Terry Pratchett

Crivens! It was “Wintersmith” what done it!

Photograph of the cover of Terry Pratchett’s “Wintersmith”. Illustration by Paul Kidby copyright 2006.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’m late to the joyous party that is the writings of Terry Pratchett. I’ve just completed reading his third Tiffany Aching novel and he has leapt into  the distinguished company that is my favourite authors. Notably, he is the first male author I have included. He sits with Rosemary Sutcliff, Philipa Pearce, Joan Aiken and Ursula K Le Guin (as I said – ‘distinguished company‘).

Like Le Guin, Pratchett is able to stage epic battles that are fought and won without bloodshed or with very little bloodshed (the way that Tiffany Aching deals with the Wintersmith is a fine example) and he writes about the finiteness of human existence with rare beauty and a certain kind of poetry (the passing of Granny Weatherwax in “The Shepherd’s Crown” is beyond simply moving). And he loves people but hates injustice, that is crystal clear.

Tiffany Aching is a heroine very much in the mould of Joan Aiken’s Dido Twite though far more introspective with her first, second and third thoughts to guide how she acts and reacts. As a Pratchett witch, she constantly puts the welfare of others before her own and strives to learn from each action she takes, often putting aside a response until she has considered alternatives . My kind of protagonist!

Of course, TP spins the narrative with many puns asides and much social commentary. I love the way has footnotes augment the main text.- my particular favourite is *’Werk’… (page 340 of my edition). He has the uncommon ability to create characters that are engaging and complex and this is true equally of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

I’m continually struck by the cinematic and visual quality of Pratchett’s storytelling. He must have imagined these novels as moving pictures, surely!

I have two more Tiffany Aching novels to read – the second and the fourth and then it’s back to the main Discworld novels for me!

But first… I shall treat myself to a reread of “Wee free Men” and “Wintersmith”… you can’t have too much of a good thing.




York Graduation

Please forgive my fatherly pride but we have just returned from the beautiful city of York where we attended our son’s graduation, he having achieved a first class honours in History. A fantastic day in all senses of the word and I have to admit to being somewhat envious of him. He returns in the autumn to begin his masters degree. Some photographs below…

Dressed ready for the ceremony and looking very much like his late grandfather.
The ‘iconic’ concrete spaceship that is the central hall at York University.
Duck of the day.

Free Lee figure and accessories @ Daz3D

Daz 3D is currently offering their ‘Genesis 2’ male figure “Lee”and many of the complementary accessories for this ‘Kung Fu’ figure for free. Even if you have no need now for the figure, you can always tuck it away in a metaphorical drawer for a rainy day.


Shaftesbury BK maintenance

I’m currently repairing / restoring my Shaftesbury Barney Kessel guitar (model 3264) and I thought I’d post some before, during and after pictures of the work on this blog.

The guitar was originally bought on the 18th of July 1972 from a store in Leeds for £86 (I have the original receipt) and is almost all still entirely original – it’s only the bridge that I’m dubious about. It is also lacking the original serial number ‘badge’ that used to sit at the back of the headstock – like most of these models.

It was built in Japan probably at the Hoshino factory alongside similar Antoria, Greco and Ibanez guitars.

I’ll return and update this post over the next few weeks / months but first a picture of my first electric guitar which caused all of this fascination with the Shaftesbury and Gibson Barney Kessel guitars in general. A short time before I bought my first BK (I’ve owned 4 over the years) with paper round money, I saw one hanging in the window of Gamlin’s music store in Cardiff, Wales and i know that Welsh comedian Stan Stennet owned a Gibson original.


Photograph of my original Shaftesbury Barney Kessel copy guitar.
Photograph of my original Shaftesbury Barney Kessel copy guitar.

A scan from an early Ibanez catalogue:

12523 ibanez

A Shaftesbury BK that I have owned previously:


PRE Work:

Picture of a Shaftesbury Barney Kessel copy guitar.
My current Shaftesbury Barney Kessel copy guitar prior to undergoing work. I have the original scratch plate ready to fit.


