London Craft Week has been on for the last couple of days with a host of curious and beautifully made things. I made a beeline for the Steinway restoration demonstration at Oxo Tower on the Thames. They were fixing cracks in the soundboard of a 1889 piano when I was there. Carefully inserting a fine wedge of spruce into the crack then shaving it back in line with the sound board. They also had a new Steinway just sitting there, asking to be played – I couldn’t say no! Such a pleasure to play an instrument of that quality. It was quite lovely to play a Steinway in a shed. The juxtaposition of luxury, ultra-refined piano in an old wharf building was wonderful. I also forget how much I miss playing piano when I’m away.
Later in the day I stumbled across Tom Woods Cellos in the Opera Arcade near Trafalgar Square. Ben, the resident cellist, was practising at the time, so after a chat about cellos he treated me to a private concert. There is something very special about one person playing music for another person. It made me wish I could have my own cellist as an alarm clock – live Bach to start the day!
My adventures then took me to Savile Row where the delightful young Scottish cutter talked me through the process of making a bespoke suit at Kathryn Sargent. She’s the first woman tailor to break into Savile Row and if the half hour I spent there is anything to go by, is doing it extremely well. I learnt all kinds of things about suit making – horse hair fabric lining for structure; a gazillion hand stitches, sleeve width and jacket width are related… If I’d had a spare 8,000 pounds I would have ordered one!