Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sausage Fingers

My walking experiences in the last year have surprisingly put me in the position of being able to offer advice to guitar virtuoso Mark Knopfler. The normal position is that if he were to offer me advice, I would probably not understand it, I would certainly not be able to implement it, and in fact would have difficulty following the speed of his fingers as he demonstrated the advice.

The late great Hoyt Axton wrote and sang a song called "Bony Fingers" - he had this brilliant theory that this is what you get if you work your fingers to the bone. But what I have to tell Mark is about "Sausage Fingers", which is what you get if you walk long distance, especially in hot weather.

Gay and I both noticed it when we were doing a lot of walking in Central Otago, New Zealand, earlier this year. It must have happened before, but this was the first time it had struck us. You don't use your fingers a lot when walking, except, especially on that particular walk, to grasp the magnificent world-class date scones at the halfway mark -the Post Office cafe in Clyde. Under severe questioning it is possible that I could face up to the fact that the scones were inducing us every day into a 25 kms walk, which could possibly have led my mind to this whole concept of walking across half of Europe - those scones have a lot to answer for!

I don't think it was just the heat. In the same time scale, we were doing a lot of cycling on the Central Otago Rail Trail, so we were out in the same heat for the same length of time. with no sausage effect. The other day, when I walked 30 kms in 30 degrees, I had a full load of sausages long before I arrived home. Today Gay and I cycled 60 kms (also on a Rail Trail) - not a sossie in sight.

So it must be something to do with swinging the arms, blood rushing to the extremities, especially when in conjunction with the heat.

Anyway, it is impossible to do anything dexterous for some time after the walk has finished. At my puny level of guitar playing, I find it impossible to finger the correct frets or pluck the right strings. If I was not trying to play fingerstyle I would probably have trouble holding a pick. In fact, that's the sort of trouble I have even before going for a walk, but this is not the time for me to cry in your beer.

So, at last I can give Mark Knopfler some advice, which is, I am sure you will have guessed, that he should not go for any long distance walks just prior to a gig. Whatever the temptation, don't do it. Right, Mark?

And I don't mind you passing that advice on to your chum Eric Clapton.

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