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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

A heartfelt cri-de-coeur from
classical music's agony aunt, ALICE McVEIGH

Dear Alice

I attended a New Year lunchtime concert in a local church. One performer stood out for me, a local cellist (and author of soft-porn novels) who shocked the barley-sugar-sucking, middle-class audience by letting rip with a remarkably audible cry of 'Bloody hell' after just missing an enormous shift in a work on one string by Paganini. Is this sort of thing to be encouraged in the House of God? Ordinarily I would have been shocked but on this occasion I was disappointed that a chasm into the fiery depths failed to appear. It is not that I wished any harm to this blasphemer, it was more that the central heating had broken down over the Christmas period and I was absolutely freezing.

What are your views on the insidious increase of swearing amongst the lower strings?


Gloria Stoatgobbler
Sunnylawn Home for the Terminally Damp

PS Following Christmas I have a large number of exclamation marks (unwanted gift) -- they are of no use to me, would you like them?

Dear Ms Stoatgobbler
alias Abysmal Slime / Husband of best friend / DGriffs,

Frankly, I'd like to see you getting through Paganini's ruddy Variations on One String sans profanation on your viola (yes, readers, we are talking a violist here, and shameless with it) wherever you happened to be playing it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, it ill behooves a godless wonder, such as your abysmal slimatude, to rebuke a church-goer like myself, especially one who is annually having to fight off well-meaning if mistaken moves (I know it sounds unbelievable) to make a church elder out of me. (Yes, the United Reform Church is that desperate. The United Reform welcomes everyone, novelists -- and they are not soft porn!!!!!!! -- small girls who dance in the aisle, politicians, the lot ... As for the eldership, as long as you omit to push hard drugs, believe me, you're a shoo-in.)

But yes, I did allow the above-mentioned comment to pass my lips, in a spasm of irritation, having practised -- yes practiced, meaning putting bow to string with no pecuniary reward; you should try it sometime -- that one shift until the dachshunds ran howling from the room, the goldfish started doing backstroke in frantic circles and even my giant African landsnail looked up from his morning cucumber and waved his horns in feeling sympathy.

Yes, I'd done it, all that slog, that unremitting, finger-bending work, and then, in the heat of the action (not that there was much heat in that church, as you pungently observed) I missed the shift. I still can't believe it, frankly. Not that shift. The shift I'd so lovingly worked on!!!!!! The one shift I'd laboured over, even putting (don't tell anyone) a tiny pencil mark an inch from the end of the fingerboard in order to assist its nailing!!!!! The one shift I was after -- boing!!!!!!!!!! Gone, missed, kaput, and beyond hope of salvage!!!!!!!!!!!!! How could anyone witness this unfair, unheralded and unwitting disaster and fail to forgive my little, teensy weensy, barely murmured, hardly-audible-beyond-the-first-three-rows cri de coeur???????

I ask you, my loyal readers -- yes, I ask you both -- was I to blame????????

Dial 0897654321 to vote yes; dial 0800654322 to vote NO!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Calls to vote no are free. Calls to vote yes are charged at 94 pounds a minute peak rate, 122 pounds at all other times, except the second Sunday in Lent and the third Sunday of Pentecost, when it will cost 122 pounds a minute peak rate and 194 pounds at all other times and by the time you've just listened to this little lot you already owe us 89 pounds ha ha got you there didn't we?)

All Music and Vision awaits your verdict, with bated breath.
(Translation: Keith and Basil have a bet on it.)


PS Free binder with part one!!!!!!! Two free binders with part two!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Offer available to registered 'no' voters only.)

All Risks Musical -- book cover

PS Many thanks for the exclamation marks, by the by, which are always so useful oops I think they just ran out

Ask Alice

Alice I have a science project thats on cats but i cant find any information on it can you help?

Sod the science project, what you need, kiddo, is grammar lessons. For example, I, you'll be amazed to hear, is always capitalised when on its own. Secondly, I didn't put an apostrophe between the 'it' and the 's' in my last sentence because I didn't mean 'it is' but just plain old 'its'. That this is clearly opposed to your fundamental beliefs, however, is evidenced by the fact that you signally failed to bung in an apostrophe on 'thats' even though in that particular case you really did mean 'that is' (on cats). You were equally remiss with 'cant', when the word(s) you were actually after was 'can't.'

It is also usual when starting a sentence, as you did, with a name, to put a comma after it, as in 'Mrs Stoatgobbler, your letter is rubbish'. Finally, the kindest description of your entire letter is of the rankest possible run-on, as you have adroitly (or not) combined no fewer than three sentences in one (I have a science project on cats. I can't find any information on it. Can you help?)

Other than that, however, I'm confident that you're science project thats on cats will be a terrif sucess just shove in cats on Google and see wot they cum up w/ ignoring catwimmen suits on ebay (Bye the wy, has it ocured to u that this is a frigging music colum and that i am rubish re cat's)
urs cord.

PS Aksh I blame texting and not u

Copyright © 30 January 2004 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK




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