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In 1995, just before my 15th birthday, I was on a school exchange trip in France. I hated the guy I was paired up with and I spent all my time there playing on his pinball machine, listening to Therapy?’s Troublegum album and dossing off to drink Kronenburg at the local bar. The pinball machine took Francs and so my host probably didn’t mind me being antisocial as he thought I was filling up his holiday fund. However, his little brother (who I taught sarcasm to and got on better with) told me the key was stuck underneath with blu-tack. So he opened the door and flicked the button for free credits. Sweet!

When the French were with us in England they followed us to all our classes so they had someone they knew. However when we were in France they just gave us our own timetable and we were on our own! We were all bored stiff with a bunch of French kids we didn’t know from L’Adam. I made friends with one kid who liked my Therapy? t-shirt and we all subsequently skived off to the local pub. Our hosts were clueless because they just dropped us at school and didn’t see us until home time anyway. By the end of the 10 days there were about 12 of us who were now regulars at the bar, drinking bad French beer, playing pool and listening to The Offspring on the jukebox.

I took a bit of a shine to one of the girls in our group and at one point she commented that I should learn to play guitar. So I did.

On my return I stole my brother’s guitar and amp (he’d stopped playing anyway, so I assume it was OK). I think it was also his ‘how to play guitar’ book… And I taught myself how to play basic chords, read tablature and master a few strumming techniques. But then I came to a standstill…

That was until I was at the park at St Ives in Bingley (West Yorkshire) with a mate of mine who’d brought his guitar with him. We were sat up in the treehouse and he taught me about ‘power chords’. Basically these are an easy way to play chords without having to learn too much boring technical stuff. Considering my genre of choice was punk rock, the power chord was a god-send! There was no stopping me then.

And that, boys and girls, is how/why I started to play guitar. That was nearly 20 years ago…

So, C is for Chords on a guitar.