August 4, 2014

My piano comes home

 

It is tragic the amount of fabulous blog material I’ve missed using the last five days or so.  For example the BT landline engineer on Thursday had just finished telling me that it couldn’t be done because the wiring was too old, or possibly because it had been plastered over irrecoverably when I hired a small army to create an attic out of a large crawl space, or at least it couldn’t be done till 2017 because they were going to have to rewire Hampshire first,* or at very least it couldn’t be done that day, as scheduled, because they were going to have to import a special lorry with a special hoist which was presently in Belgium, or possibly Tanzania, with which to approach sufficiently reverently the overhead wiring from 1878 which was, of course, made out of string,** and, in 2014, can use all the reverence it can get.  So he had just finished telling me this when his phone rang*** and it was his manager saying that his brother had rung from hospital WHERE THEY HAD TAKEN HIS FATHER AND HE SHOULD GO THERE NOW.   Oh dear . . .

They sent me another engineer.  Which is pretty impressive since this meant he would be working past closing time.  And he was a little cranky about this—he says he rarely sees his two-year-old except on weekends—but he was in no way taking it out on me and I have total sympathy with cranky.  And he found a hoist in, I don’t know, Berkshire or Essex or Norway or something, and it came*** and HE GOT THIRD HOUSE PLUGGED IN NOT ONLY TO THE TELEPHONE BUT TO WHAT PASSES FOR THE REAL WORLD ANY MORE, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN . . . well, at all, for the internet, but a number of years for the phone, because Third House had stood empty for quite a while before the heirs put it on the market.  And then it hung around on the market for another while because it was overpriced and I kept walking past and fretting, having been in to the estate agent and discovered that (a) it was WAAAAAAAY out of any semblance of my price range and (b) in the estate agent’s opinion it was overpriced, and I should bide myself in patience.†  And we know how that ended.  And then I got my knickers in a twist about the ‘several hundred pounds to lay new phone line’ thing.  Oh, and the great deal I was getting from BT?  That they’d lay the new line if I’d agree to buy their broadband for two years?  Is anyone amazed that it’s not all that good a deal?  I get one connection.  If I want, you know, extensions, I have to pay for them.  I get one connection with one underfrellingpowered router with built in wireless THAT IS SO FEEBLE IT WON’T REACH TO THE OTHER END OF THIS LITTLE HOUSE, LET ALONE INTO THE ATTIC.  ARRRRRRRRRRGH.  So we have wireless broadband (mostly††) in the sitting room.  Peter can’t even get it in his office which is about eight feet away.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

BUT I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY PIANO.†††

I had asked Oisin and he’d said I should ask our mutual piano tuner about someone to move my darling, and the piano tuner clucked and said there was the less expensive option and the more expensive option and I said this is an old, heavy Steinway upright and I want her treated gently, and he said Sigurd of the Silver Doohickey was the bee’s knees of piano movers pretty much over the entire south of England but they were not cheap.  I rang Sigurd and they quoted a price that didn’t seem to me, the owner of an old heavy Steinway upright‡, all that remarkable, so I said yes and, furthermore, since what they do is move pianos and are always galloping back and forth across the south of England they managed to find me a slot for today . . . the first working day after the rest of the furniture went.

I will also at present leave out describing the amount of hauling of little stuff, from the mews to Third House, that has been going on both before and since Friday, and the sordid appallingnesses thus implacably revealed‡‡.  TODAY I was at the mews at 2 pm awaiting Cinderella’s coach with the reinforced suspension, the turbo jets and the crane.

This rather mild-mannered van rolled into the courtyard at 2:15.  It was bigger than your average White Van Man van but looking at it you didn’t immediately think panzer division, although it did say SIGURD OF THE SILVER DOOHICKEY SPECIALIST PIANO MOVER on all visible surfaces.  And three young laconic guys dropped out of it and strolled in a deeply cool manner to the front door.  In hindsight I suspect they were waiting to find out if I was going to be a Fainting in Coils type who would need to be managed but my first thirty seconds’ impression was not particularly positive.  Whatever.  Sigurd is the best, these guys must know what they’re doing.

I started to come round to them when they viewed the situation calmly, and the mews is not exactly set up for the easy moving of old heavy upright pianos, and there had been a fair amount of drama from the gang who had brought her.  One of these guys fetched one little skateboardy rolling thing and the other two started edging my darling out of her corner.  The one with the most tats—who fetched the skateboard—acknowledged that he was a hired gun and the other two were the Real Piano Movers.  They looked so, you know, normal.  Until the bigger of the two simply LIFTED one end of my piano a good eighteen frelling inches off the floor so they could start working the skateboard under.‡‡‡  Eeeeeep.

