Peter Tryon The Author
The Castles Of Suffolk
The Castles of Suffolk takes us back to medieval times when the county had wealth, good employment prospects, high quality agricultural land, a sizeable population - and in he mind of the ruling class a need to control any trouble! It had been subject to invasion from Vikings and even the Norman rulers fell out amongst themselves, so defence and of course status were much on the minds of the ruling Barons.
Author Peter Tryon has delved deep into historic records, reviewed many existing published works and visited all the sites in the county reputed to be castles. From the glories of Framlingham and Orford through to the mysteries of the lost castle sites at Ipswich and Southwold, he has pulled together all the evidence in a book which will satisfy both readers at home and the explorers who want to visit the sites themselves.
You Can Purchase It From Poppyland Publishing
You Can Purchase It From Amazon
The Steinway That Wouldn't Budge
Peter Tryon's Confessions of a Piano Tuner is a charming, autobiographical tale of life spent travelling around rural East Anglia tuning pianos. But this is also a personal account from boyhood of how music and more specifically the mechanics of that wonderful instrument, fired early imagination and gave rise to a lifelong fascination and involvement with the piano. As much a social commentary on people, the anecdotes about different characters are filled with humour and the text is light and easy to read. The unspoiled beauty and charm of East Anglia provides a perfect backdrop to Peter Tryon's account, all combining together to make this a book that you won't want to put down.
You Can Purchase It From Amazon
The Steinway that wouldn't budge is a collection of humorous stories collected after visiting thousands of different places and meeting thousands of different people. Available via Amazon, all good bookshops or even the local library. Below are just a few stories from the book.
Piano Exploits 1 "Where Are You"
(The phone rings.)
ME: Hello, Peter Tryon Pianos
CUSTOMER: Do you tune pianos?
Me: I do.
CUSTOMER: Brilliant! What’s the cost?
ME: That depends. Where are you, any repairs needed and how long it was since it had been tuned?
CUSTOMER: Well, we live a long way from anywhere. The piano’s been here since before 1960, so at least that long. I don’t think anyone has spoken to a piano tuner before.
ME: Gosh, that’s a really long time! Do all the keys go up and down, and does each key make a sound?
CUSTOMER: Yes, we checked. It's out of tune of course but everything sort of works, but my mother only plays the notes in the middle.
ME: Where exactly are you?
CUSTOMER: Norfolk. We’re 25 miles south of Norwich on a track that goes through a wood. Actually it's more of a forest, because it’s called Thetford Forest. You have to go through the entire thing to get to us.
(I looked up their location on an ordnance survey map, calculated the driving fee, and gave them a price for a standard package. They did indeed live in a forest.)
ME: That’d be £X, which covers a basic tuning and the odd adjustments.
CUSTOMER: That’s great! Do you do the moving
ME: Yes, I have a mover. Where do you want the piano moving to?
CUSTOMER: I don’t know. We’ll need it moving twice.
ME: Why do you want the piano moved twice?
CUSTOMER: Well you have to, don’t you.
ME: I’m so sorry, but I’m not following you at all. Let’s start over. Where is it getting moved TO?
CUSTOMER: How would we know that?
ME: Well, you asked.
CUSTOMER: Where's your workshop?
ME: Drinkstone, Suffolk.
CUSTOMER: Well it'll need to go there then. And then back to mine.
(The penny drops.)
CUSTOMER: Hello? Are you still there?
ME: Yes, still here. Let me explain something...
Piano tuners always tune the piano where the piano is located. The piano does not have to be brought to me. Anyway, moving them would put them out of tune.
Customer: So, how much less is the tuning now you don’t have to move it?
ME: I quoted you for just a tuning. No moving.
CUSTOMER: Will you need putting up for the night?
ME: No – I’ll come, tune the piano and leave. OK?
CUSTOMER: You sound a rum ‘un! (Norfolk saying: “A bit of a lad”). Cheerio!
The people were absolutely delightful.
Copyright: Peter Tryon 21st March, 1997
Piano Exploits 2 - Mustard
"He's done it again," came the exasperated tone down the phone, and a visit was hastily convened.
I had called at the house a few weeks earlier and had discovered an upright Challen piano with half the right leg chewed off. Next to the piano stood a big, soft, black Labrador with a tail that knocked off everything within a two metre radius. The dog was called Rigsby and had been named after the star of a comedy programme.
