Our esteemed but eccentric Mayor of London, Boris Johnston, recently had the bright idea of placing pianos around London to cheer up all of us credit-crunched citizens.
I first encountered one outside the Gherkin last week.
It's a bit of a shame about where they've placed it, as no-one seems to want to play it … until this chap popped along:
So far, so good.
Only thing is, he belted out a few tunes but no-one wanted to sing with him:
Must be being in the City as we're all known to be miserable, sour-faced scrooges in this part of the world …
… as confirmed by Kieron Quirke in the Evening Standard:
Around one o'clock, I rocked up at the piano placed slap bang in the middle of St Mary-le-Bow churchyard. My potential choir were bank workers grabbing lunch and looking like they had things on their minds.
No one seemed to have been drinking – that would have helped. Trepidatiously, I opened the piano and dived into Rocket Man. I started too high. I also forgot the verse – plus my singing voice isn't very nice. But by the second chorus I was in my stride. Casting an inclusive glaze around the square I issued my rallying cry: "Sing along now!" The silence was so debilitating I forgot the next chord.
I had to make it clear that this was a group activity. So I fell to asking passers-by if they wanted to sing – offering the books chained to the piano. Sasha from the Anglo Irish bank was my first volunteer – she picked Hey Jude.
This would get the onlookers singing. No one resists joining in Hey Jude. They resisted, though Sasha gave a fine performance. We even sang the na-na-na-na bit seven or eight times, so it wasn't that they didn't know the words.
They resisted Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head and Dancing Queen too. Nicola and Sayeda were among the few to join in. The problem wasn't us, it was them. In a minor huff, I moved to the piano by the Millennium Bridge. There, a Californian called Krista Johnson agreed to sing Bridge Over Troubled Water (the songbooks are themed). We belted through – switching octaves when it became clear neither of us was Art Garfunkel. It was ragged, but it was loud, and a crowd gathered. I knew what to play now.
I don't know how many people were singing Hey Jude behind me but from the noise I would guess 3,000. Joy filled the air. I had done it. I had taken on the London masses and broken down their apathy. "Awesome! Fantaschtick!" the choir cried, and stamped their boatshoes. Still, I reckon there must have been some Londoners there somewhere.