Well, they loaded her up and slid her across the floor and DOWN THE HORRIBLE LITTLE STEEP FRONT STEPS with only a titanium alloy ramp and the two blokes to keep her where she belonged, and the third guy scampering around adding stability where requested.  And while the two blokes waited for the third one to lower the tailgate ramp lift thing I said, I know there’s this mythology about heavy upright pianos and everybody thinks theirs is the heaviest, so, tell me, on a scale of upright pianos, where does this one go?  And they laughed—a little breathlessly, I’m happy to say—and replied, this model is the heaviest upright Steinway ever built which is to say this is the heaviest upright piano ever built.  A lot of full size concert grands weigh less than this piano, they said.

Oh.  This probably explains why Sigurd was so careful to ask for model number . . . and why they had the third bloke along today.  And I guess the van is the extra super reinforced concrete suspension Cinderella’s carriage.

So we trundled down to Third House and I, fool that I am, assumed that the worst was over, except for the part about how the sitting room would suddenly be Very Full of Piano once she was in.  NEVER MIND.  Atlas had cut back the clematis montana over the garden gate so you can actually get through without bending double and/or being strangled, and my piano and attendants came through with a flourish and swooped around to get a straight shot at the front door.  My hero looked at the door, looked at me and said, you did measure the door, didn’t you?

MEASURE THE DOOR?  IT’S A DOOR.  LIKE ANY OTHER DOOR . . . I was literally clutching my head at this point.

My hero looked at the door again, shook his head and said, I don’t think it’s going to go through.  They didn’t even use the ramp this time, they just kept picking her up over the steps.  What do they feed these boys?

AND SHE DIDN’T FIT THROUGH THE DOOR.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH

They were still so calm.  Well, this must happen all the time.  Stupid clueless people who assume that one ordinary front door is like another ordinary front door.  So they looked at the new situation—calmly—while I tried not to fall down in fits (or coils) and start gnawing on the outdoor furniture which looks very nice on the lawn here, by the way.

We’ll take the door off, said my hero.  I think if we just take the bottom off§ we can bring the piano in backwards and swing it around inside.

Which is what happened.  It was still a terrifyingly tight squeeze, and while they had her padded with blankets the frelling plastic door frame squealed unnervingly.  BUT SHE CAME THROUGH THE DOOR THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.  And they swung her around like doing the do-si-so—the so-called fitted carpet didn’t cooperate with this manoeuvre but along with the screwdriver as standard equipment for removing doors they’re also accustomed to what they call correcting the carpet—stood her up against the wall and . . . the sitting room is a trifle full of piano but it’s not actually as FRELLING SQUASHED LOOKING as I was afraid it would be.  And the really great thing?  Both the inner sitting room door and the outer door—the one that came off and that they put back on again because they are polite young gentlemen as well as major beefcake—into the garden OPEN ALL THE WAY.  With like three-quarters of an inch to spare, both sides.  Three quarters of an inch is all we need.

MY PIANO IS HOME.§§

* * *

* Which is probably true.  There’s all this bluster about getting Hampshire super-fast broadband and the first swathe happens next year.  Uh-huh.  We’re in the swathe for 2017.  And have I mentioned they’re building houses in this town faster than a hammer can fall on a nail?^  And that the broadband we have is grinding slowly to a dead halt as more and more people sign up?  And let’s not even talk about traffic and parking and the way you sometimes can’t get through the centre of town on foot.^^

^Possibly because they don’t use hammers and nails in house-building any more.  That’s so two centuries ago.+

+ Also because England deforested itself of suitable house-building trees more centuries ago than that.  They may still use hammers and nails in Maine.

^^ Especially not with totally clueless four-legged companions.  You’d think the hellhounds would have learnt to look both ways by now.  Pav, eh.

** Copper-impregnated galvanized string.  They don’t make string like they used to.

*** I’m beginning to forget what life was like before mobile phones.  Not in a good way.  I still consider Pooka back up not the main event.  And maybe in retaliation she decided the end of last week TO BE UNRELIABLE FOR A FEW DAYS.^  So I’m leaving messages all over the landscape DON’T USE MY MOBILE USE MY LANDLINE and . . . I have two messages on my landline, neither of them important, and about twenty seven on Pooka, most of which won’t pick up.  What is the MATTER with people?^^

My very best example however of the profound basic demon-possessed infuriatingness of mobile phones happened only this morning.  I was out with hellhounds.  Chaos had just Assumed the Position to have a crap at the edge of the pedestrian pavement.  Mildly embarrassing, with people streaming by, but not a big deal.  Not like it hasn’t happened before:  we frelling live in the centre of town.  I was focussed on him, getting my little black plastic bag out and so on, and glanced over my shoulder to check that Darkness wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t.  AND DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD ASSUMED THE POSITION IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF THE DOOR OF THE BARD AND OPHARION.