"Why Rigsby?" I had asked.
"He was rather slow at his toilet training when he was a puppy. So we decided he had a Rising Damp problem." I chuckled at their explanation.
It looked quite comical really, as though the dog had taken just one bite out of the wood, but obviously it had chewed it some time. As the state of the leg was now so bad, I took the other leg and made a replica so that the match was pretty true. Plans were then made to install a baby gate from the kitchen to the lounge to keep the dog out at night.
I revisited and was met by a tornado as the hound freed itself from its owner’s grasp and came bounding over to greet me. Sure enough, there was now nothing left of the leg I was about to replace.
"Do you put up the gate at night?" I asked.
"Oh yes, but he did this one evening when we were watching television."
The dog waved its tail furiously as though applauding himself, knocking a flower pot from a display on a nearby table.
“We’ll ask the vet what he suggests,” said the lady, a retired tall woman who had moved to Suffolk from London and who kept her house immaculately. The dog was to be their exercise and was their excuse for taking walks in the beautiful countryside. It also meant that they got to know other people in the village quite quickly.
I made sure I kept a pattern of the leg I had replaced.
She rang me that evening. "A friend says we should put mustard powder on the leg. Will that harm the wood?"
I didn't think it would and settled down for the evening.
Next day, there was another phone call. She just said her name.
"How?" I enquired.
"He jumped over the fence in the night. The dog is standing here with a yellow ring around its mouth, not the slightest bit bothered."
I arranged another appointment and said I would speak to a couple of friends in the trade.
My questioning just bought amused giggles and really unhelpful suggestions like putting land mines under the carpet near the leg or mouse traps!
I arrived the next week with leg number two.
The dog didn't bound up to me in its usual manner.
"Where's Rigsby?" I asked.
From behind the lady a very forlorn Labrador stared at me.
"He had too much energy. The vet suggested we have him castrated."
It seemed a severe punishment, but I could understand the woman’s frustration.
I refitted the leg after which the woman wanted an easy chair pushed right up against the piano.
I didn't hear anything from the people for ages after that. The operation had obviously worked. I rang eventually to arrange a tuning visit.
"How's the leg?" I asked.
"The legs fine," she said. "The trouble is he's started eating the chair we put in front!"Copyright: Peter Tryon 1st January, 2001
Piano Exploits 3 - THE COFFIN
Suffolk is full of some wonderful houses and often the finest dwelling in a village belonged to the vicar. Most were built in Victorian times and allowed for the fact that most clergy came from rich families. The eldest son inherited the estate whilst the second son often became a village parson or perhaps joined the army or navy. Houses had to have room for domestic staff as well as the parson’s family, and so were big, rambling places.
Sadly, modern economics have dictated that most of these houses are too big and so have been replaced by the modern vicarage with easy to heat rooms and a place for meetings and somewhere for the vicar to prepare his or her weekly sermon.
A few of the old vicarages have however survived by being sold to the general public. Most are private houses, some have become offices or old people's homes and have been altered beyond recognition, Some are totally unchanged. It was to one of the latter houses that I was called to tune. I had been there a number of times before.
The booking was made about a month in advance. The people were always extremely welcoming and I enjoyed my visits. We would often discuss anything from world affairs to how the family was getting on.
The village was a long way out and was the only house I tuned for in the village then, although I had cared for more pianos in other houses before the respective players had left for university or moved on. I didn’t mind going however and always charged them a normal fee rather than add on anything extra for mileage. They had stayed loyal and I appreciated that loyalty.
My visit was planned for early evening after spending all day teaching. I was able to get away at a reasonable time despite a meeting which turned out to be mercifully short. It was a grey day I remember and the clouds threatened rain. It was getting dark when I drove down the rather overgrown driveway to the front door.
As usual I was met by a menagerie of cats that would congregate at the front door and try and get in the house.
The lady of the house met me and looked more serious than her normal jolly self.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," she said. "I had entirely forgotten you were coming. This is terribly awkward. Mother's in the front room."
It was an odd conversation. The piano was in the front room, so why was this difficult? Perhaps they were having tea.
"I’m not making myself clear am I?" she stuttered, moving from one foot to the other.
