Some of my friends gave me a ukulele as a graduation gift. I've done a lot of music in the past, playing the violin, piano, and voice, and almost going to The Royal Acadamy of Music back in the mid/late '90s. However, I've never played the guitar, so the ukulele is a whole new venture, but my friends thought that it'd be an ideal instrument for me as it's light, low-energy, and easy to play sitting (or lying) down. I've only had the ukulele for two weeks, but I'm greatly enjoying learning it.
I went into town the other day in Taz - my electric wheelchair - to get some ukulele music and another book to teach myself as the book I'd previously bought doesn't give enough practise at the skills it teaches. I went to the main music shop in Newcastle city centre - Windows. It's a fantastic shop, and one that I almost lived in as a teenager with a love of making music. It's also in the most beautiful old arcade - Central Arcade - which was first built as a commercial exchange and newsroom in 1869, but then rebuilt and opened as an arcade in 1906 after a terrible fire.
Windows has been in Central Arcade since 1908, so only just after the redesigned arcade was opened, and because of its age, Windows doesn't have a lift at all. Most of the instruments and all of the sheet music are upstairs, so this made my quest to get ukulele music a little tricky.
I made my way to the counter at the far end of the shop, along the narrow aisles of the ground floor, past the expensive digital pianos and all the CDs and records (yes, they even have some vinyl!), and I asked the guy at the till for assistance from upstairs. No problem. All I had to do was wait at the bottom of the stairs, which were all the way back from where I'd come.
After a short wait a lovely young lady came down with lots of books she thought might be useful (I had explained to the man at the till what I was after), and also lots of advice as she plays the ukulele herself. Marvellous, and typical of Windows to have knowledgeable staff. I decided to buy a few helpful-looking books, and I followed her back down the narrow aisles to the till to pay. Still no problem ... until it came to leave...
There wasn't much space between the till and the end of the central racks full of vinyls and CDs; certainly not enough space to turn Taz around, so I had to reverse. However, I was reversing in a tight little space and not concentrating fully because a) I wasn't feeling too well; and b) I was trying to hold onto the rather large box of books I'd just bought in a carrier that was threatening to slip off my knee.
I reversed confidently into a set of free-standing metal shelves full of CDs, only now they weren't so full of CDs. I moved forward to disentangle myself from the shelves, but they had somehow attached themselves to the bottom of my wheelchair. The whole lot fell over. The lovely lady picked up all the CDs, and the grumpy-faced man who had earlier been on the till detached the shelves from Taz. Not so helpfully, he put them back to exactly the same place they had been, and when I then tried reversing again, I promptly crashed into them again. They were now rather bent. I eventually managed to turn Taz around and scoot up the aisle without damaging anything else. The grumpy-faced, and now grumpy-natured, man held the door open for me as I left.
I hope he read the sticker on the back of Taz. It reads, 'Chaos. Panic. Disorder. My work here is done.'