Today was the day of Raul the piano tuner and although it might not be as dangerous a job as Marco the electrician, one must consider the universal comedy sketch of a piano falling from a great height and squashing the unsuspecting passer-by. Luckily we are on the ground floor, and we don’t have a grand piano, just a humble German upright from Leipzig which is probably 100 years old, I’m catching it up.
Having expert tradesmen in the room is satisfying, and it doesn’t matter what kind of expert they are, an expert baker like the one around the corner, an expert plumber, electrician or piano tuner, and watching Raul pull the piano apart and start working on it, you immediately knew that this was his planet. He pulled all the front panels off (I didn’t even know you could do that) and exposed the keys and the strings, and you realise that a piano is, in fact, a string instrument, you just don’t hit them directly, there’s a stage in between.
Inside there were issues, the piano was flat by 10 Hertz, but he didn’t just want to tune it all the way up because the strings might not be able to take it, they didn’t, and he broke eight strings on the way. This piano has not been loved for a really long time. At one point, he said, “No rats,” meaning that the rats hadn’t got in under the keys. But he found dead woodworms in the front. It was good because they were dead, he hoovered them away and brushed inside before starting the process that broke the strings. The higher strings mainly behaved, it was the lower ones, the more expensive ones, that didn’t like the attention – and the tension.
He tuned it up to a certain point and will come back on Friday, letting it settle might help the strings’ shock awakening. But then he went around the back and cut off the old cloth that hid the inside. There he found dead woodworms and live woodworms. Not good, but Olivia went with him to the shop to find a special agent that kills them. They came back not with a brooding dark assassin but a small tin with a long plastic nozzle to penetrate the woodworms’ holes. We’ll see progress on their death when he returns at the end of the week.
Raul arrived at 3 PM, but he was here for hours, extremely dedicated to the job at hand. In the meantime, our sessioneer friends Abby and Nick had arrived from Santa Fe. On their hols visiting Portugal and us, they came for dinner and to check out The Archive. Also, Kallie (and her partner Thadeu) who has been helping Olivia with the editing, the presentation, and the release of her poetry book Sleep for Dessert – available imminently. Lively chatter between the poets, the philosophers, the dentist, and the musicians. Olivia cooked a scrumptious dinner.
Music today was Elvis Costello’s Hey Clockface (2020), his 31st studio album. He’s nothing if not prolific and frankly I find it hard to keep up with him, but that he is an immense talent as a singer and a songwriter is beyond doubt. One might tire of his warbling controlled vibrato, but if you can get over that he’s a great lyricist and knows how to frame it all within tricky moving melodies. I like this album, but you have to like his shtick and I do and have since (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes (1977) and since the days of playing Oliver’s Army (1979) in a Twickenham wine bar in the late seventies. Still, like chocolate, however much you like it, there’s a limit and although his dad is from Birkenhead, my part of the world, I’m not sure he’s in my blood. Although I always loved I Want You (1986)