"Look, I don’t mind if you don’t!"
She led me in through the hall into the front room.
Yes, mother was in there alright. She was lying in a coffin with a candle burning at one end and a cross on the table. The lid had been removed and was propped up against one of the walls. The piano was alongside. Anyone playing the piano would have their back directly touching the casket.
“The funeral’s tomorrow morning and we thought it would be nice if she spent the night here. The undertaker brought her about half an hour ago,” the lady continued in whispering tones.
I was somewhat taken aback. She explained that the rest of the family would be coming round later that evening to pay their final respects.
“You can stay to tune if you like. Mother loved music and wouldn’t mind I’m sure,” she uttered.
Mother wouldn't have a say either way I thought! Now, what would you, the reader, do? At this point I had a vision of tuning the piano and a bony finger nudging me from behind to say that such and such note wasn't quite right!
I declined. I really couldn’t intrude on the family's grief and I offered my condolences.
"Let me pay you for your visit," she offered.
I said no as the last thing you think about at a time like this is having your piano tuned and you could understand her predicament. Events had made her forget normal day-to-day matters.
I went back a few weeks later and the people were as hospitable as ever. The piano tuning was successful and we were even able to laugh about the ridiculousness of the former situation.
There were, however, in the room, two headstones!
"The mason brought them over last week and we're seeing which one we like. What do you think?" she asked. "Do you prefer the grey or the black?"
"They’re both very nice," I whispered. At a loss to know what to say.
“Mother always did like the piano," said the lady as she waved me goodbye with her usual broad smile.
Copyright - Peter Tryon 1st March, 2010
I was really looking forward to reading this after a particularly excitable visit from my own piano tuner that, coupled with a more than passing expectation of the sort of stories you might recount about time spent in East Anglia, my location also. I am well aware of the amount of material you might have to draw on when it comes to interesting characters and local eccentrics! I also have fond memories of time spent in Yorkshire as that is where I went to University so your book struck a real chord (sorry!).
My own piano which is around 100 years old and which was a 21st birthday present to my mother in 1947, had not been tuned for many years prior to its arrival here and I was unsure whether it would be redeemable. Happily it was but whilst I waited for the piano tuner, I made enquiries to see if I could find an old upright going begging just in case, as my daughter needed a keyboard to help her with GCSE music preparation. I was put in touch with a village hall in Suffolk and asked to contact the caretaker known only as “Twig”. It isn’t difficult to find stories and characters seemingly that surround this musical instrument.
I thought it was a thoroughly good read and wish you all the best with it; I shall recommend it to my own piano tuner when I next see him.
Back Cover Blurb
Peter Tryon’s Confessions of a Piano Tuner is a charming, autobiographical tale of life spent travelling around rural East Anglia tuning pianos. But this is also a personal account from boyhood of how music and more specifically the mechanics of that wonderful instrument, fired early imagination and gave rise to a lifelong fascination and involvement with the piano.
As much a social commentary on people, the anecdotes about different characters are filled with humour and the text is light and easy to read. The unspoiled beauty and charm of East Anglia provides a perfect backdrop to Peter Tryon’s account, all combining together to make this a book that you won’t want to put down.
Spend a happy hour or two enjoying a musical jaunt through the fields and villages of East Anglia as Confessions of a Piano Tuner takes you on a lyrical ride though the life and times of the author’s work as a piano tuner. This is a charming and funny tale filled with rural characters and “truth is stranger than fiction” stories which will entertain and delight.
Clear from the pages is the author’s lifelong love of music but this is not a heavy tale; instead a light- hearted look at how pianos play a part in the lives of some people and the different manifestations that may take. There is reference as well to his work as a choirmaster and that endless source of humour – weddings and funerals. Enjoy this read and hope that there will be more tales to follow from Peter Tryon.
Peter Tryon FMCM., FASC., ARCM., ALCM., AVCM., Cert Ed.
40+ years experience. Regular visits across the county plus parts of Norfolk, Essex, Warwickshire and Scotland (Dumfries area). Tuner for the National Trust, Cambridge University, Forestry Commission outdoor concerts, Suffolk County Council schools, many private schools, piano teachers, etc.
Fully enhanced CRB check and fully insured with £5,000,000 public liability.