A state of flux

Saturday July 9, 2005

“Well, get on to them, and order one, why don’t you?” Graham asked.

“You know me. I hate spending money. And we bought a new mower yesterday.”

“Yes, and that’ll keep you occupied while I’m gone. And this will keep you occupied even more. Besides, you’ve always wanted one.”

So, with much trepidation, I picked up the phone and ordered a brand new Yamaha YDP-113 electronic stage piano. I’ve been researching the options for weeks. Considered and rejected the Clavinova—too expensive, and filled with features I don’t want. Considered several alternative digital pianos. Rejected for much the same reason. Looked at several digital keyboard/synthesizers and rejected them because they’re not pretty, partly, but mostly because they don’t have a full 88-key keyboard. Some of my reasons for choosing the one I’ve gone for are probably faulty but in the end a phrase in a review got me: close your eyes and you’d think you were playing and hearing a real grand piano. And that’s all I want. Besides, it was less than a quarter the price of the weighted-key alternatives.

So, on Wednesday, it will arrive, be unpacked and installed in the study, and I shall pull out my old dog-eared copy of Bach’s 48 and see if my ambition to be able to fumble my way through it once more is within the realms of the possible. Note that ‘fumble’. It’s close on forty-five years since I bade my piano farewell and I do not, really do not, expect to be able to do more than fumble. You can’t expect to get to public performance levels on the piano when you come back to it in your mid-sixties. What I do hope for, though, is hours of absorption, and a closer understanding of the keyboard pieces I’ve loved for so many years. The pleasure will be all mine. I don’t expect to produce anything like pleasure in the ears of any passing listener.

There’s a sub-text here, in case you’d not noticed. It’s signalled in that ‘while I’m gone’ remark from Graham.

Now, you all know how difficult I find it when Graham’s off doing his own thing. I get through, but I tend to count the days, and no matter how I try, the hours drag on me every day he’s not here. If I don’t watch it I can get very unhappy and rather mopey. Approaching the edge of black dog depression, if you will.

So, it’s like this. Graham has been offered, and has accepted, a full-time position as bar manager at the holiday camp we have loved for so many years. The one on the edge of the Quantocks, in West Somerset, a hefty stone’s throw from where we lived two houses back. It’s a seasonal job, running through the summer, with a few special openings over the winter for out of season conventions and such. And, above all, it’s the job of Graham’s dreams.

Needless to say, he has my full encouragement and blessings. If you don’t catch your dreams before they get out of reach, you regret the loss all the rest of your life.

Graham will be starting his new job towards the end of this month, and will live on site until the end of the season, early in October. Meantime, Dolly and I will hang on here, waiting to sell the house. When that happens we’ll join Graham in Somerset, leaving our furniture and effects in storage pending the purchase of a suitable house close by the holiday camp. We have our eyes on several candidates, including another lovely old wooden house that’ll suit us perfectly.

Our options have to be flexible. If we’ve not sold here then Graham will come home for the winter, returning for the special events. When we do sell, we’ll up roots and go live in temporary accommodation, probably on the holiday camp site, until we find and purchase the new place. Heaven forfend, but if the sale here drags on, we’ll repeat the exercise next year.

It’s going to be a long separation but, given the proper attitude, Dolly and I will manage fine. The new piano is part of that proper attitude. On Monday we’re going to look at another part of it—a new car. I’ve more or less settled on the Suzuki Ignis. Affordable, likeable, practical, automatic transmission, and air conditioning. The little blue Ford may last until Christmas as planned but there’s a possibility that Dolly and I will want to join Graham for a holiday break in mid-August and, quite apart from the benefit of an air-conditioned drive, I’m not too happy at the thought of relying on the Fiesta for a long trip with Dolly at my side. A break down with a cat as passenger is not a prospect I care to think about.

So, what with new jobs, new destinations, new mowers, new pianos and new cars, things here in the little house by the fens are in a state of flux.

“Are you sure you’ll be ok while I’m gone?” Graham asked, all anxiety and care.

“Of course I shall be. If I’m not I’ll squeal for help, never fear.”


Yamaha YDP-113 stage piano, photo from advertising literature
The new piano


One last thing. Sometime in the past twenty four hours my website hit meter recorded the three million mark. Not much to say about that, except: “Thanks!”



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