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-   -   Piano Ceremony (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/627831-piano-ceremony.html)

ORAC 8th Dec 2019 05:16

Piano Ceremony
 
So it’s now a ceremony? No doubt involving the Holy Toilet Seat of Antioch.......

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/family-piano-given-to-raf-base-burnt-in-military-ceremony-by-mistake-drl508t3c

Family piano given to RAF base burnt in military ceremony by mistake


A mahogany piano given by a couple to a secretive military base was wrecked in a ceremonial fire “by mistake”.

Retired diplomat Saleh Rebdi, a father of six, and his wife Suzanne “thought it would be nice for the officers” to have a piano in the mess at Boscombe Down, an aircraft test site with the UK’s longest military runway. They handed over their beloved piano as they prepared to downsize from their £3.5m listed mansion at Winterbourne Dauntsey, near Salisbury, Wiltshire. They later learnt it had been destroyed at a Battle of Britain night supervised by firefighters. Now the station commander has apologised “for this mistake”.

Yesterday Rebdi, in his mid-seventies, said they believed the piano “was going to a good home”. His wife had refused to give it to a local family for children to play so it could go to the base, and was “very upset”.

“I even helped [local airmen] load it onto their van and tied it down to make sure it was secure. We thought it would be nice for the officers,” Rebdi said.

The RAF said: “Pianos at the end of their life are sometimes ceremonially burnt on special occasions by RAF personnel. Regrettably on this occasion a mistake was made and a viable piano was used. The station commander at MoD Boscombe Down has written to Mrs Rebdi apologising.”


The B Word 8th Dec 2019 07:08

Dear Mr & Mrs Rebdi

Sorry, but it looked like a burner.

Yours Aye

Harry Staish

:E

treadigraph 8th Dec 2019 08:04

Did it go out on a high note or a low note?

There were obviously strings attached to the gift...

Wensleydale 8th Dec 2019 08:10

Back in the 80s, the theatre at RAF Lossiemouth was granted £5K from the PSI fund to upgrade the piano that was used for musical productions there...the proviso was that the old piano (which had been valued at £1,500) was given to the Officers' Mess. Needless to say, the inevitable happened and it was burned shortly after at a Buccaneer DiN. Two weeks later, a phone call was made by a member of the Buccaneer Sqn that he would like the secretary of the theatre club to open up the theatre for him as he had a four tonner to take the piano from the theatre to the Mess. He was Mess sec, and needed the piano for the Burns Night to be held that evening in the mess. He was somewhat put out when he was told that he could not have the piano...his wing commander had told him to get the piano from the theatre as the lack of a piano would ruin the evening's entertainment. Much bluster from the said Buccaneer pilot was forthcoming, but he still didn't get the piano. He was told to tell his wing commander (who was PMC) that if his squadron insisted upon burning £1500 pianos then they couldn't have the £5,000 one - especially if it meant throwing it into the back of a four tonner. Fortunately, the Stn Cdr's wife was a member of the theatre club and top cover held out!

wub 8th Dec 2019 08:21

’He was somewhat put out ‘

unlike the piano

ShyTorque 8th Dec 2019 08:41

At an Officers' Mess meeting, sometime in Germany, we were informed that a local lady had offered to donate an old unwanted piano if we wanted it and by a vote it it was gratefully accepted. An upright piano appeared in due course; it was in remarkably good condition...for a while.

I was SDO during a very rowdy visit from a visiting Belgian F-16 squadron (and I was therefore sober and living in the Mess overnight). The shenanigans in the bar began, the piano being the centre piece of the entertainment. One visiting pilot, well beyond sober, decided that the piano needed "decorating" and ran outside, pulled up an entire hydrangea bush, complete with roots and a few pounds of soil and before we could stop him, plonked it on top of the piano. Unfortunately the top was open and much of it disappeared inside. Not many of the notes worked after that so his colleagues decided to wash it out with beer!

A few months later, a piano tuner turned up to service the piano and announced that he could not do his job because the piano was beyond tuning and half of it was missing. It was then that we discovered that the old piano had never turned up. The one that had been abused over the period was actually a brand new one, rented from the NAAFI!

