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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

A brush with the law
for classical music's agony aunt, ALICE McVEIGH

Dear Alice,

I am a member of an orchestra which snatches handbags. Now I know that sounds funny but believe me it isn't, when it's your handbag, even if you get it back after the concert and even if it's been guarded during the event.

Point is, sometimes you need spare strings. Sometimes you just need spare rosin. Sometimes you just need to know that your visa card is where you last put it (before your partner murders you.)

I know that some people 'try it on' with gigantic bags on stage, and I know it looks terrible but why can't the rest of us keep our decorative little lipstick holder efforts?

Yours sincerely,
A disgruntled string-player

Dear disgruntled,

Yes, I too play in a couple of bands where bags get (temporarily) snatched, and I too feel, if not disgruntled, at least not very gruntled about it.

For I too think, 'How long, O Lord, before I see my beloved mastercard again??'

The answer is surely for orchestral managers to discriminate between the monstrous one-metre-by-one-metre bags to which you refer and the delicate decorative little black powder-puff clutch-bag efforts for stage use. (Though one can of course envisage horny-handed double basses saying, 'What? This bag isn't small enough? Says who, exactly??')

In the meantime, my advice is to grin and bear it. The backstage people will keep vigilant watch, and (should you be really worried) you can always keep your 20 and credit card nestled inside your bra (ouch!!)

Cordially,
Alice

Ask Alice

Why oh why does nobody ever ask me questions about really important things, such as speed cameras on the M4 in Wales?

This would be good:

Dear Alice,

Why oh why are there speed cameras on the M4 in Wales set to do you for going (and I am not kidding) at 72mph??? I mean, what exactly is the point of a motorway if you can't go at 72mph??? It's not exactly the Princess-Royal-late-for-an-engagement-with-her-bay-hunter-120mph-or-bust speed, is it??? Also, we're talking 10:36pm, post-concert, zero traffic, on a mercy mission of bringing (on the evidence, much needed) culture to Swansea, the armpit of Wales.

Araf -- Heddlu

If the South Wales Police (Heddlu De Cymru) have nothing better to do than slap 50mph speed limits (sans roadworks, yet) on hapless motorists who are after all on a motorway then in my opinion they ought to go back to school and learn how to pronounce mae'n ofynnol I chi roi'r wybodaeth ar y ffurflen amgaeedig until their eyes bubble.

PS I note that the Swyddog a Gofal o'r Uned Diogelwch Camera (Officer in Charge of Safety Camera Unit, and no, I'm not adding any capital letters either) is one J G Rowling.

Perhaps this is a clue. This unfortunate officer, obliged either to constantly maintain that he (a) is either J K's unlucky first spouse or (b) is absolutely no relation, has become embittered to the point of madness. Cackling while rubbing his greasy hands with glee, he slaps a 50mph zone plumb-smack in the middle of a motorway (normal speed limit: 70mph), pots a first offender lacking a Welsh dragon on its boot, and voila, one wasted day in the middle of Wales, bringing Beethoven to the masses.

What do you think?

Signed,
A musician

To which I could then respond:

Dear musician,

I blwch cyfeiriad roddir Troseddwyr drwy hyn achos Cymru nevrrrreeeahr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alice

(Translation: I love you and I want to have your children, and never take them to Wales).

Copyright © 17 October 2003 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK

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