Sunday, November 10, 2013
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
If you've ever been to Atelier Ivaan, you've probably noticed that there is a beautiful cabinet grand piano in the store. It's a 1905 Chickering, the same piano that Glenn Gould played on as a child. I've had it for a long time and I play it fairly regularly, though not as regularly as Glenn did. His playing had probably surpassed mine when he was about four. On the other hand, I am still alive and Glenn's not, and in my case it's all about the journey, not the destination.
I recently saw some ten-year-old film footage of my nephew Angus and I doing a piano-violin duet and I was chagrined to observe that I played better then than I do now. So perhaps my present crankiness has something to do with that.
When strangers come into Atelier Ivaan, the piano is one of the first things they notice. Sometimes it takes them a while to get to the shiny stuff in the showcases. So the conversation goes like this:
THEM: There's a grand piano in here.
ME: Yes, I know.
THEM: Why is it here? Do you give lessons?
THEM: Then why is it here? Do you play it?
THEM: Would you like to play something for me?
Now, I know that there is a perfectly well-mannered way of responding in the negative to this question, but I can never think of it at the time, because I am too busy wondering what prompted them to ask the question. I mean, there's a telephone in here; would they care to listen to me make a phone call? My school books are usually here too. How'd they like to watch me do my homework?
So I'm trying to come up with a humorous but polite way of saying that the very last thing on earth I'd like to do is perform an impromptu recital for a total stranger who just wandered in off the street in the middle of working hours. So far my best line has been, "The only thing I'm playing today is the cash register." If you happen to think of a clever comeback, please let me know. All of my neighbours will thank you.