LOMCEVAK 8th Dec 2019 09:25

It would be interesting to see the content of the letter that the Station Commander sent to Mr and Mrs Rebdi such that we could make up our own minds as to whether or not it really did constitute an 'apology' and how this 'mistake' came to be made. Did the 'local airmen' (who I suspect were officers as the piano was going to the Officers' Mess) discuss nothing about the intended use of the piano? Or were they disingenuous in hiding its planned fate from the Rebdis who believed that it was going to be played as a musical instrument on base? Have those responsible been suitably interviewed and debriefed by the Station Commander? Was the Station Commander present when this occurred? Has the Station Commander been interviewed by his superiors about this behaviour on his station?

Good community relations between military bases and the local communities is essential and incidents such as this are extremely detrimental to such relationships and portray the military in general, and the RAF in particular, in a very bad light. The fact that an article about this incident has appeared in the Sunday Times seems to support my opinion. Finally, I would suggest that the Officers' Mess ought to make a donation to a charity of Mr and Mrs Rebdi's choice as a way of offering a genuine apology.

Fareastdriver 8th Dec 2019 09:56

Back in the time when RAF stations would have B of B Open Days. Pianos used to be a favourite display.

The piano, underslung under a helicopter, being 'played' by a winchman dangling on a winch would fly past the assembled crowds with a strident piano concerto coming through the loudspeakers. The music would then reach its climax.

Whoops!

Chris Kebab 8th Dec 2019 10:38


Originally Posted by LOMCEVAK (Post 10634792)
It would be interesting to see the content of the letter that the Station Commander sent to Mr and Mrs Rebdi such that we could make up our own minds as to whether or not it really did constitute an 'apology' and how this 'mistake' came to be made. Did the 'local airmen' (who I suspect were officers as the piano was going to the Officers' Mess) discuss nothing about the intended use of the piano? Or were they disingenuous in hiding its planned fate from the Rebdis who believed that it was going to be played as a musical instrument on base? Have those responsible been suitably interviewed and debriefed by the Station Commander? Was the Station Commander present when this occurred? Has the Station Commander been interviewed by his superiors about this behaviour on his station?

Good community relations between military bases and the local communities is essential and incidents such as this are extremely detrimental to such relationships and portray the military in general, and the RAF in particular, in a very bad light. The fact that an article about this incident has appeared in the Sunday Times seems to support my opinion. Finally, I would suggest that the Officers' Mess ought to make a donation to a charity of Mr and Mrs Rebdi's choice as a way of offering a genuine apology.

These TPs - what are they like!

ShyTorque 8th Dec 2019 10:49


Originally Posted by LOMCEVAK (Post 10634792)
Finally, I would suggest that the Officers' Mess ought to make a donation to a charity of Mr and Mrs Rebdi's choice as a way of offering a genuine apology.

Good idea....I don't think anyone ever apologised to the NAAFI...

LOMCEVAK 8th Dec 2019 11:10


Originally Posted by Chris Kebab (Post 10634836)
These TPs - what are they like!

CK,
I tried to send you a PM but for some reason that option is not available for you. If it was, I would explain my rhetoric!

WB627 8th Dec 2019 11:42

The Navy Way
 
It would appear the The Navy had a different approach to piano disposal ……….


LOMCEVAK 8th Dec 2019 12:30

Interestingly, the last launch from the waist catapult of the Ark Royal was Honington’s Officers’ Mess piano! Some keys etc were recovered and subsequently mounted on a plaque and hung on the wall in an ante-room.

langleybaston 8th Dec 2019 16:14

Have Insurance actuaries worked out the Life Expectancy of a JoAnna in a Mess?
Death comes in many forms:
water [alcoholic]
Fire
Assault
Dropping from a great height
Launching

What is it about pianos that marks them for untimely death?

ShyTorque 8th Dec 2019 16:31

Langley, you could add "Thunder flashed" to the list. One hooligan Rock-ape decided to do this to the mess piano at Gutersloh after it had been slid own the steps into the Keller Bar. I saw it coming, realised what was about to happen and curled up in a ball behind a stone pillar with my eyes and ears covered. In such a confined space the bang was felt as much as heard. Others obviously thought it was just a small firecracker and suffered the consequences for their mistake!

