Ray holds a music festival every year.
It is a barbecue really, although it is a bit like a music festival as there is a band, most of the Village turn up and there is only one toilet. I have not actually been before, due to prior engagements, but he is keen for me to be part of it as we sit and chat in the Village Pub.
The concept is simple. Ray is friends with a guitar player who is extremely well-renowned in the world of guitar playing. Knowing every song that has ever been written, ever, Eric (as I will call him (although his name is not really Eric (although this could be an elaborate double-bluff))) plays whatever people want to hear with incredible virtuosity, holding the whole thing together whilst other people who can play an instrument join in with whatever they can. It has worked really well for the past few years – you regularly hear people talking about when they saw Eric play.
I am always a bit doubtful about playing in public, even though I did once play a gig supporting the Sultans of Ping FC, so I have seen a slice of the big time in the past. But I am keen to play with Eric, and there will be beer there, and food supplied by Len the Fish. An additional attraction of this year’s event will be a bloke from the Archers who plays the banjo.
“I’ve not really played for ages and ages,” I explain cautiously.
Ray waves away my fears and buys me another pint of Woodfordes Doubtremover. I am comforted by this, and the next one, and the ones after that and soon we are going into a detailed plan of what we are going to do musically: mainly throw in a few odd notes and let Eric do the rest. Perhaps we will also incorporate some anecdotes from the man from the Archers who plays the banjo. Our options are endless.
Some weeks later, I am looking at a big crowd of people.
From the side, I can see my guitar propped up amongst lots of other gear in the makeshift stage/gazebo arrangement. At the back, the drummer of a major-label-signed band is fiddling with his snare. There is a sort of joyous air of expectation amongst the crowd.
Ray taps me on the shoulder.
“I need a quick word?” he says.
To be continued…