flat base, a planed-off bottom - with its French Ukulele Owner, I watched it wobbling in the wind and - my little “Lark” was probably unique, among the 800 plus joining their voices - bought in the Eighties, re-fretted with love, companion then in a virgin land, where now a teeming city thrives and though I say it, I say it well: With this little box I made my stand, in this place where “Flowers might dwell.”

Looks like a packing case, or a place Where flowers might dwell? Or a shoe for walking in the snow?! But it is a garden It is a garden, It is a garden Where music will grow.*

* from Nina’s Guitar “Almost True” LP : Autogram – Germany © 1982

**© Tony Maude 2001 - from “My Mum Plays the Bass” - soon to be released on CD for Kids.


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