Kongo and Gonzalo

Above the guitar shop on Eggy Road is where Jongo and Honza lived together for 10 years. Jongo was the Belgian gypsy who owned and worked in the guitar shop. Honza was the Czech giant who busked every day from morning until night on Bold Street. They first met many years ago in France at an all night jazz bar. Jongo headed into the bar late at night, where Honza was playing. After the show, they sat together and played into dawn, picking their way through any song that came to mind. From the moment they met, they were inseparable.

They communicated only with music, as none of them could speak each other’s language. They continued this way for some years, each one of them stubbornly refusing to learn the other one’s native tongue. After a while, they both agreed to learn English together. The first word they both learned was ‘Lazy’ and for a while that’s all they called each other. They travelled Europe in Jongo’s yellow VW camper van, stopping only to busk for money and terrorise the locals, screaming ‘Lazy!’ at passers by. If you seen any one of them, the other was sure to be close by.

They were an odd couple and strange to the eye. When they stood beside each other there was nothing to suggest that they might be friends. Honza was 7 foot tall, shockingly skinny, always wearing aviator shades with wild hair looking like he’d just been electrocuted. He looked like a madder, weirder, taller Keith Richards. He used to proudly claim that he once stayed awake for a full week, and he’s never been the same since. When he played guitar he used a pen knife as a slide. Jongo was much shorter, always wearing denim. He had one of those long haircuts that went down to his shoulders, while also going bald at the top. He was a genius at fixing guitars and making instruments out of junk that people throw away. Jongo, was a massive fan of Django Reinhardt, which is where he got his name. He was born simply Jon, but legally changed it to Jongo in tribute to the great guitarist.

Jongo’s dream since he was a young man was to one day open up a guitar shop. Somewhere with a workshop where he could build and fix guitars. Nothing gave him more pleasure than getting handed a broken guitar, the more broken the better. He would work on it day and night til it was good as new. Better than new. He often found lumps of wood in skips and two days later he had built a guitar out of it.

After a few trips around Europe, they had both saved enough money and learned enough English to move to Liverpool. They met a friend on their travels who owned a building there that could serve as both a guitar shop and a place to live. It was perfect. Honza busked every day while Jongo worked on his guitars. Word quickly spread about the Czech giant who could play like Howlin Wolf and the Belgian gypsy who made guitars. Soon every musician in Liverpool was hanging out at the shop, playing the strange instruments that hung on the wall, while Jongo was in the back workshop, fixing fiddles, amps, banjos, mandolins, banjolins.. At night they would throw parties in their flat upstairs. Honza had built a studio in the bathroom where many bands recorded their first demos. It went on like this for years, both men happy in their new home, living their odd dream.

Soon after this, Jongo met a girl. He started seeing more and more of her, and soon she was living in the flat with them. Honza started spending less and less time at the flat, only coming there to grab something or to throw a party. After a days busking, he would often come home with a score of people and party straight for days. Honza was getting wilder and wilder. The flat started becoming a crashing place for bands passing through town, often they would outstay their welcome and stay for weeks on end. Sometimes the door was left open for anybody to come and go as they pleased, with neither Jongo or Honza anywhere in sight.

Slowly the flat became an impossible place to live. Jongo abandoned the flat and moved in with his girlfriend. He opened a new guitar shop further up the road, leaving the old one to rot with Honza and his gang. Honza never realised that the two friends had even drifted apart. He just woke up one day and realised Jongo was gone.

It was 5 years ago that they stopped being friends and became strangers. The old guitar shop and the old flat are both demolished and a betting shop stands in their place. But nearly every day, Honza rides his bike into town, cycling past Jongo’s new guitar shop, and every day he waves in. Jongo never returns the wave and turns his back, pretending not to see him. If theres a customer in the shop with him, Jongo would always ask them, ”How is Lazy getting on?”. They would always say, ”Honza is still the exact same.” Jongo, would shake his head and smile, before saying, ”Don’t let him know I was asking for him.”

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