There are drawbacks to growing up in a terraced house. Not least, the ever present noise of one's neighbours. Doors closing, feet thumping, toilets flushing, beds creaking, sometimes rhythmically. There is constant kerfuffle.
The brain however, is an efficient filter. Once sufficiently tuned in, it can divert this cacophony away from the attention. It does it so brilliantly, that your ears hear only silence.
When I left home, it was weeks before I could get a good nights sleep. My digs were in a Psychiatric Hospital, exiled from society, in the middle of the countryside. It was so deafeningly quiet there, that I couldn't sleep for the noise of my own breath.
There was however one night, that living in a terraced house was of great benefit to me.
I was lying in bed, about to drop off, when I heard through the wall, the most wonderful noise. It sounded like the biggest string orchestra I'd ever heard, holding a single note for what felt like forever. That alone had my ear against the wall.
Then I heard those first clear notes from David Gilmour's strat. E, D, E...
I decided there and then I wanted to be a guitarist. The next morning, I knocked on Mark's door and asked him what tune it was. He told me, and generously gave me a copy of Wish You Were Here on tape.
These days I can't abide Pink Floyd. They represent to me, the worst excesses of self indulgent toss-rock. Back then however, I thought they were fabulous. Especially Shine On You Crazy Diamond. I remember saving up my pocket money to buy the cheapest guitar I could get, simply for the purpose of learning to play Gilmour's solo.
It was a battered Encore Strat copy. It cost no more than a tenner and came with a set of worn out 12 gauge strings. The guitarists amongst you will know that these are pretty beefy strings. Better defined as cables, I suppose. Bending them, like Gilmour does, isn't easy with 12 gauges. It's even less easy for a fourteen year old with delicate skin on his fingertips.
I swear, I practiced so hard to play this song, that my fingers bled. No joke.