Dear Dr. Cleetus … my husband’s bluegrass obsession has entered the bedroom!

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Dear Dr Cleetus,

My husband and I have been happily married for several years now but recently his musical tastes have taken a sharp left turn leaving me confused and frankly frustrated, particularly in the area of personal intimacy, which should of course be the bedrock of any loving relationship. The change in him started a few months back after watching a Burt Reynolds film but it only manifested itself with a series of playlists that he insisted on playing both in the house and when we were in the car. These weren’t your usual mix of slightly edgy singer-songwriter stuff with occasional towering harmonies and perhaps chiming guitars no these were… well… full of banjos. Now I don’t mind a banjo, in fact, the occasional Avett Bros track is to be enjoyed very much but Derek’s new tastes weren’t occasional or even subtle. No, I have been forced over a number of weeks to listen to nothing but banjos and most of them played bloody fast too! This might have been all very well but I then started noticing him hiding his phone from me and being cagey around the family computer. My worst fears were realised when I checked his browsing history whilst he was dealing with a curry from the previous evening if you get my drift. Luckily my cries of shock were drowned out by his yelps of pain as The House of Kashmir special did its usual damage. The videos he’d been looking at were full of grubby men in plaid shirts, big hats and dungarees plucking away as if there was no tomorrow. In one of them someone called Earl was thrashing his gnarly instrument for all it was worth whilst grinning like a loon.

I was in a state of panic but couldn’t confront Derek until he’d had his usual lie-down. I made him a cup of tea and went to confront him. The room was dark and as I entered there was some surreptitious shuffling under the covers. Thinking I could perhaps woo him back to sanity I slipped under the duvet and as I reached for him I felt something that chilled me to marrow. It was hard and ornate and Derek was gripping it tightly with a dangerous look in his eyes. I whipped off the covers and there it was… in our bed… a full-size banjo, its strings taut against my best Dunelm fitted sheet. Derek said nothing, just grinned and then… very slowly… he began to pluck. I ran Dr Cleetus, I ran for my life. I’m now staying with my sister Madge, in Goole. She’s been very kind but there is only so much Take That a woman can take. I miss my Jayhawks and Jason Isbell. I miss my old Derek. What can I do to get him back? Please help. Best (name and address withheld)

Dear (name and address withheld)

What an odd name you have. This sounds very serious and in my time I have come across many a young musician that has dabbled with the banjo; in fact, I was the one who managed to help a certain Marcus M with his tendency to embellish his work with one. However this seems far more serious and possibly irreversible. My advice would be get everything you can from any joint accounts and sue for divorce as soon as possible. The other alternative is confrontation, it rarely works but the neighbours will enjoy it. Go home when you know Derek will be out. Find the banjo or indeed jos as these things tend to proliferate quickly, grab all the dungarees and any devices that Derek may have infected with his search history and burn the lot outside the front door. Leave a white t-shirt, a pair of jeans and pair of sensible yet trendy shoes on the doorstep with a note telling him to put them on and burn what he’s wearing if he wants you back. And don’t whatever you do allow him to watch ‘Deliverance’ ever again. 

About Keith Hargreaves 391 Articles
Riding the one eyed horse into dead town the scales fell from his eyes. Music was the only true god at once profane and divine The dust blew through his mind as he considered the offering... And then he scored it out of ten and waited for the world to wake up
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Jeremy Courtnadge

Surely she should be advised to count herself fortunate to have met such a man?

Jonathan Aird

Indeed…was it not Shakespeare who wrote “If music be the food of love then let’s hear Foggy Mountain Breakdown on that there banjo”. He was quite the fan, as his other well known quotation “a banjo, a banjo, my kingdom for a banjo” amply demonstrates. His preference for Scruggs style is well attested by “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some are Earl Scruggs”.

In this case I think it’s fair to say “the lady doth protest too much, methinks”.