RAFEngO74to09 8th Dec 2019 21:22


Originally Posted by ORAC (Post 10634697)
So it’s now a ceremony?

The RAF said: “Pianos at the end of their life are sometimes ceremonially burnt on special occasions by RAF personnel.”

More like "de rigeur" at many Friday Happy Hours at Leuchars in the early 80s - sometimes with the added "piece de resistance" of uprooting all the small blue and white signs that designated the wheels' parking slots and adding them to the burning pile [only had to fill out an RAF form to get them remade in GEF back then - none of the Budget Holder or Works Services bolleux that followed from the 90s].

However, no piano burning ever matched the episode of all the folding chairs being burnt at the welcome event for the NATO Tactical Air Meet 1978 at Wildenrath - held near the former Canberra B(I)8 QRA sheds - when the beer ran out !

BEagle 8th Dec 2019 21:39

Tales of the 'wrong' piano being burned are pretty common!

It certainly happened at Valley when some Lightning mates on MPC were responsible for such villainy.

At RAF Brawdy, the mess piano had a notice affixed which read something like 'If you feel that your squadron tradition requires that this piano should be burned, then please feel free to do so once you have agreed to replace it at its current value of £(insert figure) hundred pounds'. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it survived!

'Mongo', the ex-RAFG Wg Wpns Nav Rad on my Vulcan crew, decided that we would have a piano burning session at RAF Scampton one Friday Happy Hour. Several 'burners' were duly assembled in front of the OM and with the aid of ripped up BINA red books and the night end of day/night flares, were soon blazing merrily. Some idiot decided that he would drive his car through one pyre and received the day end of a flare through the window - turning the interior of his car (a tatty old 1100) and him bright orange. 'Mongo' hadn't info'd the fire people, so a huge fire wagon soon turned up and drenched everything and everyone. Game over and smouldering wreckage soon removed.

But the last 'burning' I witnessed was rather pathetic. Not only was there no spontaneity, but the burning team had to prepare a suitable area and summon the fire people before the event began. It all seemed rather pointless and somewhat embarrassing...

WB627 - Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were about as amusing as diarrhoea. I once saw Peter Cook totally demolished on some TV show by Bernard Manning, with his oafish quick wit. Brilliant!

Fixed Cross 9th Dec 2019 07:26

Back in the wondrous days when the Hunter ruled the skies from Chivenor hardly any Friday night TGIF passed without the ritual slaying of a piano. Before burning, the victim had to be dismantled and the components passed out of the bar through the smallest window. Destruction was usually achieved by heavy attack with empty metal beer barrels. Just outside the window was the Mess well tendered flower bed. After a while there were more burnt patches than flowers! The supply of pianos was, however, never a problem. Nearby Barnstaple held an open auction on a regular basis and the Mess maintained an established bid of £5 for any piano which was offered for sale.

lsh 9th Dec 2019 07:42

Noted.

lsh
:E

Islandlad 9th Dec 2019 07:47


Originally Posted by BEagle (Post 10635155)
But the last 'burning' I witnessed was rather pathetic. Not only was there no spontaneity, but the burning team had to prepare a suitable area and summon the fire people before the event began. It all seemed rather pointless and somewhat embarrassing...

WB627 - Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were about as amusing as diarrhoea. I once saw Peter Cook totally demolished on some TV show by Bernard Manning, with his oafish quick wit. Brilliant!

That just about says it all, on so many levels.

lsh 9th Dec 2019 08:06

https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune....bfdaf2986e.jpg

lsh 9th Dec 2019 08:07

https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune....32c982f429.jpg

lsh 9th Dec 2019 08:08

https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune....dd778ddfcf.jpg

Fixed Cross 9th Dec 2019 08:26

Ish,

Memory is fading but one of those piccies seems to have been taken in the Kellar bar at Gutersloh.

ShyTorque 9th Dec 2019 08:56

The second one is in the Keller bar and it might even be the same piano! As far as those reprobates are concerned, I deny any association :oh:

Repos 9th Dec 2019 09:08


Originally Posted by langleybaston (Post 10634990)
Have Insurance actuaries worked out the Life Expectancy of a JoAnna in a Mess?
Death comes in many forms:
water [alcoholic]
Fire
Assault
Dropping from a great height
Launching

What is it about pianos that marks them for untimely death?

