Dazed and Confused: Tim Davey
I once used to dream of walking into a crowded pub, sitting down at their old upright piano lurking in the corner, then proceeding to belt out some raucous rock'n' roll or boogie-woogie blues, a sort of cross between Chas 'n' Dave and Little Richard
It never happened. Nor will it. For the very simple reason I cannot play the piano. Though I am still very envious of anyone who can.
Growing up, we never possessed an abundance of musical instruments in our household. Certainly not a piano. The closest we ever got to musicianship was one Christmas when for some reason I demanded a ukulele.
It duly arrived but I was no George Formby. Apart from some manic finger-picking for a few days it lay unloved until we moved house, when, I believe, my father put it on a bonfire. He had a habit of doing that. I think the same flames consumed my Hornby-Dublo clockwork train set and Matchbox 1953 Coronation coach and horses.
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I'm sure he'd have made one heck of a blaze if we'd had a redundant piano to dispose of, too.
In fact, I recall a time, I think it was the 1970s, when upright pianos everywhere came in for a real bashing.
Piano-smashing contests were quite the rage, seeing who could reduce one to match-sticks in the fastest time.
And now, it seems, we are falling right out of love with them all over again, to the extent that world-famous department store Harrods has announced the closure of its piano department after 118 years.
Back in the Sixties, when the West Country's own chart-topper Russ Conway was tinkling the ivories on every TV nightly and a young Reg Dwight, aka Elton John, was setting out on the road to becoming a piano-toting rock legend, some 14,000 pianos were sold. Every pub and bar still had one. Loads of homes had also passed their pianos down from generation to generation.
But now annual sales have fallen to almost a quarter of that 1960s figure.
I assume the fact we all tend to live in shoe-box size homes has something to do with it, though I'm assured by someone who is au fait with the world of piano lessons that by way of contrast to the sales figures, there's still an eagerness to learn how to play.
Presumably, they then go home and play on their super-slim, electronic keyboards.
If this pressure on our living space continues apace it could mean a popularity boost for the ultimate in space-saving keyboards, an instrument beloved by bearded Aussie icon Rolf Harris – the Stylophone. Even I might be able to get a tune out of that.