And Pooka started barking.

And Peter’s favourite bridge partner’s wife walked by, started to say hello and burst out laughing.

Oh, and the person who was ringing?  WAS SOMEONE I HAD TOLD TO USE MY LANDLINE.  I told her I’d ring her back.  That’s fine, she chirruped.  I’ve rung her five? six? seven? times over the course of the rest of the day . . . and she’s never at her desk, in her office or on the radar.  Possibly because her digital exchange says, ooooh, landline, how retro, and her assistant says, landline?  We don’t want to talk to any clumsy vulgar landline, we don’t do string anyway.

^ Or more than a few.  We don’t know yet.  Raphael remonstrated with her briefly today but he had his hands full trying to bring the frelling BT frelling broadband frelling crap router to heel.  Note:  he failed.

^^ I’m not going to ask what’s the matter with Pooka.  That way madness lies.

*** The driver doesn’t see his kids except on weekends either.

PATIENCE?  YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?

†† I’m not even going to start on this epic.  Raphael is coming back later in the week.  Maybe then.

††† There were epics on Friday, of course, but our loyal movers—this is now the third or fourth, depending on how you’re counting, time they’ve moved us.  We all call each other by name and say ‘hi’ in the street, you know?  Small local family firms.  Salt of the earth.  Adore, adore—were fabulous.  As they have always been fabulous.

‡ People go all faint when they see she’s a Steinway.^  As I keep saying, she was cheaper than a lot of mediocre new pianos and who wouldn’t have a Steinway if that’s the choice??  I’ve told you the story of how I bought her, haven’t I?  Another of my epics.

^ The logo is usually covered up by my music rack.

‡‡ And that the chief reason I haven’t blogged before today is that I’ve either been racing around like a crazy woman or collapsed in a weepy little puddle of ME on the nearest horizontal surface, floor, ground, hellhound bed, hellhound(s), whatever.  The ME is not exactly behaving itself, but I’m getting a certain amount of stuff done . . . and Nina and Ignatius are so golden.  I don’t know what we’d be doing without them.  They were here a couple of days earlier last week, they were here Friday, they had the temerity to take the weekend off^, were here again today and are coming back tomorrow.

^ Nina, who is clearly insane, booked some holiday to help her dad move and Ignatius has one of these all or nothing jobs and he’s in a mostly nothing phase at the moment.

‡‡‡ Let me say that I am glad to admit that I stopped finding young guys hot some years ago.  They’re so . . . you know, young.  I like the old beat-up ones that look like we might have stuff in common to, ahem, talk about.   But I might make an exception for this chap.  He is not that big and he’s not that bulky although you look at him and guess you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side in a pub brawl . . . but I’ve never liked the ripped gym-bunny look even when I was young.  I had a serious case of the hots for my blacksmith, many years ago when I had a horse, because he had major muscles from USE, you know?  The definition wasn’t much because he wasn’t doing gazillions of specialist curls but he was strong and I’ve always kind of swooned for strong, especially the easy-going, almost careless, strong-because-it’s-part-of-the-job-description kind of strong.  Also, turned out, once I apparently wasn’t going to turn into a Fainting in Coils, today’s hero has a really nice smile.  I hope his main squeeze appreciates him.

§ Here’s one of those big fat juicy ironies.  I hated the old plastic door and have rarely been as happy as when Atlas finally got around to putting the wooden stable-style door in that I’d bought yonks ago but there’s only one of Atlas and Peter or I keep pulling him off one thing to do something else.  But finally . . . YAAAAAAAY.  NICE DOOR IMPROVING GARDEN SIDE VIEW OF NICE HOUSE not to mention Aura of Sitting Room Within.  But if it had been the nasty old plastic door today the piano would have fit through it.  Because of the frame that the old door left behind—and which would have been an expensive ratbag to replace—Atlas had to install the new door slightly, um, in.  Thus narrowing the entrance/egress part of the deal.  Which I’d never really registered.  My bad.  Uggggh.  Disaster narrowly averted.

§§ And if this blog is a little less coherent than usual, well, forgive me, it’s been a rough week. . . .

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