Today was a day dominated by the fact that this morning, I was due to go to the doctor’s surgery to get the results of my monitoring review and blood test taken a fortnight ago. The news was generally good apart from one issue where the practice nurse and the supervising doctor thought I needed to increase my dosage of one particular piece of medication (which I had been a little remiss in taking in the first place, I must say) Nothing is perfect but I was more pleased than displeased with the results of my review. I was particularly impressed by the nurse conducting my review who I had not seen before. We had a pretty grown up conversation including some discussion of the science behind some of my results and this is quite refreshing these days. I asked her, though, if I could have a printout of my bloodtests (given that they test about 20 things in a full blood assay) and she did not know how to interrogate the computer system to achieve what I wanted, and have had before. I asked the reception staff on the front desk and they, too, struggled a little to generate the printout I required expeditiously. I can only conclude that they are not asked for this very often as it seems a bit of a kerfuffle to provide data which, after all, is about ones self. Then Meg and I popped into Waitrose for a coffee but none of our regulars were in evidence so we drank our coffee in relative peace. Then it was a case of getting home and enjoying our fish pie which we generally consume each Friday.
Yesterday, when I wrote about a trip to the Worcestershire countryside, I was a little disengenuous becase I did not want to reveal too much until the time was ripe. We were actually on a pre-arranged trip to pick up a Casio keyboard which was a very big seller several years ago. I put in an offer for the keyboard which included both the specialised stand and also the power supply (sometimes, these are omitted from the listings when this product is offered on eBay). The seller and I agreed a price and the item was sold on a ‘collection only’ basis which I did not mind in this case as Meg and I could enjoy quite a pleasant trip to the address in a little village near Malvern. Having got this home and installed (not there there was anything to install) I am more delighted. Now that I have practised the ‘Old Hundredth’ hymn tune using on online keyboard, I could then try it for real and an pleased to say it was almost note perfect on the first rendition. What is so innovative about these Casio keyboards is that the keys look very similar to those of a normal piano i.e. not toy like. But there are several incredible features about tbis piece of technology which is evidently aimed at those teaching themselves the piano. Firstly, there are 100 built in ‘tunes’ of which over one third are classical excerpts. A second feature is the instruments that can be emulated and there are 100 of these. So far, I have favourites of ‘Church Organ’ (surprise, surprise) but I am also quite impressed by the offerings of a Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Tenor Sax and so on. To complement this there is a list of 100 rhythms which I do not envisage using very much at all. To assist learners, there is an assumption that many of the songs have a ‘left hand’ (background) component and a ‘right hand’ (melody) component. To help one practice, you can only play the melody part by turning off the left hand and supplying this oneself. Similarly, one can turn off the melody part and supply this over the background. There are also a series of preprogrammed chords in all of the major chords but I have not had the time to exeriment with this. However, whilst I have had this unit for less than day I am still quite busy hunting out little bits of simple classical music which I can just play with the right hand (Pachobel’s Canon springs to mind) and then I want to see if I can master about one simplified (i.e. right hand only) piece per week so that my skill set can gradually improve. I am hopeful that as Meg learnt the piano in her youth, some of these skills can be retrieved from deep memory if only ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’. Incidentally, whilst browsing on eBay for electronic keyboard, I saw a Yamaha which is a similar unit to the Casio entered into an auction starting at about £20. I watched the bidding in the final stages and there must have been an auction frenzy as the price shot up at the last moment to £81 but, there again, I suppose a Yamaha must have the edge over a Casio. But it was fascinating to watch – and had the effect of making me even happier with my own much more modest purchase. I am going to ask around friends and family to see if anyone has some simple old piano tutorial books lying around in an old piano stool that I can cadge or to which I can at least guarantee a good home.