It was late at night, on another night in another big city. On a weeknight like this, all the respectable working people were in their beds. Only insomniacs, and perhaps ghosts, walk at this hour.
It was so quiet here! About as quiet as it gets in the heart of the city. Despite all the cars flowing down this busy road, I felt all alone in the world.
There was action around for those who wanted it. In the pubs a few blocks away, everything was bright and gay. I could have joined in the fraternity there.
However I kept walking in the opposite direction, enjoying a bit of quiet.
Crossing the busy street, I came to a corner, where the duilding had stairs leading up to a type of verandah or patio, which looked like a stage. Inside, the impressive foyer led to a wide staircase. It was a grand entrance to a grand old edifice, which must have been really something back in the day.
Nowadays, it was a place where homeless people often dropped their swags and slept.
Tonight, someone had put an old piano on this impromptu stage. I wonder who it was organised that? I guess I should tell them that all the world is one. Sitting there was Jack, a man who I knew around the traps.
I knew that he was not the full quid, a few snags short of a barbie, or had kangaroos loose in the top paddock – there are so many expressions for it. Whenever he wasn’t abusive, however, I didn’t disparage him for this.
My auntie had Down’s Syndrome after all, the whole family could take off her rather cracked voice. Her two big interests in life were knitting, which she was pretty ordinary at, and the piano, her playing was quite extraordinary.
Jack was similarly talented in certain ways: he played guitar, had once done a portrait of a veiled woman, she looked like a nun. On a bad day, all I would hear from him was “smelly arse” and the F word.
Tonight he was in a good mood, offering me a cigarette. I climbed the stairs and had a look around. Noticing the piano, I commented about how it made the place look like a stage.
He asked me if I could play? So I sat down and had a go, the only thing I could remember was Bach’s Minuet in G. All those years of piano lessons, all that practicing my mother nagged me about, just for this.
Jack told me it was good, but it was so much better when he took over. He played one of Beethoven’s symphonies, the notes flowing like water.
This was much appreciated by his audience of one, the music flowing over me like a mighty river. I sat on the stairs, my two hands to only ones clapping at his playing.
He then switched to Mozart. I may have been the only one sitting there, but I was not the only audience that he had. I noticed people sitting at the lights in their cars, by their reactions it was obvious they also appreciated his playing, as the music flowed over them.
You could hear the same music at the Opera House, or down at Symphony in The Domain. That would be one thing. It was quite another to hear such talent from such an unlikely person, in such an unlikely place. It was like splashing around in some dirty river, then coming up with pure gold.
I feel privileged that I was there to witness it on that night, to hear that music.