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Now that I find myself in retirement maybe I will have the leisure to indulge my passions.

I came to Wikipedia in search of an entry on one Americus Backers, an early piano designer, innovator and builder whilst researching material for "that book" - you know, the one everybody says I should write when I tell them my stories about the funny and awaful things that happened to me when I was a piano tuner, technical advisor and historian, a music journalist and maggazine editor and man about London.

But as you can see, I ended up writing the2,500 word edit for the stub I found in order to give him his rightful place in piano history.

Well, that is, if I have time. City College Norwich and the University of East Anglia have co-opted me in to help out with the training of their social work and medical students. Both institutions pride themselves in being service user led. Well, I've been a service user the whole of my life, starting with my earliest memories which are of a kindly old man with big spectacles poiing things into my eyes and social workers and psychiatrists trying to determine whether I could tell them whether I was able sense anything of the world around me at all.

So now I find myself consorting with the government inspectir of education fot Eastern England and sitting in judgement over degree syllabi.

I thought to write the book because I had to give up my career because of multiplying disabilities - a shattered shoulder and chest an a road accident, much surgery and physiothreapy, an exrcruciating attack of sudden onset glaucoma and the collapse of my windpipe that left me with sleep apnoea. No wonder my hair all fell out!

So I can't tune or play pianos anymore. Nor can I play to any standard on the guitar. My beautiful early Yairi and trusty old dishpan-sized Hofner Verithin are too big or me to tuck under my arm nowadays.

Well, maybe I can't play but I can sing - sometinng I've done since my grandfather built me a bedside radio in 1953 - and singing is the only exercise you can do for the trachea.

I migraed from Listen With Mother to school choirs, a rock band, folk clubs, a classical ensemble and now two modern groups.

Bigger Skky is a community project that commissions new choral works from modern composers who have never written for voice before and performs them at the prestigious Norfolk and Norwich Festival each May. Composers have included Barbara Thompson, Andy Sheppard and Dennis Rollins with his four-piece funk backing band Badbone & Co. We're adding to the jazz choral reprtoire and making a ame for ourselves.

Sing Your Heart Out is an Arts in therapy group specializing in providing a suppolrtive and caring atmosphere where vulnerable people - especially those with mental problems - can come together and enjoy the clinical benefits of group singing. This group has also performed at the Festival and has been on Radio 4 and made a film shown on television during National Mental Health Week in October 2007.

...AND THEN[edit]

I began to develop my interest in all things to do with keyboard instruments during my training as a piano technician at what was the London College of Furniture Musical Instrument Technology Department between 1979 and 1982 (before it was absorbed into the London Guildhall University).

I successfully gained distinction (winning the City & Guilds Bronze Medal for highest marks obtained in the British Commonwealth for my performance in 1980) in my City & Guilds 563 Stringed Keyboard Instrument Design and Manufacture modules as well as graduating as a piano tuner.

Since I had earned a reputation for advanced technical knowledge during my training (owing to the fact that I had studied mathematics, physics and human performance in my first degree from Loughborough University of Technology. I specialized in the preparation of grand pianos for student practice, professional performance and recording, spending very little time on home visits to domestic piano owners.

Spending your nights, weekends and public holidays working around performance and recording schedules may not be your idea of a life but I found it infinitely preferable to office politicking, pub lunches and nights out whth the boys that characterized my post graduate life as an electronics engineer working in the computer environment in the heyday of the mainframe during the 1970s.

Once I had courted and married my wife I much preferred her company to anyone else's and the music industry of which I became a part enabled me to take her out for wonderful evenings at both public and pricate conceerts (not to mention the post -erformance entertainment and feasting) where I had prepared the pianos.

My wife also gave me my entree into personal computing since she is a software wizard with a first class honours degree in information science. This gave me a head start and a reputation as someone to go to for technological and computer-related advice in a music business that was very slow and hesitant about adopting the PC and exploring its possibilities in recording, performance and music publishing.

That led to fruitful partnerships with Microsoft and Intel and my early entry to the World Wide Web via a portal from Microsoft's first Network that was established as part of Windows 95 dwith its first iteration of Internet Explorer. And so I became a regular visitor to computer trade shows and an early reviewer of computer games from humble text-based offerings through colour graphics drawings to the photo and cinema quality productions we take for granted today.

While working on the flagship models of top-notch pianomakers whose design and manufacture were rapidly changing with the introduction of computer aided design and robotic production, I would find myself speculating on the advances in design and technology that had brought about and developed keyboard instruments from their earliest incarnations to their present and future state.

During my training, I had visited the major public collections of historic keyboard instruments during which e students had been allowed to examine in detail and to play those that were in a suitable condition. I now determined to experience every historically significant instrument I could find in Great Britain and I was fortunate enough to gain admittance to private as well as public collections and individual examples.

My progress in this was smoothed by my appointment in 1983 to the editorship of the Piano Tuners Quarterly magazine and my success in placing individual articles and reguar columns in trade and mainstream magazines, both those specializing in music and general lifestyle and general intereest titles.

When I had to give up all of this because of mounting disability, I wondered as I turned my back on London and found a spot on the map where I could make a new beginning how I would take to the prospect of 40 years of inactivity.

As you see, activities found me and now I wondeer whether I wwill ever have the leisure to take my eye surgeon's advice - to see what I can of the world before my remaining 2% vision deserts me. Will I get to visit The Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Universities of Leipzig and Rome and still be able to use my credentials to gain access to the three remaining (mostly) original Cristofori pianos?

If I do, maybe I'll do another Wikipedia page edit.

--Guidewell (talk) 14:00, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

---THE END... for now[edit]