This week I would like to share with you a story. Before we decided to settle down and set up Hands on Harps, Morwenna and I spent 3 years living from our music and travelling all around the world. We would busk most days, and play various gigs including restaurants and weddings. This story is from one of the more unusual gigs we played.
One balmy evening we were busking in the Spanish city of Huelva when a young man in his mid 20s was watching us in amazement. After a while he came over to us, introduced himself as Raphael and started talking to us in Spanish. We didn’t understand him and we repeatedly told him this, but in true Spanish style he was not deterred. He began to act and mime, saying the occasional English word. He seemed to be gesticulating two people having a meal, then us coming and playing music. He then got down on one knee, and then mimed happy crying. That was when we figured out he was asking us to play while he proposed to his girlfriend. Already taken with his efforts to communicate this, we agreed that in two days we would turn up at his chosen restaurant and play the theme tune from the film Love Story (apparently her favourite song) while he popped the question. The following day we met him in the streets again, he paid us and once again acted out the whole scene of the evening to come in hope that we would know what we were doing. He again mimed us playing our music, him getting down on one knee, and her crying with happiness.
On the day of the proposal we were playing in the street before the event. Two hours before we were due to play at the restaurant we saw Raphael running past us. Five minutes later we saw him running past again. We smiled at him and waved as this was the extent of our Spanish. This time he came over, panting and sweaty. He said to us in a well rehearsed manner “I haave lowst the reeng” followed by a less rehearsed “one hora mi fon.” Trying not to laugh we said ok and off he ran. We watched him banging on the doors of the, now closed, shops he had been shopping in that day in a desperate attempt to retrace his steps to find the ring. An hour passed but we had no phone call from Raphael, so after an hour and a half we called him. When he answered he said “yes you come but one hora later.” Relived we packed up our gear and headed to the underground parking garage where our van was to get dolled up ready for the big moment.
When we arrived at the restaurant the staff were all expecting us. There was a sense of excitement and secrecy in the air. We were ushered into a back room and told to wait for a text to tell us when to come in and start. The waiting felt endless until the nervous silence was broken by the startling beep of a text coming through. This was it the moment of truth. We entered into the restaurant and set up by their table. The whole restaurant was looking. Raphael was looking pale and clammy. We began to play and as soon as we played the first line of the song a ripple of realization flurried across her face and she knew what was happening. She pulled in closer and grabbed his hand and gazed lovingly at him, her eyes were beginning to sparkle with tiny tears and everyone including us was on the edge of their seats waiting for the moment to arrive. We played another round of the song, then another and another until we finally decided to end the song as it was rather repetitive and it was getting a bit awkward. When we stopped Raphael turned to his girlfriend and said “Happy Birthday” followed by nervous clapping.
We left the restaurant that night in fits of giggles and a completely renewed love for Spain.
In later translated emails he told us that he hadn’t found the ring and didn’t dare to propose without one. He later told me that he was glad it had happened like that as they had realised they weren’t perfect for each other after all and had broken up!
Do you have any harp related stories? We’d love to hear them. Email us [email protected]