When I sit down at my kitchen table, the Fylde Ariel guitar on a stand in the corner responds with a little open chord. It’s as if it’s reminding me that it’s there. But what it’s really saying is “I am so responsive, I have been so well crafted that you don’t even have to touch me, I’m responding to your footsteps, the vibrations they make as you walk across the floor”. My Ariel was made by Roger Bucknall, Fylde’s founder. The guitars are made in a tiny factory on the outskirts of Penrith, about as far away from the music ‘industry’ as you can get but everyone from Pete Townsend and Martin Carthy to Cliff Richard has got one. You can’t buy a Fylde off the shelf, you have to ask Mr Bucknall to make you one and he quite openly tells you it will be between six and nine months before you see it – and then asks for fifty percent up front. I should say that the price of a Fylde guitar does not seem to be cheap; you would quite rightly expect something very good indeed for £1800 for an entry-level piece. When you take delivery of your Fylde guitar many months later, having almost forgotten that you had ordered it, the instrument will exceed all your expectations. For a very average player like myself, you will hear the guitar’s musical possibilities in a completely different light because you will be able to hear every nuance of every note anywhere on the scale. Not only that, when you look at the guitar you see that it has a lovely simplicity, almost like a piece of Shaker furniture; it doesn’t shriek its presence but when you look closely it is the most beautifully crafted wooden object.
Anyway this isn’t about guitars but about the notion of ‘luxury’, because when the Ariel made its little open chord “hello” the other day it made me reflect upon the nature of luxury. On the surface of it The Fylde is a luxury item but it will go on giving pleasure and saying “hello” to people long after I have left this mortal coil. In fact most solid wood guitars like the Ariel will improve with each passing year. As long as no one sits on it, it will be there forever; a testament to Bucknall’s skills and the Cedar and Sapele trees it came from.
I am not a wealthy person but I enjoy ‘luxury’ in relatively inexpensive items. I am aware that for many, luxury is about cars, expensive hotels, the best address, the best table at the best restaurant etc, but in the spirit of the almost-done age of austerity here are a few things that make me feel I’m in the lap of luxury:
Wearing cologne everyday, Jo Malone hand soap, Egyptian cotton sheets, cuff links, Richard James socks, English Breakfast tea, music, Gibson J45 guitar (good as a Fylde but in a different way) Guardian iPad edition, Condor touring bike and Anthony Hudson who looks after it, Moleskine note books, Lamy rollerball pen, leather shoes, paintings by Mali Morris, John McLean, Jeff Rigden and Roger Hilton, Hyacinths, novels, large bath towels, Americano coffee every day, Philippa my dental hygienist, Lumix GX7 and 20mm pancake lens, Schmincke water colours and Midas Touch travel brushes, my garden and Siggy who looks after it, Proudfoot Ltd’s office in Clerkenwell and the people in it, Wendy’s crimson painted toenails, even in winter, Fred Perry Harrington, BBC4, Chris Morphet, Mike James, Marc Rovira, (cameramen) Andreas Törner, Charles Davies, Matt Spurr (editors) Simon Couzens (sound mixer).