Words that I write

Words that I write...

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Portraits in Passing #2: The Pianists

I don’t want to be here. The train station is heaving with people and noise, and there’s nowhere to sit. 

I hear music and it momentarily calms me, centres. There’s a piano in the foyer, pushed up against a lift shaft. An old man is playing, his hat and scarf laid on top as if they belong there. There’s a scrap of paper in front of him with a list of songs on it, suggesting this is planned rather than impulsive. His hands run over the keys with the familiarity of decades. In between songs, he eagerly asks the listeners where they’re going, where their journey is taking them. I sense he comes here from time to time, maybe regularly, perhaps trying to counter a loneliness he feels. He looks happy for these moments, banging out show tunes and classic favourites. He’s playing for the crowd and a group gather around to listen to his gift to them.

An hour or so later I’m sat the other side of the lift shaft, reading a book. I hear a flurry of music; a soulful version of Summertime being played on the piano. I can’t see who’s playing, but it’s simply wonderful. I stop reading, unable to continue whens such beauty is being created. I sit, listening to the music and the talent that lurks behind every note. All too soon it ends, and I am dragged back to reality. Through the glass I can just see the top of a man’s head as he stands up to go, leaving a small crowd applauding behind him. He darts around the corner, and I see him fully for the first time; a smartly dressed business man in a suit, clutching his briefcase. His head is ducked, but I see the smile on his face; he plays for himself. 

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