by Harry Pope

Queens Gardens sofa with new resident

Queens Gardens sofa with new resident

Have you ever had a settee dumped on the pavement outside your flat? We have. It happened late one Sunday afternoon a couple of years or so ago, so I took a photo, it was such a large comfy one that would obviously go pretty quick. Then an hour later, we looked out, and there was a homeless man sleeping on it. He was really away sleeping soundly. Couldn’t hear him snoring, but it must have been the comfiest billet he had ever found. Within a couple of hours he had woken up, and wondered off in search of somewhere for the night. But the strange thing was, the next morning, the sofa had gone. Disappeared. If I hadn’t taken a photo, I would have even doubted it was even there in the first place. It might have been a passing person who thought ‘that looks like a really great sofa, I need one just like that, I’ll get a mate with a van and we’ll take it away before anyone else gets there.’

Queens Gardens sofa

Queens Gardens sofa

Don’t get me wrong, Eastbourne is a wonderful place to live. Queens Gardens is opposite the pier, and in the past has been a great place to live. It’s only a short road, connecting the seafront with a main road that was the original road out of town going east towards Hastings. This is a terrace of flats that when built in the late Victorian era was a sought-after quality residence. The view of the sea is uninterrupted, we can see the pier from our front window. Some time in the past the flats were converted to a quality hotel, but this deteriorated with anti-social behaviour after closure, so twenty years ago was purchased and converted back into living accommodation again.

Now bring the timeline to 2020. Late Friday afternoon in mid-August we had our sash windows open to let in air, and a car parked outside. Easy to hear the revving as it went back and forwards into the small space, we heard music, which we attributed to the car stereo. Three youngsters walked past, with more piano music. Didn’t think much about it really, but a few minutes later more piano music. Strange, we thought, so stopped watching The Chase, and looked out the window. An upright piano was outside our flat window. On the pavement. With the keyboard facing the road, so any passing pedestrian could attempt to play Rachmaninoff’s concerto in one minute. Or the flight of the bumble bee. Or anything, really. Every few minutes we could hear a discordant noise emanating from the pavement, my patience was becoming thinner, so we decided to do something about it. Pam and I went outside.

Not a bad looking piano

Not a bad looking piano

The keyboard was very handy for any budding musician, so I got one end, and tested the weight. Very heavy, it would have taken three men just to have taken it from the back of a van, and dumped on the pavement. No casters, no wheels, so I slowly lifted one end, so when task completed the keys were now away from the offending pavement. We thought no more about it, went indoors. Until two hours later.

We heard it being played again, no melody of course, just an extremely annoying thump thump. I looked out, and there were three men, two looking, one obviously thinking he had the talent of Yehudi Menuin. That was it, I was standing at the top of my steps, looking down on them. ‘Oi,’ I shouted, gaining attention, ‘are you going to take that away.’

Queens Gardens concert hall

Queens Gardens concert hall

‘No.’

‘Then leave the sodding thing alone, I can’t hear the telly with your bloody row.’

‘Oh, sorry mate,’ as they walked away.

A peaceful evening after that interlude, we went to bed, the next morning another surprise. The piano had gone.

I have a theory . For all their faults, our council are on the ball when it comes to keeping the pavements clear of rubbish, and I reckon that they send a van round the area early hours every day to see what has been dumped. Otherwise, it’s music lovers who have a sudden gem for free.