And the cause of all this excitement is... a piano accordion. I've been intrigued by them for years, and have been tempted more than once to ask if I can have a go when I've seen people playing them at gigs and dances, but the end of the evening when people were wanting to pack up and go home never seemed a very propitious time.
However, a few weeks ago I went of a short 'craft holiday', and several people there had accordions. As they seemed friendly types, I plucked up courage, and asked one of them if I could have a try on his accordion. I got a positive reception, but this was a large, 120-button affair, and I couldn't even see over the top of it. I needed something smaller. I was advised to consider buying a second-hand instrument, as if I didn't get on with, I could probably sell it a few months down the line for more or less the same as I bought it for.
I decided to look into this possibility, and asked one of the guys who plays at our local folk dance club where one might go to buy an accordion in Birmingham. He's given me details of Birmingham's last specialist accordion shop (in a truly improbable location!), but also offered to let me have a go on his 72 button accordion. I've just got back from his house (where he has a truly amazing collection of old instruments in various states of repair), with a shiny red Hohner Arietta in tow. The thing I'm finding trickiest at the moment is remembering to keep opening and closing the bellows ('cos if you don't, you don't get any sound out). But it's a gorgeous piece of kit, and I'm already pretty convinced that I want one!