Previously, in Ode to Our Piano …
When we left off, our lovely old walnut piano was to be collected by Forces Support, the charity that supports families of injured and lost service personnel, providing professional help with unfinished house and garden projects. We were so pleased and relieved that such a great charity was going to benefit.
Here’s what happened next…
They didn’t turn up! The van broke down. They did, however, come the following week. With no wheels and a broken tailgate lift. There were two of them. A big strapping young man and a small, pencil-thin 17 year old who looked like he’d fall over if you breathed on him. He was horrified when he saw the size and weight of the piano. He wouldn’t even try to lift the lid, let alone the whole item. I felt sorry for him. The strong guy kept looking at it and huffing and puffing, clearly shocked at the fact that a) it was a piano not a sideboard that he had to pick up and b) the weight of said item. No way were they going to be able to get it out of the house let alone into the back of the truck.
They left, apologetically, saying they would report back to HQ and see if they could get more bodies, some wheels and a truck with a working lift. They would call us in an hour.
Nope. None of those things came to pass. Next day, when I called, their manager said he had no further help and no other van and so we agreed that it would not be possible for them to take it after all. We were so deflated.
We couldn’t believe how hard it was to donate such a beloved piece of our family history! During all of this, I had read that a recycling plant in Bristol destroys 300 old pianos a week because no-one wants them. They cost up to £6000 to recondition and people can buy new ones from China for £600.
Everyone I told said ‘It’s a sign’ and ‘You have to keep it’. It made me tear up, but the decision was made and it had to go.
We reluctantly looked at eBay, but pianos were just not selling, even for 99p. Next was an ad on Freecycle, but even that was against us: the photo went on upside down!
Finally, the tried and tested method of giving stuff away for free: a notice on the garden gate! We put one on the drive gate, one on the path gate.
The piano was positioned in the window to be shown off to its best advantage. All the schoolchildren filed past day after day, some craning their necks to take a look, some laughing at our tomfoolery, one girl took down our number. The signs were in plastic covers and tied on tightly, but they blew about forlornly in the wind and rain. Even the weather had its opinion.
After several days we had all but given up. We were resigning ourselves to sending the piano to the local recycling centre – for which we would have to pay.
Late one afternoon, however, after the schoolchildren had paraded past once again, there was a light tap on the front door. I struggled to get to the door and couldn’t find the key! Eventually I opened it to find a woman standing there with her son still in school uniform.
Hesitantly, she asked if the piano was really available for free. Yes, Yes, Yes! Come in, I gushed, ushering them in like they were the Royal Family. She took one look and said I love it! Wait, I said, for I didn’t want any more hitches, you have to know that the left pedal has never worked and the third bottom key doesn’t work and the cat knocked over a vase of flowers on this corner, so there’s a mark and… and…
I could ‘hear’ my husband hissing stop, stop, you’ll put her off! but I wanted to make sure she knew what she was getting.
I’ll have it! she laughed. I laughed. Her son looked on amused almost shaking his head at these oldies.
It turns out she has 6 children. The son who was with her, Will, had seen the ad on the gate and told her about it. His 13 year old sister, Lottie (love their names), was desperate to play piano and was teaching herself via YouTube! They thought she would love ours. I was delighted it was going to another family.
So today, their older brother, Sam, and his two unsuspecting mates turned up with a van – and no wheels! – and after half an hour of pulling and pushing this way and that, turning it first one way, then around, a lot of head-scratching ensued – how did we get it in there in the first place?! Then, after getting it and one of the lad’s thumbs and another’s toe wedged against the door jamb and the staircase, they got it out, on its side. My heart was in my mouth the whole time, concerned someone would put their back out and at the way this poor old lady was being manhandled. I completely missed the photo of the successful manoeuvre when they had to tip it up!
I hope it’s not completely wrecked and they’re not disappointed. Of course, these poor lads had to do it all again at the other end, which was just down the street.
So bye-bye, piano. My eyes filled up as they drove away.
She has finally gone.
Along with half the paintwork!
Except, it didn’t end there! See Ode to Our Piano: Guess What?
Copyright: Chris McGowan