• Chis Caton-Greasley

Piano Dreams on a Grand Scale




One day I’d have a grand piano. That seemed practically impossible as we lived in a small maisonette. My Husband, John, knew life was safe…until


A pupil told me her granddad was selling a heart shaped piano to a music shop. A phone call later (not to John) the cogs were in motion…How was I going to convince John that I needed a grand piano. Would Mum store it until we had a bigger house, a ‘minor point’? All this had to be within 24 hours as the shop was coming on Monday morning and it was Saturday night.


On Sunday, I managed to convince John to come with me to see it, but he was adamant we were NOT going to buy it. That was until he saw it, then most of my work as done; you could almost hear the ‘major’ calculations as he was working out where to find the money.


The piano was a 4’6” baby Grand piano with Ivory keys. The families’ dog had chewed the edges of the pedal box assembly and the grandchildren had scorched the varnish on the lid, a little flat, but it was perfect for us.


After a good dose of Poulenc and Gershwin we decided to have it. Mum offered to store it for us, the condition being that she could use it when the need arose. (Some of her pupils may remember two pianos squeezed into the teaching area)


The carrier was booked; nothing could go wrong; could it?


The BIG DAY, The removal company was due between 11.00 and 12 noon. At 10.00am a phone call

“Can we leave it till t’morrow, we’re a bit pushed out right now?”

The answer a firm “NO!”


11.00am. Piano paid for, it started to rain, and we waited. It kept raining, we kept waiting. One and a half hours late they arrived. The rain and I held our breath long enough to move the piano.


As they dis-assembled the piano many stories began to unfold of pianos going upstairs, around corners, through windows…none having been seriously damaged. Soon the piano was legless, topless and balanced on a slipper, slowly being strapped down by many blankets, straps and buckles.


I held my breath as, supported by 4 men, the piano swayed between two very close walls. In time, it seemed like an age, we arrived at the van. The back was opened and it was totally full of house-hold goods, uprooted plants, pots, bikes etc…


Where was my piano going to go?


I must have looked rather worried and exasperated because the elder gentleman advised me that anything would fit, with a little persuasion. In a flash the van was re-arranged and the piano squeezed in. the lid, pedal box assembly and legs were still in the house.


“What car d’ya ‘ave luv?” I was asked by a younger gentleman.


“Volvo 340 hatch” I cautiously replied


“Good, pop t’seats down and we’ll fit the rest in thur” I didn’t really have that much choice.


We were off at last, 2 hours late and just in time to rendezvous with mum’s first pupil! As we pulled up the elder gentleman nearly had heart failure when he saw seven steep steps ascending to the house. I assured him, quickly, that it was to go in the back, two small steps and a swamp, oops lawn.


As the piano came through the back door, the pupil came through the front. She couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw a piano coming through the back doors. After a quick explanation and apologies, she was given an impromptu week off.


Two of the three legs were attached, we held our breath as it descended from vertical to horizontal, the last leg was attached just before it was level. As the piano was moved to its resting place I held my breath again as the back leg bowed under the weight. The castors were solid, never to move again, so it was lifted not rolled.


Badly out of tune it required a good play in. It had been played more in 3 days than it had in 10 years, having been an expensive ornament. It now has a lovely warm tone. An older pupil of mums noticed the keys and said “Yikes a dead elephant”. You can’t buy Ivory keys; it is so nice to “Tickle the Ivories” literally.


Since then we have bought Mum’s house, not because we didn’t want to move the piano I assure you….


We have had two children who walked into just about every point or curve. When the third child was due we had to sell this wonderful instrument for a bigger car to seat 5. It broke my heart the day it went. Years on I still found myself dreaming of my Grand piano and out of the blue one day, a phone call,


“Do you happen to want a Grand Piano…?”


Oh boy…I had the house, the space….Would John go for it again.


“How much?” I hesitantly replied…


“It hasn’t really been played much, it’s just an ornament. It was given to us by our Pastor so you can have it free, just collect it”


How many readers really think John believed me….LOL…can you picture the discussion that night


”Well there was this guy who phoned up and said we could have his piano”

“Yes sure, we have been here before, remember you wrote that story on it”

“Yes but it is true, ring him and check”


A little while later, a friend who has a removal firm, and my miracle piano arrived.


A co-incidence, well, maybe, but I like to see it as my little present from above. It is played daily, in much better condition than the other one and takes centre place in my living room. Piano dreams….on a grand scale.


Next time I will be careful what I dream about.


(2020 Update: This all happened in the 1992 - early 2000. We now have 3 children, who are adults and are on our 3rd grand piano which we bought new and will stay with us for many more years. 2 of our children now teach with us at Stalybridge Music Academy.)

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