Things can only get better…

Remember the defeat of John Major’s Tories, and smiley Tony Blair PM (an anagram for I’m Tory Plan B, too true as it turned out) and dancing John Prescott? Somehow, what followed will always taint my view of that song. After my last blog, the final insult took place! But since then things have picked up, with a couple of surprises that I was not expecting.

Right, Said Fred

Before that, we had high farce on Wednesday, as my landlord and his hirelings turned up to fit the replacement fridge freezer. At least I can store food now, but the whole affair was a farce, a kind of combination of “Right Said Fred” (the song not the band) and The Keystone Cops. Brian Rix would have been proud of the sheer level of farce. But they got there in the end. I now have a fridge freezer inside the cupboard made for a fitted fridge, which opens the opposite way to the cupboard, and with the door heights incompatible. But hey it works. Sorry I cannot enlighten you as to the sheer comedy content, I cannot get it into words. Suffice to say that you normally pay to see such entertainment.

My nut split at the G-String

And then Thursday happened. The final insult. Still at home off sick, but finally seeing an end to it, sat in front of my computer. My bass guitar was sitting up on the settee where I had been tightening the new strings as they loosened (it happens when they are new). And then it decided to play itself. Twang! And again a few seconds later, except this time the Twang! decided to die very quickly. I went to take a look. What I now know to be called a “nut” had split, right under the G-string. Painful enough when it happens to you, but when it happens to your bass guitar, it renders it unplayable. A nut is like a bridge but it’s between the top of the fretboard and the headstock. A bit of research on the net told me what it was called, but even then, the phrase “bass guitar nut” has at least one other meaning I can think of, and google helped me find a few more.

A Bass Nut

A Bass Nut

Anyway the thickness of the existing, broken, nut was about 3mm. Looking on the internet I kept finding them about 5mm or larger. It took ages before I found one already pre-formed for a JBass type bass – and it was the only one I’d found. I ordered two, as I would feel more confident about fitting it if I knew I had a spare one. Still, I had read up about fitting one and I was dreading it.

Nice Surprise Nº 1

With Friday came the news about the Political Fund ballot in PCS. The sheer level of opposition whipped up against the National Committee over this ballot was leaving me thinking that it may be lost. I find it incredible that the Right Wing in the unions complain about strikes, and they say we should try other things first. In fact we invariably do – to strike is the last resort. The purpose of this change in the political fund rules was to allow PCS to put pressure on by selectively supporting or running candidates in general elections. Not all over, literally one or two, but where it may have a political impact. Say a minister responsible for many cutbacks was being opposed locally in an election by an anti-cuts candidate? Should we stay out of it? Under the old rules we had to. The new agreed rules mean we can take part if it’s in our interests. But the opponents tried to paint a picture of PCS running as a political party! But not only that, some people on the left, normally allied with the National Committee, decided to oppose the change because it may mean opposing Labour candidates. Well – if the local Labour candidate against the minister making cutbacks is unequivocally on our side, why would we support an alternate candidate? The problem is precisely that the majority of the parliamentary Labour party is as wedded to the austerity program as the Tories and Liberals are. Anyway – in these circumstances, the huge majority in favour of the changes to our rules show that, despite the misgivings of many, that it was the right thing to do, or that we could win the ballot, were unfounded. And it was a nice surprise.

Nice Surprise Nº 2

Saturday brought the second nice surprise. My padded envelope had arrived from Axesrus, with my nuts in it! (Don’t snigger, it was all clarified above). I checked the postbox on the way out to the shops, but didn’t really expect this. So, amongst the frozen vegetables and other stuff to restock the fridge freezer, I also bought some sandpaper and wood glue. Back from the shops I set to work. Firstly the slots in the replacement nut were too narrow for my strings. You have to grind them out a little. And then the thickness of it was a fraction of a millimeter more than the one that came out. Sandpaper job, wrapped round a dining knife. I also sanded the bottom corners of the nut so I could force it into the slot. Anyway, it’s there and it works now.

And the Hat-Trick!

Today we had band practice. One last thing to sort out. Would these higher quality guitar leads solve the noise problems I had last week? Originally, plugging the bass directly into the amp gave me a sound that was a bit lacking at the very low end, and if I turned the tone knob up I got a nasty buzz whenever my finger was not earthing the cover-plate on the bass. With the Behringer pedal, the sound was better but if I turned both volume knobs down on the bass, I got a nasty, loud, hum. Adding the Boston leads, the effect was amazing. Clean sound, lots of presence! Grunt at the low end. Plenty through the range. Treble boost to compensate for the nylon covered strings, and no tape on my thumb, nor blisters. That’s why I decided to try alternate leads, but I was still shocked at the difference it made. Three good surprises in 3 days.

Back to work tomorrow so it can’t continue.

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