“Roll out the barrel…”
“My old man said follow the van and don’t dilly-dally on the way…”
“Dad, do you know the piano's on my foot?” - “You hum it son, I'll play it!”
That’s right folks; it’s time for us to throw out the television, discard the DVD, mutilate the MP3 player, crash the computer and make our own entertainment like our parents did when they were young, because we now have a piano.
My mother was a superb pianist – she had all 8 grades and as a child entered several prestigious competitions. She would tell us how there was one snotty nosed geek who, if he turned up, guaranteed no one else stood a chance of winning. She once came 2nd to him, although didn’t feel any particular achievement in it. My mother grew up to become an English and Music teacher, then a wife and mum, while the snotty nosed geek turned into world famous pianist, John Ogdon.
Mum tried teaching me the piano when I was a child, but though I studied it for a while, like most things your parents try and force you into, eventually I rebelled against it. I can’t remember the precise incident that prompted the outburst, but I do recall my mother once yelling at me, “If you don’t want to learn the piano then you don’t have to bother with the bloody thing!” Delighted I’d discovered an escape route, that was the last piano lesson I ever received.
Of course, as an adult I can look back with regret at a missed opportunity, but as a child, watching TV or playing with Lego® was infinitely more fun than practicing scales.
I found out recently that Maggie had lessons for a year back when she was 7, and that there’d been a piano in her house up until they moved a couple of years later. But while tuition had ceased by that time, pathways had been laid down in the brain in such a way that the idea of a piano in the house seemed slightly magical.
Not long ago Rogan mentioned he’d like to learn the piano, and while I nodded and grunted and returned to the Sudoku puzzle engaging most of my attention, Maggie made a mental note and started putting the word out (or more precisely, told our friend Liz who is one of life’s natural networkers). I wasn’t overly aware of this so I was quite surprised when suddenly and out of the blue we were told a few days ago of a couple who were moving to smaller accommodation and were prepared to give us their piano for free if we could collect it by the weekend.
Now when talk begins of moving pianos, immediately images of Laurel and Hardy, or the old PG Tips advert with the chimpanzees, spring to mind. This wasn’t something I was going to be able to do on my own.
The next 2 days were spent frantically calling removal firms who couldn’t do anything at such short notice, or charged so much it would be cheaper to go out and buy a brand new one. After we’d exhausted the phone book and the Internet I set about phoning friends, acquaintances and virtual strangers to try and find someone with a van and half a dozen bodies to help move the thing.
Just as I was beginning to think it was never going to happen, the piano owner phoned to say he’d found a piano tuner who had a horsebox, a wee trolley thing to manoeuvre it with and plenty of experience moving them. So last night we took delivery of an upright Obermeier Pianoforte-Fabrik. It needs a clean and is in desperate need of tuning, but it’s the real thing; it even smells like my mother’s old piano.
Now we just have to find someone who can teach all four of us to play in a weekly half-hour session.
All together now…