BE­YOND PIXELS

This month … Chris Perry uses his guitar-fix­ing skills to bring West­ern mu­sic to ex­pats in the Middle East

net magazine - - CONTENTS - Project man­ager Chris (@Chris_ Per­ry_61) works in the Middle East de­liv­er­ing in­fra­struc­ture. He’s also a fo­rum moder­a­tor at www.site­point.com

Chris Perry has built a rep­u­ta­tion as the man to fix your guitar in Riyadh

I’ve been work­ing in IT in Riyadh for the last 16 or so years. Ini­tially I was a sys­tems de­vel­oper, and in­tro­duced CSS to my team – heady days. Over re­cent years though, I’ve mostly worked as a project man­ager, pri­mar­ily de­liv­er­ing in­fra­struc­ture. It’s through this rather cir­cuitous route that I came to be re­pair­ing gui­tars.

I quickly learned that you have to put some ef­fort into keep­ing your­self amused when not in work, as things I might nor­mally take for granted like cine­mas, the pub and live mu­sic events aren’t avail­able here. Peo­ple can be re­mark­ably re­source­ful in cre­at­ing a more fa­mil­iar life for them­selves. With ex­pats comes west­ern mu­sic, and the means to make that mu­sic. For me that means gui­tars.

While I’ve been here I’ve built up my own small col­lec­tion, and have steadily ac­quired the tools needed to ad­just them. Like work­ing on code, it re­wards pa­tience and ben­e­fits from time spent un­der­stand­ing the prob­lem. Rather un­like the day job though, there’s no need to ad­ver­tise. Per­haps in­evitably, word has got around that I can take an un­playable in­stru­ment and turn it into some­thing per­fectly gig­gable. I just get these phone calls that start: “Is that Chris...?”

Hav­ing started my work­ing life as an RAF avion­ics tech­ni­cian and grow­ing up with a dad who worked as a joiner, I’ve de­vel­oped an affin­ity for stringed in­stru­ments. It may not be im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous, but struc­turally a guitar is very sim­i­lar to an archery bow. The ten­sion be­tween strings and the gen­tly curved wood – it’s a sim­ple geo­met­ric prin­ci­ple that’s in play, which takes care­ful ad­just­ment to get right.

I can see par­al­lels be­tween this and the struc­tural un­der­pin­nings of HTML: only once a firm base has been es­tab­lished can you pro­ceed fur­ther. You can make a guitar from an at­trac­tive ex­otic wood, but on its own this doesn’t make it playable. It’s the same with a web page: with­out or­gan­ised HTML, mak­ing it look and func­tion well is go­ing to be harder than it needs to be.

Even­tu­ally, I’m hop­ing to come back to code and web de­vel­op­ment in par­tic­u­lar. There’s a real sat­is­fac­tion in be­ing able to see im­me­di­ate re­sults from small changes. I get that from the work I do on gui­tars; it’s there as soon as you plug in and play. And you can see it in the smil­ing face of the gui­tarist whose pride and joy has just been trans­formed from a clank­ing mass of wood and wire into a tone machine, thanks to you.

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