Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.

 

Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Talking to the online tutor robot,
with classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Ask Alice

Email from FIRST TUTORS.COM to Alice: There is a man wanting cello lessons. In your galaxy.

ALICE to First Tutors.com [SUSPICIOUSLY]: Um, same part of the same galaxy?

FIRST TUTORS: The man lives within thirty miles of you, peon tutor person.

ALICE: Thirty miles is still a helluva lot of miles, with roads the way they are in my part of the galaxy, robotic person. How keen is he? More to the point, how good is he?

FIRST TUTORS: The man person is described as retired, wishing to learn the cello, a beginner. You can go to visit him, peon person tutor. He would like that, and give us lots and lots of money.

ALICE: I can also tell you to piss off. On my page I specifically state that anyone wishing to study with this particular peon has to present self, nicely smelling — my husband has insisted on that ever since I taught a very gifted teen he christened Smelly — at my door. Which is in —

FIRST TUTORS: Do not speak it!!!!!!! DO-NOT-MENTION-ANY-CONTACTS-OTHERWISE-WE-DIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ALICE: Don't get in a snit. I'm just pointing out, in words of one syllable, that I only teach from my part of the galaxy. Got it?

FIRST TUTORS [WISTFULLY]: So you will not travel to ***********, only 28.5 miles from your hovel, in order to teach this beginner cellist, no travel expenses included? We are sure he is very dishy.

ALICE: I would not do so, First Tutors, if he looked like George Cloony and played like Yo-Yo Ma.

FIRST TUTORS: Perhaps you would like to — BEEP!!!! — but wait, you have not yet agreed to teach online!!!!!! EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE — sorry, just a mo, wrong programme: You are evil not to agree to do this, peon tutor person.

ALICE: I don't wish to teach online. I only teach eyeball to eyeball, with a pupil I can adjust the bow arm of, if you catch my drift. I'm funny like that.

FIRST TUTORS: You would wilfully reject the chance of teaching someone in Iceland, just like that? You are strange, peon tutor person. However, I will arrange for the-one-with-many-phones to bully you about this, several times a week, until you weaken and cease to resist. Farewell, peon tutor person ... BUT WAIT. WHAT IS THIS? YOU HAVE NOT ONLY UNTICKED THE ONLINE TUTORING OPTION BUT YOU HAVE NOT SCANNED YOUR PASSPORT PHOTO !!!!!   EXTERMINATE, EXTERMIN —

ALICE: You never told me I had to. It's no big deal.

FIRST TUTORS: But you know that we have as many annoying things like this as the tax people. You know that, when our CEO can't sleep, he dreams up new hoops for the revolting peasants — oops, I mean peon tutors — to jump through. DO IT NOW, PEON PERSON!!!!!

ALICE: Oh, all right. Here it comes, in the email. See? Bad passport photo of me, age, serial number ...

FIRST TUTORS: EMAILS ARE NOT SECURE EMAILS ARE NOT SECURE EMAILS ARE NOT SECURE EMAILS ARE NOT SECURE

ALICE: Bloody hell, what's insecure about them? Anyway, my scanner's not speaking to my computer at the moment. They've had a tiff.

FIRST TUTORS: Let us get this straight, peon tutor person. First you reject the offer to go to a lovely kind keen retired man who very possibly resembles George Clooney and who lives in your very own galaxy, only an hour or two from you in the-place-that-cannot-be-named, for around the minimum wage, counting travel time.

Then you refuse to register to teach online, even though you are aware that he-who-rules has decreed that all peons should be so willing, so that we can snaffle punters desperate-to-force-feed learning to their peon children all over the world MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA — excuse me — and NOW you refuse to understand that, for SECURITY SECURITY SECURITY SECURITY SECURITY (how I lurve the sound!!!!!) reasons we cannot accept a passport scanned to our email. Is this correct?

ALICE: Absolutely spot-on. My printer is in a mood, see previous memo. But before you go into exterminate mode, I quit.

FIRST TUTORS: You do what, peon tutor person?

ALICE: I quit. I resign. You are annoying me. In several years you have not once sent me a useful lead. You take too much money for your service. You prey on parental insecurities and encourage Tiger Mothers. You have an outrageous mindset towards the people who make you your money. You behave as if you rule the universe and I don't care for your attitude. Byesie-bye!!!!!

FIRST TUTORS: It does not matter. There are many other peon tutors. But wait — you are a writer also ... [WHIMPERS] You will not tell the punters about our true character, peon tutor person? You would not do that — to us — after all we have done for you and all the millions of other peon tutor people in your galaxy?

Copyright © 29 May 2015 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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