Headstock of the Shaftesbury guitar prior to cleaning.
Photograph showing damage around the Shaftesbury neck pickup.
Photograph of the mess that accumulated around the Shaftesbury guitar bridge. The saddles look original but not the wood of the bridge.
The back of the Shaftesbury neck pickup.
The neck block seen through the Shaftesbury neck pickup cavity and the damage around the neck pickup hole.


During work:

Photograph of quite the most gorgeous neck / headstock join. The overfill pool is visible on the right and the start of the cutting back on the left. The blob is the substance used to glue the serial plate onto the headstock, it will be gone in time.


After work:

Photograph of the neck pickup cavity after filling, painting and cutting back. I couldn’t get a red that matched the original red in the sunburst finish.
Photograph of the headstock after polishing – the greasy fingerprints aren’t in the finish but left when I re-installed the tuners.
A quick cloth wipe later…
Photograph of the back of the Shaftesbury BK headstock. The wings have been made secure though you can still see the crease where they were attached during construction.


My first electric guitar

I have just visited http://thepracticepad.co.uk bricks and mortar shop and enjoyed playing several guitars – a Tokai sunburst double bound Tele copy, a Freshman electro acoustic and a Shaftesbury Barney Kessell copy – the actual very first electric guitar I owned and which I ‘swapped’ for a CSL Tele Custom guitar with the shop’s owner back in   the (very) late 70s. The pickups, bridge and pots had been upgraded but the guitar still plays as well as it did when I first owned it.

Below is a photograph of it when I owned it. If I’d had a camera with me, I’d have asked if I could have taken a photograph as it is now.

Ah, nostalgia – it’s a thing of the past!

Photograph of my original Shaftesbury Barney Kessel copy guitar.
Photograph of my original Shaftesbury Barney Kessel copy guitar.

York in June

P1030581P1030552P1030555I didn’t get a chance to look around the lovely city of York this visit as it was spent transporting rubbish to the City’s recycling centre and emptying my son’s Uni student house. We travel up again soon for this graduation and hopefully, I can spend some time wandering around the ‘historic city’ and possibly visit some of the musical instrument stores located thereabouts. Did take a few photographs of the Minster whilst finding somewhere to eat Sunday evening.

More Pedals

Received two more foot pedals today (via Ebay) for my guitar pedalboard. Both in the same auction and both ‘manufactured’ by Tom’sLine Engineering (they are probably ‘badge engineered’ so could possibly be from the same factory as my Mooer but I’m not sure). They are an ‘Ocean Verb’ and a ‘Vintage Overdrive’. The ‘Ocean Verb’ has a shimmer option which seems to create quite a large ‘tail’ on the reverb – very nice on some settings an a little over the top on others. The ‘Vintage Overdrive’ doesn’t really have a lot of distortion but with the gain turned down and the volume turned up adds some valve character and a volume boost.

Very nice indeed.


Classic Vibe Telecaster® Custom

I tried out a couple of Squire Classic Vibe Telecaster Custom guitars today, one in PMT, Cardiff and the other in Gamlins, Cardiff. Both were very nice guitars, great value for money and the correct sound especially with a little delay and flanger (MXR) in the signal path. Just right for my Andy Summers phase!  Arriving home, I realised I can get exactly the same sound with the phase switch engaged on my Ibanez Blazer BL350 but it would be nice to have the correct ‘look’. I thought I might try to sell off some more of my unused guitars and spend the money on one of these ‘Teles’.

I also tried out a Japanese built Fender Telecaster® Custom too (in PMT) but it didn’t feel as easy to play, the action was a little higher and the neck felt a little larger.

As a slight aside, I hope the two musical instrument stores and any other still operating in South Wales (and elsewhere) can continue to operate but the customer base seems to be shrinking.

Chinese made Fender Squier Telecaster® Custom