Making Matters: A cautionary tale for our times

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When a cello suffered a calamitous hand sanitiser accident, it looked irreparable at first sight. John Simmers explains how he restored it to the way it was pre-Covid

Last October I received a text message from a friend that contained a rather disturbing photo of a cello with badly damaged varnish. My initial response to the damage I saw was ‘Whoa – I don’t want anything to do with sorting that out!’ As it turned out, I knew the cello and its owner quite well and for a number of reasons I couldn’t help becoming involved. It transpired that during a rehearsal, while the cello was sitting on the floor, a fellow musician had unknowingly bumped a bottle of hand sanitiser on a nearby table. Somehow the sanitiser splattered on to the front of the cello, making a large area of the lower bout resemble something from a crime scene. When the cellist returned minutes later, he noticed all the white marks on the cello and realised what had happened…

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