Saturday, 18 October 2008


I thought I'd have a little change from the tales of my youth and fast forward a bit. Although written as fiction, this really did happen to me and mine. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty!


Our home in Islington was a large Victorian house divided into three flats. The ground floor flat housed a husband and wife that we hardly ever met, and a young married couple called Dave and Gemma lived in the flat above us.
The ground floor flat became vacant and so we asked the agents if we could take it over. It was a much larger flat than the one that we rented, and meant we could have a real kitchen at last.
As we weren’t moving house, only moving to the next floor, we decided that, with a little help from family, could move our furniture piecemeal down the stairs ourselves.
This surely would be an easy job. We would move each item straight down into the relevant room, thereby positioning everything roughly where we wanted it. The really heavy stuff such as wardrobes, sideboard etc. my husband James, my Dad and brother Peter could manhandle between them, with me yelling out the appropriate encouragement such as: “Mind what you’re doing!” and “be careful you don’t scratch my table-top!” and, occasionally “I really don’t think that’s a good idea!”
James and I had started moving the smaller things on Friday evening and it was now Saturday morning and time to get heaving with the larger items.
Everything went well for a while, and then it was time for the piano to be shifted. Originally professional piano movers had transported it from my mother-in-law’s house to ours. We had been amazed at the alacrity and ease with which they sped up two flights of stairs; the piano balanced on one man’s back while two others steadied things. Oh how very stupid we were to mistake professional artistry and experience for something that appeared to be the proverbial piece of cake!
We had already stripped the top, front, and lid from the piano to make it easier for them to handle, and all went well from the lounge to the bottom of the first flight of stairs. It was when the men were negotiating the 180-degree bend between the two flights of stairs that the house demolition started.
Somehow, the piano slipped, and one corner began deftly to push out, one by one, the banister rails that blocked its way. Suddenly it stopped. Completely jammed. With much yelling and grabbing, the three men tried to pull the piano out from amongst the banister rails, only to firmly drive the opposite corner of the piano into and through the plaster on the stairway wall.
It was at this point that Dave, Gemma, and their small son descended from the top floor flat. Their path was of course blocked very firmly by three grunting, puffing men, one slightly hysterical me and an upright piano that was wedged, it seemed forever, across the stairs between the wall and the banisters!
Dave, with a look of chagrin said: “We really do need to get down to the front door. Actually, we’re on our way to a wedding”.
It was only then that I realized that Dave was dressed in a smart, navy suit, complete with a floral buttonhole, and that Gemma was wearing a resplendent hat trimmed with an equally resplendent floral arrangement! Oh my God! They really were dressed for, and on their way to, a wedding. Gemma and her little boy retreated a few steps up towards her kitchen door, and Dave, realizing that he really didn’t have any other option, if he was to make the wedding at all, said: “Come on, I’ll give you a hand”
The men in unison, and now numbering four, managed to get the piano back in a straight line pointing down the stairs, but there still was no way they could make it turn the bend, try as they might. By this time, Dave’s beautiful, smart, navy-blue, wedding suit was covered in white plaster dust. His face was sweaty and his hair disheveled. The rest of us were beginning to feel rather embarrassed when James’ face suddenly lit up, as in idea struck him. Had I known the outcome of his idea, I’d have probably struck him too! “Let’s turn the piano upside down,” he said, “so that the wide keyboard area is over the top of the handrail. Then the narrower base will easily make the bend in the landing”
This was hailed by the others as a brilliant, “why didn’t we think of it earlier” idea. With more grunts and shouts of “one, two, three, over”, they turned the instrument, which had been our pride and joy, upside down … and all the keys fell out! With a discordant, clattering sound, they tumbled down the stairwell and into the quarry tiled entrance hall below.
Alas! This was to be the swan song of our beloved pianoforte because, although the keys could have been put back, there was also extensive damage to the hammers.
Dave and Gemma finally made their way, brushed and re-groomed, to their wedding celebrations, and our beautiful piano, that had been handed down from the last generation, was dragged unceremoniously into the back garden. There, sadly, it was hammered, hacked, and chopped into pieces small enough to dispose of. If any of you have ever attended a piano-smashing event at a local garden fete, you will know just how difficult and very, very noisy this act is!


Croom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Croom said...

Leeta what a wonderful story. I found it hilarious. I was about to say God bless to my computer for the night, well morning actually as it is now gone 3am! and creep to bed quietly so Dave didn’t wake.

Well I laughed so often and so loud that it woke Dave up. I have now had a telling off from a grumpy Dave that could not see the funny side of your story when I tried to read it to him! Thanks to him upsetting me I posted only half my comment (sorry for delete)

I am about to creep with head hanging to bed. Thank you for both the laugh and the telling off.
Tina x

Babs (Beetle) said...

Well that was hilarious, even though it totally confused me with all the name changes. Any piano playing musician should have known the repercussions of moving a piano ;O)

granny grimble said...

Sorry about upsetting the other half, but glad you liked it! Not funny at the time but it really had all concerned in fits shortly afterward (and forever more!)

Perhaps Dave will read it later and then forgive you for waking him up.


I changed the names because I orinally wrote it for insertion in a magazine, and thought that I'd better. I couldn't be bothered to go in and put them all back, or retype it from my book, it was a copy and paste job!
Yes everyone should have known what the outcome would be, I was too worried about the 'wedding guests' and my walls, and I think Arthur and Doug were past caring!

Jeanette Spain said...

That was funny and what a good story.
That poor couple going to a wedding I bet they laughed about it for years to come.
After all that for the piano to end up in the garden being smashed up.
More stories Leeta Please.

weechuff said...

Oh dear! That seems like just the sort of thing someone in our family would do, so I can't say I am surprised! I wish I could have been a fly on the wall. You could have earned £250.00 from 'Ive been Framed' had it been captured on cine film:0)

GoldAnne said...

lol leeta how funny and such a shame, poor poor piano!!!!