The Piano Man arrived.

Seeing that my piano is so old and so important, I had seen fit to engage one of the leading Piano Men in the country. I checked his credentials carefully. The GIF image of a piano on his website seemed plausible enough, so I invited him for an initial consultation.

Terribly well-spokenly, he introduced himself with the flourish of a man to whom flourishy introductions come with ease. I sort of said ‘hullo’ in return, and we had one of those awkward waiting-for-the-kettle-to-boil chats. He seemed like a thoroughly nice chap. Suitably beNescafed, I led him through to the object of his assignation.

“Oh my goodness, what a simply wonderful piano!” he exclaimed.

“Yes, I…”

“Wonderful! Beautiful!”

“It’s been in my family for…”

“Let’s look inside. Oh! Gracious! This is marvellous!” He ran his finger over the mahogany like one about to tuck fifty quid into its garter.

“Yes, it’s…”

But it was no good. He was transfixed and lost in pianoland. I watched as he undressed the resigned instrument, disrobing it of swathes of panelling until its innards were exposed and vulnerable. With expertly probing fingers he worked gently away at its strings, feeling its felts, squeezing the dampers, uttering little cries of satisfaction at each turn.

At some point I thought I should butt in again.

“So how much do you reckon?” I asked, cutting straight to the chase.

“Ah – well it’s in beautiful, beautiful condition. Beautiful. But – there are things that are wrong and that need a complete overhaul or replacing.”

“So how much do you reckon?” I asked.

“But on the whole, a beautiful instrument. So rare to find one like this.”

“So how much do you reckon?” I asked.

“Well,” he pondered. “You could skimp slightly on one or two things. But some aspects do need doing urgently.”

“Like what?” I enquired. The answer he gave was a bit like when you get up to about the letter ‘M’ of that ‘I went to the Supermarket and I bought…” game, but with things that can go wrong with a piano.

So how much do you reckon?” I asked. By this point I wasn’t actually sure whether it was me speaking that phrase, or whether my voice had been sampled for a rap music track.

“Hummmm…” he said.

“Yes…?” I asked.

“Well the transport from here will be around sixty pounds,” he offered finally. “I’ll try to get it cheaper for you, but I think we’d better allow about sixty pounds. Just to be safe. So that’s [draws breath, frowns, thinks, uses fingers as counting device] mutter mutter sixty pounds mutter mutter possibly cheaper mutter no sixty pounds mutter mutter…

“Around five thousand pounds,” he concluded.

“Righhhhhht,” I said. I could hear the other items of furniture laughing from the other room.

I did some sums in my head whilst he re-dressed the piano. I often don’t read the newspaper on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. That would save one pound 20p a week. I am no good at maths but I knew it would take me ages to save up.

We chatted cordially before he took his leave. I promised to call him with my decision.