excerpt from 'Starting from Victoria' pp. 46-47 (345 words)

excerpt from 'Starting from Victoria' pp. 46-47 (345 words)

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Starting from Victoria

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The head clerk of the firm in Bond Street where I was employed for 17 years was a Sunday School teacher and occasionally organised little concerts for the entertainment at work-houses, infirmaries, hospitals, etc. and generally roped me in to act as accompanist. One evening the head clerk and I, accompanied by two young ladies and a young man went to a hospital to sing and do a turn or two in each ward—four of them, starting from the top. To my utter dismay, instead of having a piano there was only a small harmonium, the idea being to carry this from ward to ward. I had always entertained a horror of these squeaky little blighters and had never attempted to master one. I at first flatly refused to attempt to touch the thing but when it was pointed out how disappointed the patients would be if there was no concert, I had perforce to say I would do my best. The patients did not have a concert quite as they expected—my turn as a commedian [sic] not having been announced. When I sat down to try and play and keep my feet going on the bellows, I was utterly at sea. I seemed to be doubled up with my knees in my eyes and at my first attempt at pumping the infernal thing I pushed it clean off the temporary platform that had been erected. Thereafter it was better than many a pantomime—someone had to stand behind and hold the slippery customer and when I was playing I forgot to pump, and when I pumped I forgot to play, so except for an occasional spasmodic squeak from the wretched creature the prominent features of the entertainment were the valiant attempts of the vocalists to keep going and their indignation with me. […] It was only by a supreme effort I did not laugh audibly when the young male vocalist started on, “The lost chord”.  Need I say, he never found it - at least not that evening.

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excerpt from 'Starting from Victoria' pp. 46-47 (345 words)


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