In response to my previous post here, about Gale Lawson, my Mum sent me a photo of my Dad doing similar things in his similar workshop.
So, here he is – my wonderful Dad, Peter Eastop – back in 1998, healing a bassoon in his workshop. Soon after this his Parkinson’s got so bad that he couldn’t work any more and he had to shut down the workshop. Tragic.
Here is Gale Lawson, a wizard with horns (and also a halo, if you look carefully). The valves of my Phatterboy Eb Flugelhorn had been sticking and no amount of cleaning or drowning in valve oil seemed to free them up. Also, the main tuning slide and the first valve slide were too free-moving. The combination of valves that didn’t come back up again and tuning slides which kept falling out was driving me ABSOLUTELY NUTS so I took the thing to Gale to be healed.
Gale was very keen to show me his new machine for deep-frying instruments:
It’s not really a deep-fryer. It’s an ultra-sonic cleaning machine. It contains 90 gallons of a liquid with magical properties. You submerge anything from a trumpet to a whopping great tuba into it, making sure that the instrument is completely filled with the liquid, and then press the ON button for a minute or two. The machine hums, the magical molecules in the wizard’s liquid jiggle at an ultrasonic frequency and clouds of colourful dirt emerge …even from a relatively new instrument like my Phatterboy. Gale is very proud of his new machine, particularly of the fact that nobody else in the UK has one.
My Dad used to do what Gale does. He had a lovely workshop full of wonderful specialised tools and machines. When I was growing up I spent many happy hours watching my Dad working on all manner of wind instruments. He was considered a bassoon specialist but was equally at home with brass instruments. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t inherit any of my Dad’s patience, dexterity or methodical nature. Some people are destined to make or repair instruments, others to damage and destroy them – I fall into the latter category. Until his Parkinson’s Disease stopped him from working my Dad used to do all the repairs to my instruments, including a lot of customisation. He was a genius. He once made a complete set of detatchable levers for my Alexander so that I could play it the other way around – with the bell over to my left.
Gale Lawson is also a genius, and I very much like watching him work. His workshop looks and smells like my Dad’s used to, so I think when I am there I get somehow transported back to some very happy times.