Pianos: Fleets, flyovers and fireside folly.

I tune the busy pianos of the event hire fleet often enough to have given them more distinctive names than mere model numbers with abbreviations of their serial numbers. But the latter is more socially acceptable in conversation. Whitey crosses over from no-nonsense serial number log to an epithet befitting a pet.

White squares with white triangle.

A series of clients idly desiring 'triangle pianos' has shaped my language.

Behind (or in front of) the scenes.

 These triangles don't just move themselves, you know.

I coax Little Whitey into shipshape for a shipsters' shindig. Amid a gruelling sonic sea of stage construction, staggered squadrons of helicopters (has Tony Abbott's surveillance kick gone too far?) even the bloody big boat had to sound its giant klaxon repeatedly as I buried my head in the piano to hear it. Just another day at the office. Bring on the next tuning in a library (they do happen). 

Silent siren (it's just everything else that is making a racket).

Oh, I get it - fish finger!

Today Whitey can glimpse the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but from the north side. 

I'm convinced that a new music festival in a groovy grungy venue is no place for Whitey. Surely a wedding wish-list (and the marriage itself) has been compromised as Whitey moonlights in an underground world usually reserved for black triangles.

It's not my favourite time of day. I'm often awake, but I'd prefer not to be. I'm a night owl, or as it should more correctly be termed... an owl. I leave home by car at 6:06am and I'm stalking piano prey at 6:20. I love where I live that the trip is so short. No sign of my piano patient. Patience.

Is that silhouetted square the piano truck?

Telltale clues.

Defying gravity.

It's the big black triangle today.

On your marquees. Get set. Go! In a setting shaping up to be as sweaty as any of Roy and HG's idle jockstrap references, one can only hope that Whitey's considerable experience with such venues will help.

One of my too-early jobs required me to mobilise before any known (to me) public transport options had rubbed their sleepy eyes. I committed to cycling in Dutch commuter fashion. Unusually vertical but unremitting rain saw me really Euro it up, with an umbrella held in one hand as I rode. It's worth it to minimise the amount of moisture that trickles down your neck and wets your dry, dry inner layers, and nobody has perfected windscreen wipers for spectacles. Perhaps I'm a wimp. Probably. I photographed my rig upon arriving home from the job (still before I'd normally wish to rise).

January 28th 2015. Sydney received its heaviest two-day rainfall in nineteen months. This was Day Two, yet my parsimonious programming still saw me determined to avoid paying for parking in the Casino precinct.

A departure in darkness (I didn't know it was dark at 5am) had me decide that adding some meagre front illumination was wise (the rear was sorted). I grabbed the Aldi light from my tuning bag, swaddled it in cling wrap and taped it to my handlebars. Somehow all my dodgy waterproof items (garbage bags to protect my kit, a raincoat styled for the 65-year-old hobo-about-town, and the only brolly I could find) are black. OK, gently does it, with only one brake (except when I sacrifice the brolly). It's slippery, dark, with many a puddle... and many a footpath as my preferred route.

Twenty minutes squandered securing a contractors' pass, I still put the punk in punctual. All my gear is dry and so am I, mostly. Documenting the time could be handy if I encounter no one and am accused of being a no-show for the tuning (or late). It has never happened, but just in case. I realise that any phonetograph is time-coded (with location data too, more than likely) but this tradition persists for these early jobs, perhaps to congratulate myself on being a grown-up, and to exchange First World Problems with my dearest mate and partner in piano pampering.

This owl deserves an award for being this early. Large versions of the statuettes across the stage look to be small ones perched atop the piano (almost). Only a tiny percentage of the event hire tunings are at such undogly hours (yes, undogly).

At my next tuning for the same event (with the piano now re-positioned backstage) I find that the actual statuettes (and a bottle o' bubbly) are right there next to the piano.

Another day, place, and piano. An absurd but highly recognizable prop is wrangled into position as the scene is set around me as I tune.

Tuning with intent, within tent. Another sultry sweatbox.

I arrive for the follow-up tuning to find the piano wedged between all manner of gear, with a spaghetti of leads (and mics) inside it. I'd happily (sort of) have just shimmied in, done what I could to move the electrics for access, and got on with it. Instead I'm greeted with a caring flurry of activity where the crew moves piano, electrics and lid to do the best to roll out the red carpet for me.

These jobs can often be quite time-pressured, and if it is quiet, there is always the thought that it could get noisy soon, so don't dally. Only when I reviewed this snap did I notice the crew's prop-stick 'fail'. The long stick belongs on the inner of the two locator cups. The outer cup is for the short stick. I usually close the lid for protection when I'm done, but with the soundie's spaghetti and limbo stick awaiting re-positioning, I opt for the short stick.

Cheek blocks roasting on an open fire. The fire is one of those gas-powered impostors but the heat is real. I document the event hire piano's dubious location in one of Sydney's many heritage houses, in case someone later complains about a too-tropical treble. I saw no one. I circumnavigated the building, spying the piano through large picture windows. I gained access through an open door entering a kitchen. Normally an organiser might hear tuning and greet me, but no, not a soul. I finished and left.

Soon there were phone calls from my employer (via the client) asking me to describe the location of the piano I had tuned. I was about to launch into a 'educational' tirade about this foolhardy fireside folly, but it became evident that the client's question was actually - which piano did I tune - as a result of there being so many pianos in the house. Oh, and how did I gain access to the premises? Well, I shimmied under and over a series of visible laser beams... and rest assured, madam, I did not tune any of your wretched untuneable heritage square pianos, that's why you hired a proper piano (probably).

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