When I was young I was a pretty well-known drumming prodigy until an unfortunate protractor accident.
I was good, real good. So good they called my “stix”, sometimes “big stix”. I was that into drumming I took my drumsticks everywhere I went, I slept with them under my pillow and ate my dinner with them, using them like giant chopsticks. At the age of 12 I was leading the school orchestra. I was even featured in the top drumming publication Drumming World, winning their prestigious ‘Golden Snare’ award. At school, I was a drumming rock star. I didn’t have to queue or sometimes even pay at the school tuck shop, I had my choice of groupies from the school orchestra, and I was even allowed to use the teacher’s toilet. I was on top of the world.
But, with all the hype I got carried away and got too big for my toms. I started turning up late for band practice, started to fool around too much with the girls from the woodwind section, I even left my beloved drumsticks in a Texaco toilet after an insatiable hankering for a Rustlers bbq rib. I was high. High on fame, Tipp-Ex and sugar from Astro Belts.
It was during one of these highs my life changed forever. Fresh from an Astro Apple (20 Astro Belts moulded into a round ball) and a hefty whiff of Tipp-Ex in the teacher’s toilet with Bernadette, a recorder player from the school orchestra with lips like Jar Jar Binks, I realised I was 15 minutes late for band practice. In a sugar and solvent fuelled panic we both darted out of the toilet forgetting the Tipp-Ex and leaving the place in a sugary mess, we proceed to make our way down the two flights of stairs to the music dept, in our hast I forgot to rezip my backpack, and just as we got down the first flight, it happened, my life got turned upside down (quite literally).As I expertly (some onlookers also described it as gracefully) twisted around the first stairwell, mathematics paraphilia started to fall out my unzipped bag, inexplicably a rogue protractor managed to land under my feet. It took me out like a banana skin in Mario Kart. Everything went into slow motion, I started somersaulting through the air like a handsome Jeff (or Matt) Hardy. I can still hear Bernadette’s anguished wail as I landed just out of her grasp. The pain was unbearable.
Me drumming before the accident:
The next thing I remember I was lying in a hospital bed, I couldn’t move my hands. When I looked down, both my thumbs were in casts, apparently, as I fell I put both my hands out to break the fall, the only thing it broke was my thumbs.
It took several months for my thumbs to heal, in that time my Astro Apple and Tipp-Ex habit worsened – it was the only thing that could almost numb the pain of not being able to drum. But, when they finally did heal they just weren’t the same. Due to my weak thumbs and my stoney solvent abused mind, I could no longer grip my drumsticks with any conviction, they felt alien to me, where once they felt like an extension to my hands they now felt like distant strangers, maybe even from another planet. My wrists also felt stiff and more wooden than my sticks. I could no longer find the beat, the rhythm eluded me. I started missing my queues and messed up the easiest of fills, my inner voice even changed to Ringo Starr. Not only was my drumming abilities affected, but the trauma of the accident and the Astro Apple sugar and Tipp-Ex combination also affected my personality. I started to have horrendous mood swings, I would take my frustration out at everyone, my music teacher and my fellow bandmates, if someone merely looked at me the wrong way their nostril would be penetrated by a drumstick, if anyone tried to offer any advice they would get symbols thrown at them, one unsuspecting Chelo player lost an eyebrow. I was out of control, I even snapped at the tuckshop lady for questioning why I was buying £15 worth of Astro Belts.
My drumming never improved. Pretty soon everything started to change. My music teacher stopped calling me “champ” and started calling me by my surname. Before I knew it I was back up in the school orchestra. Then the groupies stopped walking me home from school, even Bernadette. The other bandmates stopped doing my homework for me, I had to start queuing and paying at the tuckshop, they even changed the locks on the teacher’s toilet. Then the final nail on the snare shaped coffin, they stopped inviting me to band practice. With no band to play with I stopped playing the drums, I sold my kit and swapped my drumsticks for a shiny Roberto Baggio Panini football sticker. Its been 20 years and I haven’t held a drumstick since. Masturbation hasn’t held much joy either.