They don't live forever apparently so look upon it as euthanasia

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19706812

MPN11 9th Dec 2019 09:21

RAF Watton/Eastern Radar, early-mid 70s ... flaming pianos became quite common at major events. They were, however, specifically purchased from Noel Abel's Auctions, usually for about £5.

After a while, the tarmac driveway loop outside the Mess was a bit battered, and the surface studded with small blobs of molten lead.

Top West 50 9th Dec 2019 09:39

See yorkshiremushroom dot com for some happy memories

Innominate 9th Dec 2019 18:45

Some years ago I was asked about piano burning by an American journalist. He had heard that the tradition had its basis in an edict issued in the 1920s or 30s that RAF officers should take piano lessons to improve their social skills, which had inspired such hatred that they eventually took their revenge on such instruments; was there any evidence for this? I could find none, and recalled that the early series of "It's a Knockout" had included races between two teams who each had to pass a piano through a hoop of (say) 2 ft diameter - clearly the quickest method involved sledgehammers... Might that have been an influence?

Auxtank 9th Dec 2019 18:57

I for one am absolutely outraged at this Burning Of Pianos - in some sort of RAF Ceremony dating back to God knows when.

But I also acknowledge that there are certain things in life that should not be explained or attempted to be explained. Like God...

This is one of them...

Good luck chaps....and thank you for your service.

Private jet 9th Dec 2019 19:27

Eh? Burning pianos? Whatever next, books??
Behaviour like that will only confirm in normal peoples minds that the military are indeed a bunch of strange, moronic, self-entitled savages, that can only function in an artificial world of their own making.

Auxtank 9th Dec 2019 19:30


Originally Posted by Private jet (Post 10635808)
Eh? Burning pianos? Whatever next, books??
Behaviour like that will only confirm in normal peoples minds that the military are indeed a bunch of strange, moronic, self-entitled savages, that can only function in an artificial world of their own making.

Get on that Private Jet of yours and fly it up to a great height...and then open the doors - for further enlightenment...

Bill Macgillivray 9th Dec 2019 19:53

Do I vaguely remember (late '50's early '60's) the odd piano being "cat" launched from Eagle/Ark Royal - or is it just old age again?

Bill

langleybaston 9th Dec 2019 20:36


Originally Posted by Private jet (Post 10635808)
Eh? Burning pianos? Whatever next, books??
Behaviour like that will only confirm in normal peoples minds that the military are indeed a bunch of strange, moronic, self-entitled savages, that can only function in an artificial world of their own making.

Serious error: the army have no tradition of piano euthanasia, not even the AAC.

Private jet 9th Dec 2019 20:42


Originally Posted by langleybaston (Post 10635856)
Serious error: the army have no tradition of piano euthanasia, not even the AAC.

My apologies. To be clear, the RAF.

lsh 10th Dec 2019 08:13

There was a much travelled (by helicopter) piano in Norway.

lsh
:E

BlackIsle 10th Dec 2019 08:18

Bill Macgillivray - not sure when the RN might have launched the first piano but there was an occurrence in the late 70's when 892 Squadron returned to Ark Royal with the Leuchars Officers Mess piano which was indeed launched! There was also this clip from an evening tv showhttps://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https...mk_pASCIv0VEuA

Fareastdriver 10th Dec 2019 09:22

I would imagine the launch strop would have cost more than the piano.

Tigger_Too 10th Dec 2019 09:30

There used to be a piano dealer in Stamford who became very familiar with RAF 'traditions' (habits?) re pianos. A telephone enquiry would normally be answered thus:

"Good morning. We'd like to buy a piano"

"Certainly Sir. Are you RAF?"

"Why yes. Why do you ask?

"Do you need a 'player' or a 'burner' Sir"

Jhieminga 10th Dec 2019 11:07

And then there was the party where a piano-shaped stack of pallets was set alight. This, together with shouts of "isn't that your piano" should have been enough. Oh yes, there was also the cleverly concealed forklift that would pick up the real piano, move it behind the cloth backdrop and out of sight. If only we could have had a real forklift driver who could have kept the piano on the forks during the turn.... :(


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