And I’m in Brighton again. Just had an epic game of “get the tape measure!” with Mao and now I’m writing to you while I wait for the hot water to warm up enough for my sleepy bathtime. Lots of driving again. Bergman and I are up to 1800 miles together.
I had another one of those mixed days. First up, a trip to Lewisham to give an accordion to Mister Allodi. One of the fixtures was loose. He replaced it for free as the instrument was purchased in his shop and therefore guaranteed. He’s an incredible man, Mister Allodi. I’ve written about him and his shop before, here. It really is the best accordion shop in the world.
This accordion is a workhorse, being used daily in Amelie the Musical at The Criterion. A beautiful show – one of Brian’s – and of course there’s nothing more French-sounding than an accordion. The fixture got loose which means you can’t lock the bellows shut. This makes it much easier to damage, especially if you’re in a place where other people might pick up your instrument. My accordion didn’t lock for the first three years I had it, and it would give me palpitations whenever somebody else picked it up.
As he fixed it he told his stories. He told me of a giant with rippling muscles who purchased a tiny tiny toy accordion. Why? Because he likes to play in the bath. He told of me others in my profession that have ruined their instruments through demonstrative playing – stretching the bellows out far and high for the look of it, with no thought to the valves and the integrity of the bellows. He disapproves of that. Accordions are like living things to him. He’s the accordion doctor. And he wants you to love your instrument as much as he does. But if you fuck your beautiful accordion up, his deft fingers and incredible love and knowledge will likely have it back and playing in seconds. He brought my ruined accordion back from the dead once. I had given up on it and just took it in speculatively when I was looking for a bag for my travel instrument. He fixed it in less than five minutes, all the while berating me for not bringing it in more quickly.
He has a new thing in stock right now and I want one. Roland have released a digital accordion. Like an eighties synth but an accordion. Oh my God. I want to see if you can get it to play screams on the keys. It looks like a lovely toy and potentially something very theatrically useful. “They’ve been selling really well considering I never push them,” he tells me, and I get it. I’m immediately thinking of all the mischief I could achieve… Plus you can get them to play backing tracks which is definitely gonna make busking easier – although you’d be double-fucked in the rain.
I’ve got enough stuff though. First thing I have to do is to process the crap I’ve already got. And I’ve got to get properly practicing and improving on the accordion before I can justify any further investment there. I’m still a bit shit at it.
Instead of practicing Christmas songs, I’m driving around getting accordions fixed and having a jolly time with friends and Lou. Since I was in the congestion charge zone anyway, I picked Brian up from work and drove him back to Croydon from Bond Street. Croydon lies between London and Glyndebourne so it was a good opportunity to have a bit of extended time with him while on my way to get Lou from work. It’s always good hanging out with that fucker. I tried to persuade him to come to Brighton. He didn’t bite.
Here’s Bergman at Glyndebourne, duskily awaiting the arrival of Lou. It’s the only photo I took all day.
I’m at hers now with Mao. She’s at her friends place with Izzy and Tessy. We are slaves to cats.