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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Classical music's agony aunt, ALICE McVEIGH
apologises to her Welsh readers

First of all: an important apology from Alice to all available Welsh readers, whether native speakers or more normal people:

OK, OK, I'm sorry!!!!!!!!!! I didn't really mean it!!!!!!!!!! I really do love Wales!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love the Welsh, with the single solitary exception of J G Rowling, Welsh traffic supremo at the bog-end of the M4.

I love the countryside. I love the sheep. Some of my best friends are Welsh. (Perhaps I should say former best friends????)

Also, the language may look hilarious, and sound like a more-than-averagely-gutteral south German with a severe lisp essaying Dutch, but my favourite poet (D Thomas) was famously Welsh. So is William Mellor, the cellist/hero of my first two novels. Not only that, but I have personally climbed practically every Brecon Beacon over years of walking holidays; and, if I've never managed Snowdon, it is not for lack of trying.

I am also very keen on male voice choirs, in fact, it's funny but the maler a choir sounds, the better I like it.

Fact is, I was just soooooooooooooooo annoyed last week (see 'previous columns') that I got carried away. (So was the principal flute, who got done with the same speed camera about a minute before me. She was even madder than I was.)
So, sorry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[Note from Alice to Keith: is that roughly enough grovelling, d'you think???]

[Note from Keith to Alice: Maybe. Will ask Basil. Don't forget I'm mad about Wales too.]

Oh b*gger.

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

I recently got fed-up with a desk-partner who persisted (every single time the conductor said, 'Bar 94' or bar whatever) in instantly and solicitously putting the tip of her bow on the bar indicated. I got increasingly fed-up as the rehearsal went on, as she'd obviously decided that I couldn't count, didn't care or was likely to bring shame and anguish on our desk by crashing in on the wrong bar, but I couldn't think of anything I could do about it. Is there a suitable riposte or was I right just to set my teeth and endure?

(A stringplayer)

Dear stringplayer,

Of course you were correct to set our teeth and endure. She's probably sleeping with the leader. There must be some explanation of why someone that infuriating continues to be booked.

Yours is not a problem I've ever had, but I can certainly understand how you might feel a touch condescended to. I mean, it's one thing if you're having a giggle with the basses, the conductor murmurs either bar 22 or 52 and you ask your desk partner which -- and it's quite another if that same partner continually and solicitously prompts you, unless you've been out for a liquid lunch and asked her to keep you in the neighborhood of the correct vicinity lest worse befall.

Can't say what I'd have done, in your place. Depending upon how well I knew or liked the desk-partner, I might have said something like, 'I know I'm five years older than you, but I'm still just about compos,' assuming for the purposes of argument that you are.

Or: 'Thanks for the first ninety five cues, think I can just about cope from here on in.'

But if all else failed, I have to say that I can also imagine myself racing her to the bar indicated, our over-eager bows clashing mid-page, until she twigged that I wasn't quite as out to lunch as she'd imagined. (Not so good for the bows though, I accept.)

Other ideas on a postcard ...

Copyright © 24 October 2003 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK



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