Piano Exploits 2




“He’s done it again,” came the exasperated tone down the phone, and a visit was hastily convened.


I had called at the house a few weeks earlier and had discovered an upright Challen piano with half the right leg chewed off.  Next to the piano stood a big, soft, black Labrador with a tail that knocked off everything within a two metre radius.   The dog was called Rigsby and had been named after the star of a comedy programme.


“Why Rigsby?” I had asked.


“He was rather slow at his toilet training when he was a puppy.  So we decided he had a Rising Damp problem.”  I chuckled at their explanation.


It looked quite comical really, as though the dog had taken just one bite out of the wood, but obviously it had chewed it some time. As the state of the leg was now so bad,  I took the other leg and made a replica  so that the match was pretty true.   Plans were then made to install a baby gate from the kitchen to the lounge to keep the dog out at night.


I revisited and was met by a tornado as the hound freed itself from its owner’s grasp and came bounding over to greet me.  Sure enough, there was now nothing left of the leg I was about to replace.

”Do you put up the gate at night?”  I asked. 

”Oh yes, but he did this one evening when we were watching television.”


The dog waved its tail furiously as though applauding himself, knocking a flower pot from a display on a nearby table.


“We’ll ask the vet what he suggests,” said the lady, a retired tall woman who had moved to Suffolk from London and who kept her house immaculately.  The dog was to be their exercise and was their excuse for taking  walks in the beautiful countryside.   It also meant that they got to know other people in the village quite quickly.


I made sure I kept a pattern of the leg I had replaced.


She rang me that evening. “A friend says we should put mustard powder on the leg.  Will that harm the wood?” 


I didn’t think it would and settled down for the evening.


Next day, there was another phone call.  She just said her name.


“How?” I enquired.


“He jumped over the fence in the night.  The dog is standing here with a yellow ring around its mouth, not the slightest bit bothered.” 


I arranged another appointment and said I would speak to a couple of friends in the trade.


My questioning just bought amused giggles and really unhelpful suggestions like putting land mines under the carpet near the leg or mouse traps!


I arrived the next week with leg number two.  


The dog didn’t bound up to me in its usual manner.


“Where’s Rigsby?” I asked.


From behind the lady a very forlorn Labrador stared at me.


“He had too much energy. The vet suggested we have him castrated.”


It seemed a severe punishment, but I could understand the woman’s frustration.


I refitted the leg after which the woman wanted an easy chair pushed right up against the piano.


I didn’t hear anything from the people for ages after that. The operation had obviously worked.  I rang eventually to arrange a tuning visit.


“How’s the leg?” I asked.


“The legs fine,” she said.  “The trouble is he's started eating the chair we put in front!”


Copyright: Peter Tryon 1st January, 2001