Video: The day we pushed a piano for two miles through streets of Leeds

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IT’S hardly the last word in portable music players, but a Leeds suburb woke today to the sight and sounds of an upright piano being pushed through the streets.

Local resident Graham Tempest was behind the strange performance - which recreated a similar journey he made as a boy.

Graham Tempest and his sister Margaret Audsley push an upright piano through the streets of Gipton, as they did in the 19050s. Picture by Tony Johnson

Graham Tempest and his sister Margaret Audsley push an upright piano through the streets of Gipton, as they did in the 19050s. Picture by Tony Johnson

That time, he was with his father, three brothers and sister as he pushed a piano two miles to his aunt’s house to collect it as a surprise for his mother who was in hospital.

Graham said the first thing his dad did after getting the piano back home was go straight out to Kitchen’s Music Shop in Leeds, to buy sheet music for Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Limelight’

Graham said: “The first thing my mum did when she walked in the door from the hospital was to sit down and play that tune.

“Me and my brothers and sister were teenagers and we didn’t even know she could play.”

Graham Tempest and his sister Margaret Audsley push an upright piano through the streets of Gipton, as they did in the 19050s. Picture by Tony Johnson

Graham Tempest and his sister Margaret Audsley push an upright piano through the streets of Gipton, as they did in the 19050s. Picture by Tony Johnson

Graham’s mum died nine months after the family brought her the piano, and while his dad tried to learn to play, he failed to master it and the instrument ended up broken up in the garden.

Graham said: “My Dad’s golden rule was that if you were going to a party you had to do a ‘party piece’ in front of everyone.

“So we all learned to play an instrument or sing.”

Now the family’s tale is set to be immortalised in a new production called ‘Gipton the Musical’, penned by former Chumbawamba band member Boff Whalley alongside local residents from the suburb of east Leeds.

The of 'Gipton the Musical'

The of 'Gipton the Musical'

The story tells the tale of George - dubbed the world champion at sitting down and drinking tea - who is faced with a tough choice after his wife and family move on, leaving him alone in this corner of the city.

He is forced to face the ghost of Gipton past as he reflects on memories of street bonfires, football in the roads and nights at the local dance halls.

Local people in the area have been offered the chance since April to sing, dance, make costumes, build sets, design the lighting and even write the script.

The production has been commissioned by Space2, a local arts charity that runs health and wellbeing projects in Leeds.

The musical is at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds on July 18.

PIC: James Hardisty

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