For the second time in my life, I got stuck in an elevator.  This time, with harpist Shelley Fairplay, two helpful volunteers from the Festival “Harpes au Max” in Ancenis, France … and a bottle of wine.

There’s always that fateful little bump.  I quickly slid to the floor – as if that would help.  Shelley followed.  Here’s what we looked like:Shelley-DHC-elevator-scared-faces

The Harpes au Max Festival was well-run and well-equipped.  At that moment — mere seconds after two volunteers had helped us move our harps to our hotel rooms – they were working out how to rescue us from the elevator.  You can see them in the mirror above our heads, discussing our options, and calling for help.

Were we helpless girls?  No.  We were helplessly inarticulate non-french-speaking harp players without working cell phones.

When you don’t speak the language and you don’t have a working cell-phone sometimes you can’t do the simplest things.

10 minutes after the elevator bumped to a standstill between floors, and when scary had turned to tedious, when we’d sung a few rounds of Frere Jacques and the fire department had been alerted, I realized I was still holding the welcome gift-bag the festival had given me.

It contained maps, brochures … and a bottle of local wine. I’d been wondering earlier when I might find time to drink it … and this suddenly seemed like best time.

(Did I mention I’m slightly claustrophobic.  Only not just slightly.)

The helpful volunteers set to work with car keys to push the cork into the bottle.


In case you’ve never tried this — it’s not easy to elegantly drink wine from the bottle when there’s a cork in it.  The fact is, the cork kept plugging the neck of the bottle – making it impossible to get anything out of the bottle …


… until I discovered my finger-nail clippers.

If you hold fingernail clippers in the neck while drinking you can actually keep the cork down far enough to enjoy a sip or two (note below how the cork floats to the top … oh, right, because it’s a cork).


In fact, we didn’t have to wait 30 minutes. Help came much sooner than expected.  And in case you’re wondering – yes, I can now attest that French Firemen are just as handsome as their American counterparts.


We were rescued …


… and Shelley and I celebrated the rest of the wine with actual wine-glasses and friends Myriam Serfass and her lovely partner (actually, Shelley’s drinking sparkling water but the rest of us are enjoying the sweet local wine – the perfect bouquet for an elevator rescue, I might add).


Later that night …


… and a sign of the times …


Thanks to @ElizaMarshall and Shelley Fairplay @HarpWales for photos!

Join for Freebies, Stories & News

Join for Freebies, Stories & News

Join to get weekly-ish emails with stories, videos & events like concerts & classes

Yay! You should get my next newsletter within the next 7-10 days. I'm so happy we'll be in touch!

"5-DAY Harp IMPROV Challenge" 

A FREE Training 
from  Deborah Henson-Conant


Learn the First Step of Freedom: Free Yourself from Reading the Notes on the Page.  Register here to join the challenge

Woohoo! You'r Registered for the 2022 "5-Day Harp Improv" Challenge!