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Open Mics, Open Ears, Open Hearts

, , , , , | Working | April 9, 2021

I go to a long-running open mic night where one of the bar staff is intellectually challenged. His job is to collect glasses and keep the place tidy. He’s a lovely bloke, but people ridicule him a bit behind his back, which is a bit unfair, but there you go — that’s what people do.

Every week, he gets up to sing and utterly slaughters one of the standards; he really is not very good, can’t remember the words, and can’t even read them very well off the piece of paper he’s holding up to read them from. But no worries, it’s what he wants to do, and we don’t discriminate against anyone on grounds of talent or lack thereof.

Then, one day, he sits in front of the piano and starts playing random chords, just plonking his hands down wherever he wants to on the keyboard, and — get this — it actually sounds really good. It’s sort of bluesy and wistful and completely consonantally harmonic. He does this for a few minutes while beaming happily.

And he gets up and gets rapturous applause, high-fives, fist-bumps, the lot, as you’d expect.

His mum works with my wife, and I pick her up and take them both in to work in the morning. She’s going on about her useless son this, useless son that.

Me: “Actually, in the circles I move in, he’s highly respected.”

Mum: “How on earth?!”

Me: “Oh, yeah, he’s really good on the piano. Yeah, you know he’s friends with [Respected Rock Star who runs the club]?”

She went all silent, and now she looks upon him in a different light.

He happily admitted to me that he hasn’t a clue what he’s doing on that piano, and he’s just mucking about and having fun. It doesn’t matter to us; it sounds good enough that we have him back to play on it any time.


This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for April 2021!

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