Saturday, December 27, 2003


There’s a picture hanging on the wall, just behind where the piano used to stand. It’s a photo-montage, mostly close-up details of the inner workings of my old Broadwood White iron-framed overstrung upright. Wood, wire, iron, felt – a piece of craftsmanship from an age before Japanese production lines churned these out by the thousand. She was already old when we took her over from my parents, and she wasn’t new when they bought her, before I was born. My brother , sister and I all learned to play on her, as did our own children as she followed us around through house moves. Mechanically she was starting to show her age – suffering the effects of central heating shrinking the wood that held the tuning pegs so that she would no longer hold her tune – although her tone was as strong as ever.

Funny thing is, she only became a “she” when I got rid of her. She went to a good home, to a good friend with much musical talent in his family, and in the exchange of emails sorting things out, for some reason I started calling her Jo, short for Joanna, which of course is cockney rhyming slang for piano. It lent a mischievous touch of fun to the emails, talking about shipping the old girl around. Somehow the name and the gender stuck.

We replaced her with a piece of modern, characterless, mass-produced electronic wizardry, otherwise known as a Yamaha Clavinova. The sound isn’t bad (it is after all a sampled Yamaha grand) and the touch is tolerably like a real piano. In spite of its limitations, it has one over-riding merit - it has a headphone socket. Which means I can play late into the night when everyone else has gone to bed without disturbing anyone.

But it remains an “it” and will never be a “she”. I miss the old girl sometimes.

Back to current posts