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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

A tale of cricket and children's books
with classical music's agony aunt, ALICE McVEIGH
(resuming her occasional use of symbols of mass exclamation)

Dear Alice,

I find that I prefer to practise while the cricket is on. Am I hopeless or too intelligent to enjoy Sevcik with chips?

Professional violin, North East

Dear nameless violin,

If you are hopeless, matey, you're certainly not alone ... I personally am never happier than on a day such as today (crocuses burgeoning, daffodils blooming) with the cricket on Sky Sport, alternating between messing about in the kitchen/tidying up and practising the Dvorák for the concert on March 28th with the Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra, while the good old subconscious is busy weighing up the chances of the West Indies foozling us out for a pittance and swiping the match.

There is, of course, a rival school of thought, which maintains that football is better for the purpose, but really this is bootless (probably literally). Cricket is not only the more artistic, but the more dramatic sport; football its instantaneous, youthful, gut-reaction cousin. How could one practise during a football match???? If you are at all emotionally involved -- and what are you doing clocking it if not -- football demands a minute-by-minute concentration entirely foreign to the true cricket-lover's nature. Cricket indeed is so ideal for the purpose of practice (or having on to avoid brain-death during scale practice etc) that no less a genius than Perlman apparently has cricket on while practising. If you happen to get stuck in to your Sevcik, and a wicket falls or a stunning catch is swiped, there's always the instant replay, while the unfolding power of the momentum (especially over a five-day match) affords plenty of moments where, frankly, you might as well be practising ...


Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

I am a double-bass player with two daughters and I am going crazy. This is not because they practice much (both violin) but because of their adoration of the Famous Five series of books (by Enid Blyton). How can I escape from reading these to them without telling them what I think (that they are a load of rubbish!)

N C, Edinburgh

Dear N C,

I am a cellist with one daughter, and feel much the same. I wouldn't mind her reading the Famous Five or the Snoring Seven, or even the ever-present Harry Potter to herself, which she can do, as I'm sure your daughters can, but the evidence is stacked against us, and Reading to One's Offspring shows up in every study as being The Bee's Knees, even when they're practically teenagers. Hence the trauma of women (and men) in our position. I have composed this rip-off of the Famous Five, in order to relieve my own feelings re same, which I am happy to share with you, and others similarly afflicted.

The Famous Five in Baghdad

'Jolly good show, Timmy!' said George heartily, whomping her beloved dog about the head and concussing it. 'I knew those Weapons of Mass Destruction were about somewhere!'

'Yes, so did I,' said Anne happily, 'Now what anal-retentive thing can I do at this point? Clean the cave? Wash up some dishes? Or just tidy the rubbish bin?'

'But what about that fishy-looking Arab chappie?' asked Dick. 'I didn't much like the way he was carrying those Scud missiles. Dashed fishy, I call it!'

'You're right, Dick,' said Julian, in that irritating, I-am-the-eldest-and-know-it-all fashion in which he specialises. 'I wonder where he's gone?'

'Look!' said George, who is a girl, 'That's him entering the secret cave with the X marked over the middle square!'

'Good heavens, yes!' said Julian. 'You see almost as well as a boy, George!'

George blushed with pleasure. 'Yes, I should be having the op any day now!'

'Oh dear, we've lost the trail,' said Dick, 'and I feel quite hungry as well. What I wouldn't give for lashings of ham, tomatoes, ginger beer and egg sandwiches!'

'Well, what a surprise!' said Julian. 'I just happen to have brought along those very things!'

'Hoorah!' cried everyone, except for the mysterious Arab carrying three or four Scud missiles, and they all sat down and had a jolly good tea.

(Here Anne has a heart-attack at the idea of eating sandwiches without paper plates, is revived by Timmy the dog, and everyone lives happily and burpily ever after.)

Did that help at all?????


Copyright © 19 March 2004 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK



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