Tuesday night is saxophone lesson night and I have about thirty frantic minutes before the teacher arrives in which to make up for my week of utter indolence and neglect on the practice front.
So, there I am, torturing the poor innocent instrument for all it's worth, scales, arpeggios, the works, when the doorbell chimes.
Thinking it would probably be Don't Feed the Pixies (who shares music lessons with me), or (horrors!) the teacher himself come early, saxophone in hand, I go trotting down the stairs to open the front door.
As it turns out, it isn’t my partner in musical crime, nor indeed my musical Jedi Master, but a pleasant middle-aged lady who smiles and greets me as I stand squinting at her in the glare of the setting sun. She wants to sell me something, it would seem.
See sees my saxophone.
Now, she’s probably read somewhere that engaging a potential customer in friendly conversation is a good way to get them to warm to you, thereby increasing the likelihood of a sale.
She goes for it:
“Ooh, you’ve got a trumpet!” she gushes. An impressive opening, I think you’ll agree. I glance down at the instrument, just in case by some strange door-to-door magic, she has transmogrified my poor alto sax into the favoured weapon of Louis Armstrong. Nope, it’s still as it was.
“It’s a saxophone,” I reply, politely but coolly (what the hell are the notes in the B flat major arpeggio, dammit, I’ve forgotten them now what with this pesky distraction!).
Now, as I mentioned, the sun was setting over the houses opposite, and shining into my not-particularly-functional-even-on-a-good-day eyes, making me squint – a lot. Having messed up on the opening gambit, the lady’s now a bit wrong-footed, so I suppose we shouldn't really blame her for what comes next.
“Are you blind?” she blurts out. As complete non-sequitur, sales-clinching patter goes, this is classic stuff. Surely, I’ll buy anything now! Guess she missed the Diversity and Disability Awareness training then - along with Musical Instrument Recognition 101.
“Er, no,” I reply, slightly more frostily (that E flat scale isn’t going to practise itself, you know!). “I’m partially-sighted, actually.”
“Ooh, that’s a shame,” she says sadly. Her heart is sinking a bit now as it looks like I might not actually be able to use what she’s trying to sell me – whatever it is (she hasn’t actually got around to that bit yet, what with all the crazy saxophone/disability talk). She peers over my shoulder into the house in the vain hope that a fully-sighted, slightly less irritated musician-wannabe is hovering somewhere behind me, eager and ready to buy.
“Is there anyone else in the…?” she begins hopefully, almost rising up on her toes to see past me, as I continue to stare/squint unhelpfully, saying nothing (E flat, G, B flat…). “Only, I’m selling daily delivery subscriptions for the Daily Blather. Would you be interested?” That is, would you be interested - even though I think you are too blind to be able to read the teeny-weeny print, you poor thing?
“I’m sorry,” I tell her, “I get all my news from the internet. Good evening.”
“OK,” she sighs and wanders off to next door’s.
They’re Indian. I wonder how she’ll get on with them (“Ooh, you’ve got poppadoms!”, “No, it’s just some Pringles, actually.”… )