Jonny Belmont’s Guitar

Shutterstock / PLotulitStocker © Abstract beautiful hands playing Guitar on Watercolor painting background and Digital illustration brush to art

A lifetime’s work may end, but a new generation takes up the tune…

I hadn’t thought of Jonny Belmont for ages – not until my grandson bought a second-hand guitar from the charity shop.

“Have you seen what Toby’s done now?” My daughter assailed me the moment I stepped into her house.

Toby is the sort of difficult, lovable, unpredictable free spirit who would have cured her appetite for a family had he been her firstborn.

“What?” I peered into the back garden where a defiant fourteen-year-old was lavishing polish on a battered electric guitar.

“He bought that old thing with the money you gave him.”

My daughter’s face seethed with accusation.

“I see. Oh dear.”

Toby’s musical abilities came from me. At his age, I would have done the same but I couldn’t say that.

Instead, I pulled a consoling expression and hid the admiration I felt for my grandson and the guitar he couldn’t resist.

“It’ll make a racket.” She scowled.

“You said he could have one.”

“I know but I hoped he’d forget. He’s already got a collection of… instruments.”

She threw her hands in the air. I knew what the gesture meant.

“D’you want me to have a word?”

“I want you to talk him right out of it, Mum. Thanks.” With her burden lifted she walked away.

Lovely guitar,” I said to Toby when I joined him in the garage.

“Thanks, Gran. You understand.”

I could tell by the way he held it that he was already smitten.

“Will you have lessons?”

I didn’t want to say the wrong thing and I didn’t know what the right thing was.

“I get lessons at school and besides, whoever owned this also owned a fantastic music collection that has come with it and loads of instruction manuals. It’s everything I need to begin.”

“Really?” I glanced at the collection of sheet music on the floor. While I thought about what to say, I lifted a few and sifted through them.

That’s when I saw the name Jonny Belmont, written in a familiar script that made my heart leap.

“Mr Belmont’s guitar.”

My voice caught in my throat, causing my grandson to look at me.

“He was my music teacher.”

Toby looked faintly interested and then the realisation dawned on him.

“Oh, Gran. He must have died for all his stuff to be in the charity shop.”

“So he must.”

I felt sad for a moment but then had a recollection of a coach full of excited young people travelling to a music festival, Jonny Belmont at the front, leading the songs.

All the boys looked up to him and all the girls tried to out-sing each other to impress him.

“You should have been a pop star, sir,” a young voice called as he dazzled us with his heartfelt songs.

“Didn’t quite make it – which is why I’m doing the next best thing. Teaching you.”

My heart beat as it had done a long time ago – this time at the sight of Mr Belmont’s words scribbled in the margins of the music. Reminders of how he guided us through years of concerts.

“Can you play any of these tunes, Toby?”

“Not brilliantly, but I can have a go.”

“Go on, then.”

Toby hadn’t learned enough to play like Mr Belmont, yet, but he did his best and I relived happy days.

“If you follow the instructions in those books, Toby, you’ll soon be playing like a pro.”

“Thanks, Gran. I just knew you’d be on my side.”

Jonny Belmont made a great success of his second career choice and as I saw the enthusiasm on my grandson’s face I quietly thanked him for graciously accepting his gift as a teacher.

You were a while there, Mum.” My daughter had cooled down when I returned to her house. “Has he come round to your way of thinking?”

“Yes love, he has.”

That had been easy. What I needed was to bring her around to it, too!

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