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One of those days....
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Author:  Terry McGee [ Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:46 am ]
Post subject:  One of those days....

Heh heh, I've just had "one of those days". But I thought some of you might find the details amusing.....

(I pause to consider which of you might find this story amusing. Would I want to spend time with people like that? Hmmmm.)

I got a tip-off, several days back, of what to expect. A fellow rang me, saying he was bundling up 9 flutes up to send to me. And that he'd "pulled all the metal off them". OK...

Mid-morning this morning and there's a knock at the front door. The postal package lady was there, with a three-foot long tube of 6" diameter poly sewerage pipe capped and taped at both ends. I signed her little scanning unit. Perhaps that was a mistake? Perhaps we could just have fled interstate?

I brought the parcel inside and stripped the duct tape off one end, revealing 4 screws. I removed the four screws, permitting me to take off the cap. From the tube I withdrew 6 bundles.

Each bundle was bubble-wrapped. Each bundle had electrician's tape running full length, and two lots of electrician's tape wrapped around each end. Getting electrician's tape off bubble wrap is harder than you might imagine. Time passed....

Most bundles, unbundled, yielded a flute, each one fully assembled. But several yielded more than one flute. There were indeed 9 flutes all up. Of differing lengths and types.

But each flute had been taped up, in several layers of clear packaging tape. Firstly, all the joints had been separately taped up. Perhaps a crude attempt to overcome any leakage between sections? But then, as if to make really sure that no molecule of air might pass unimpeded from inside to out, each flute was then fully encased in heavy-duty clear packaging tape from tip to toe. Or sometimes, just to confuse the unbundler, from toe to tip. Gruumph.

Now, what became clear is that this bundling hadn't just happened in the last few days. This had been done some considerable time ago. So the tape wasn't fresh, it was aged. Very aged. And you know what old packaging tape is like. Firstly, the adhesive hardens, making it really hard to get off. Secondly, the substrate becomes fragile, so easily tears into thin strips, making removing it very frustrating.

By this time, Jesse had realised something was up. Perhaps it was the unmitigated sobbing, I don't know. Women can be very sensitive in situations like this. So she sat down, and we both started to unwrap the flutes from their bindings. More time passed. Sharp knives and dressmakers scissors helped find ways in where fingernails failed. Bit by bit flutes were unbound, and the bin filled with spent tape.

That's when we found "the metal". Remember "he'd pulled the metal off them"? Realising that the aged pads were leaking and not having the facilities to deal with that, he had removed the keys ("the metal") so that he could play the flutes "keyless". Rather than risk losing any of the bits, he had pressed all the keys and pins onto the sticky side of long strips of wide gaffer tape. Then to seal the deal, he stuck another layer of gaff over the top, imprisoning "the metal" in a sarcophagus of sticky. Excepting again, this was done years ago, so sticky had turned to stone. Much more time passed. Words were uttered, many quite unsuited to this family-friendly page....

Indeed, by now, we had spent some 4 hours excavating flutes. Interestingly, some had dealt with their ordeal better than others. Some showed no signs of stress whatsoever, others had lost their surface finish and looked quite distressed. And speaking of distressed.....

No, the counselling sessions, the relentless bashing of heads against the brick wall, and a few litres of vin très ordinaire seemed to have done the trick, and I may well yet live to see the dawn. (To be advised....)

So, what are these 9 flutes, you demand, uncaring for the human debris on show before you. Not without interest:

8 key English flute by J Wallis, very dark stained cocus, decorative turned rings, lip plate, finger hole discs, big crack through head, 1 broken key.
8 key German flute, no name, at least one broken key
8 key William Henry Potter flute in boxwood, 2 broken keys. Pewter plug "valves", so very hard to get working!
8 key German flute, no name, needs padding, 1 missing ring, ebony
4 key D'Almaine & Co in D, short foot. Needs padding, 2 missing rings, missing cap.
4 key Band Flute in F by Gisborne, needs padding
1 key flute in F in boxwood by T. Croger. No stopper. Key needs padding.
1 piece fife in C at 455 Hz? Dark brown wood
1 key piccolo in D, black wood or ebony

I'm quite taken by the responsiveness of the boxwood Croger flute in F, except the tuning is execrable. I played a tune on it to Jesse and oldest son Ciaron. They begged me to stop. It was with relief and hope I found the stopper was missing. But is that enough to explain the most bizarre tuning you could imagine? To be determined....

Once I'm out of rehab, I'll look forward to coming to grips with these flutes.

And please remember. Don't send flowers to the hospital. Send cork grease.....

Well, enough. I'm off to bed. It's been "one of those days...."

Author:  jemtheflute [ Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

:D :lol: :o :waah:
I can't imagine a more appropriate or deserving recipient! :P :party:

Author:  Steve Bliven [ Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

Given the history of Australia, I can almost understand why someone would send incarcerated flutes there. :)

Best wishes.


