So a bad musician blames his instruments.
And I am indeed a bad musician, so will readily blame my instruments - namely, the two ukuleles I bought through eBay just over a year ago, unwittingly securing double the nymber I needed thanks to a miscalculation over the timing of bids.
I was excited when both arrived, though a little unnerved by the bright crimson red of the one Mahalo uke. And after what seemed an eternity trying to get them in tune, it was a rare delight to be able to pluck out a few easy chords, the four strings corresponding rather straightforwardly to the top four on a guitar.
Still, they felt a little more like children's toys than semi-serious instruments, and the plink-plink sounds were not quite what I had in mind when enjoying such recordings as 'I'll See You In My Dreams' by Joe Brown at the George Harrison tribute concert, and even a few of the guiltily-enjoyable George Formby classics.
In fact, any novelty quickly wore off - especially as they seemed nigh-on impossible to keep in tune for more than 15 seconds or so. Just breathing slightly heavily would send the tuning pegs spinning. And my ambition of carrying around a handy little uke and delighting friends and family - occasionally - with cute little singalongs, soon turned slightly sour. I leant the one to my mum for a touring show she put on, set in the Second World War and featuring a few Formby numbers among the music hall renditions. She took the brown one (the red one was indeed a little too garish), and once it was returned to me I resolved to try one more time, a little more concentratedly, to master the instrument.
After all - Vogue magazine hailed the ukulele as one of their style icons of 2005; the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain have been a cult favourite with their impeccable, good-humoured versions of Ms Dynamite, Kate Bush and AC/DC on ukes alone; and for all the naffness of Formby with his little ukulele in his hand, there is the coolly contrasting vision of Marilyn Monroe clutching a uke and making it look somehow sexy in Some Like It Hot... (Not forgetting the excellently-conceived and executed Day Today sketch, which purports to expose Bob Dylan as a plagiarist, by revealing his songs such as Subterranean Homesick Blues were actually written and performed by the Blackpool bard himself, two decades earlier...)
But later today I must parcel up and post on my first two ukuleles, having sold them on again through eBay - the circle of life continues, and my hunt for an interesting-sounding, restless-curiosity-sating alternative to my acoustic guitars enters its next phase.
A banjolele - that's what I should have gone for in the first place...