Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Objects of Affection

Where to start this post...?

I had a bit of a blub today.  Over (literally) an inanimate object.   I expect it wasn't just about saying goodbye to said object, it was about saying goodbye to what it represented.

In 1977/8, when I was 11 or 12,a new shop opened in our local town. It sold Yamaha Electone organs.  Such amazing instruments, such fantastic sounds, so clever.   I went in often and tried "playing" them.  They were all hugely desirable, and hugely expensive.

My dad came with me one day.

I'd had premium bonds for years, I had several hundred pounds invested.   We cashed them in  and my parents put the rest of the money (a huge sum, probably four or five times what I had in premium bonds), and bought me a Yamaha C55.  It lived in our hallway.

My mother and I had lessons at the shop for a few weeks, and then we had lessons privately.   My organ teacher had a covetable D85, which had a third keyboard. I loved it.

Of course, no one ever wants to hear you practice, so I learned to play for my own pleasure.   I picked it up fairly quickly. Eventually, I stopped going for lessons and I never started again.  I still played occasionally.

When I was 18 my parents moved away taking the organ with them.  Their new home was damp, so the C55 suffered a bit.     Years later, my parents were raising money for a building project, so  I bought the organ from them. I could have got the same organ closer to home for less than half the price and a quarter of the hassle of transporting it over 200 miles.   

WHen I came to play it, it was in a bad way from the damp.   I got a repair man out, and he fixed a couple of the keys so that it was playable.  I picked it up again, although I never improved from where I was when I stopped having lessons. 

When we moved house 17 years ago it took three of us (DH, me, and my strapping SS2)  to get it up the stairs,   and nearly killed us.    We swore that we would never again do such a thing.  

It got played infrequently,  in spurts of interest.

The odd key would start going.  DH  took a look at it, and provided what turned out to be a temporary fix.   I thought about getting a new one.    Actually I thought about getting a D85.   I watched on Ebay when they came up... they were all so cheap.  But I couldn't imagine how we'd get a new one up stairs, the D85 was even heavier than the C55.  Besides, I didn't play it often enough, it was a waste of money.

As the years passed, I realised that there would be no point in buying my revered  D85. It would be just as likely to go wrong as my C55. If I was going to get a "new" organ, I should get something much newer.  Every so often I would sign up for an Ebay alert, but I always unsubscribed in the end. It was easier to stick to what I know.

Until now.

A few months ago,  two of my C55's features stopped working.  It didn't stop me playing, but it was annoying.  I kept thinking about buying a new organ.  I looked at what was available on Ebay.   I looked at other websites.   I was only interested in a "better" yamaha (using a comparison chart from a Dutch site). 

A few weeks ago, I sat down to play my C55, and knew  that I needed to do something.  I again trawled Ebay, for both the current and completed listings, to see what sort of thing was around, and for what price.    I was aware that my C55 had no value, and that the best I could hope for was that someone would take it away.   I steeled myself for them ripping it apart and taking it downstairs in pieces. 

I emailed a local organ repairer, who specialised in Yamahas.  I offered him my C55, free of charge.  Nothing back.

Eventually, DH and I travelled to see someone who was selling a range of organs, not just Yamahas.  Hew was a lovely chap.  I was amazed - actually a bit horrified -  to see what the more modern organs did.  Pretty much everything I had learned about playing could be thrown out of the window, because the modern synthesiser organs do everything themselves.  I wasn't sure I wanted something like that.

I told the chap that I wasn't ready.

When I got home, I realised that it really was make or break time.   The C55 had to go, it wasn't reliable enough to play any more, so it might as well go.  And the question was,  should I replace it?


And then I had an email from the manufacturer of a particular range of organs, one of which I had seen when we visited the organ chap.   I had contacted them to ask them some questions about whether their organs come apart for transport. The lady who replied was very helpful. Not only did she answer my question, but she told me they had such and such a model in stock;  they offered a long warranty, they would deliver, they would take my C55 in p/ex,  and they would give me a lesson on how to operate the organ.   They were asking more than the organ chap,  but for a slightly better organ.

In the end, the fact that it was the manufacturer's direct site and the fact that they were offering me tuition made me decide to take the plunge.

So today I was clearing the room where the organ lives so that we could get in there when the time comes.  I sat down to play, and while I played, I told my C55 what was happening.  Two of the things that weren't working on it, worked.  

I cried a bit.  And then I gave it a hug (which is why I was literally crying over it). 

I'm relieved that DH wasn't around to witness it.  

I'm not changing my mind though.



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