Author:  AaronFW [ Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

I learned from reading the book Return to Laughter (an Anthropological Novel regarding a West-African community) that things that are not funny in the concrete are funny in the abstract.

In the book, a young kid plays a joke on a blind man by yelling that there is a snake. The blind man, being unable to identify the location or existence of the snake stabs and swings his walking-stick to ward off the snake. The main character, a white woman, was not amused. However, the same scene happens in a skit at the end of the book, and it is humorous as the community laughs together about life.

That being said... your situation in the abstract sounds ridiculous and amusing, but I also understand that your pain/anguish was real.

One thing is unclear to me though, why were the flutes sent to you? Are they to be repaired, or are they yours now?

Author:  Terry McGee [ Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

Steve Bliven wrote:
Given the history of Australia, I can almost understand why someone would send incarcerated flutes there. :)

Heh heh, indeed.

It struck me too that it represents a little microcosm of life in 19th and 20th century Australia. The flutes are mostly from England, with clear exception of the two mass-produced German flutes, and the possible exception the fife (I'm not at all sure where that comes from) and possibly the piccolo. The inclusion of the band flutes broadens the range. A Survey of Flutes.

Author:  Terry McGee [ Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

AaronFW wrote:
One thing is unclear to me though, why were the flutes sent to you? Are they to be repaired, or are they yours now?

Ah, good question, Aaron. To which the answer is a definite "To Be Determined".

The gentleman who sent them explained that he is in his 75th year, and was going into care. He never really was a flute player, and had picked them up from deceased estates and op-shops out of interest. In the least case, he now needed to do something with them, and had determined from searching the web that I was the obvious answer to that immediate problem. He went on to say that, if something could be done with them that would be good, and if it yielded any money, that would be better.

I think we can all sympathise with his position. Indeed, it's a reminder to all of us to look to our collections and put together a dignified dispersal plan. I have one of my own to think about.

It does present some practical issues at my end - at age 70, I'm not particularly looking for a lot more work. Indeed, the year past has been a bit more full-on than I expected, due in part to a fairly busy festival season and a quite dramatic upturn in carillon interest (my other main musical instrument activity). Against that, though, I'm certainly not going to turn my back on the instruments. I've pulled all the tape off them, pulled them all apart, worked out which keys belong to which flute and packaged them separately. A Triage operation if you like. We now know what we have and what attention they need.

I figured that as soon as time permits, I'll pull out one needing relatively little work, tidy it up and offer it for sale, first via my website directly to our flute community, and if no interest, then by Ebay.

And of course, if I discover anything interesting along the way, write it up for inclusion on my web site.

Heh heh, even as I write, I'm sorely tempted to whip down to the workshop and bung a stopper into the Croger F flute, just to find out if the execrable tuning really can be down to the lack of a stopper. But no, I will be strong. Very strong!

Fairly strong....

Author:  Casey Burns [ Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

Not enough tape. And to be certain they should have used epoxy to make sure it would stick.

Author:  Connor Toole [ Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

I think this should be stickied with a note of how not to ship a flute!

Author:  busterbill [ Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

Thanks for sharing.

Author:  Mars [ Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

You have made my day, Terry! Thanks for sharing )))

Author:  psychodonald [ Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

Great story Terry, thanks for sharing it. :lol: I'm on the elderly side of things, and I do have to admit that I get a little excited when I start packaging up a flute and get to use scissors, tape and bubble wrap--perhaps it's a yet to be diagnosed, age related disorder?

Author:  sfmans [ Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

A while back I sold a shawm online and the purchaser asked me to wrap the instrument in cling film before applying any other packaging (me in UK, purchaser in NZ). I did as I was asked and upon receipt the purchaser was very happy.

I’ve always wondered why the cling film? And in a bizarre sort of way, this thread seems the ideal place to ask ...

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

I’ve always wondered why the cling film?

I believe the thought is that it prevents the wood from drying out in transit (especially during long haul air transport).

Author:  Terry McGee [ Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

Mr.Gumby wrote:
I’ve always wondered why the cling film?

I believe the thought is that it prevents the wood from drying out in transit (especially during long haul air transport).

I think that's probably correct. In the early days, aircraft holds were not pressurised, and I think there's still somewhat of a hangover from those days about the safety of consigning stuff to the holds. These days pets fly in the hold, and breath the same pressurised and heated air as the crew and passengers. But that air is refreshed from outside, and it's pretty dry up there. And then has to be heated, reducing the relative humidity further.

Given a flight is unlikely to much exceed 1 day, and given the density of our flute woods, and the fact that they probably are carrying a bit of moisture from last night's session, I wouldn't expect them to dry out dangerously in flight. Unless your day job is in an airline crew and you carry your flute to session at both ends!

I do suggest to people who are sending me a flute that has a humidity-related fault (eg a crack in a metal-lined section) to cling-wrap the flute to help preserve the presenting situation so I get to see it.

But only cling wrap! Not sticky! Please, no more sticky!

Author:  an seanduine [ Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: One of those days....

Thank your stars they didn't use AralditeC ! :o


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