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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Leon Fleisher, beauty and Christmas news,with
classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Dear Alice,

Have you heard that Leon Fleisher is back playing with both hands?


Dear J L,

Thanks for letting me know, great news; I had no idea he'd ever be able to play again, but a quick internet trawl suggests that, not only is he back playing, but he seems better than ever, which seems deeply obnoxious to those of us who only have to lay off for a couple of weeks in the sun to go back to cello square one!!!!!!!!!! (Which is why I moaned so much when separated from my cello as a teenager, in order for my hard-working parents to re-charge their batteries on holiday, but then, I was a very weird child!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)


Ask Alice

Alice -

I just wanted to say you're a very beautiful woman.


Alice McVeigh

Dear anon,

What are you smoking, and where can I get some?????????????

Yours passionately,

Ask Alice

About this of year I begin to think about what to inflict upon my friends by means of Christmas news. This is not because of some bizarre personality disorder (not that I know of, at any rate) but because I have received no fewer than THREE cards from friends (Laura from USA, Gavin from New Zealand and Connie from Canada) THIS WEEK.

Apart from being lightly fried in oil I can think of very few possible punishments suitable for people who are THAT ORGANISED. What are they trying to do to us???? Do they really want to make me feel THIS inadequate?????

However, as I have to post to such far-flung places by Dec. 6 (or is it 7th? Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) around now I start to think about what to say.

There are several possible styles of writing Christmas missives. The first, and most honourable, is to write everyone by hand. Your writer's cramp should sort itself out by Easter, and just think about the warm glow you'll feel (not) !!!!!!!!!! The second is to type on your computer, as almost everyone I know does, a prissy little missive which may be copied 94 times in your local shop without the hope that anyone will even attempt to read it, that's how dull it is. This is roughly how it goes:

Hi all, and there goes another year! SuzieZ got her Grade six clarinet (she bribed the examiner, ha ha!) and Joe is doing very well at Borstal, winning third prize for needlework. We lost dear old Gran, but we kept telling her to stop borrowing the motorcycle, but otherwise all is hotsy-totsy. D is still working in local government, and G is still running her very own bring-and-buy stall at St Saviours. We keep hoping to hear from dear old V, but no luck this year, and the dog's muzzle is still bearing up (the court order said 'Muzzle or death!!!!') Well, I guess that's about all from us, but send us all your news, which we can't wait to hear and what was your first name again? Love and lots and lots of kisses, squiggle.

(This may or may not be accompanied by dorky photo of Squiggle, with or without offspring and/or alsation.)

The third style may be termed the minimum-fuss style. You open up the card to discover (oh joy oh rapture) that someone you DON'T KNOW or NEVER EVEN HEARD OF has sent you a reproduction of Fra Angelico's annunciation, accompanied by something that looks suspiciously like a backwards Z. You would assume that it had been mis-delivered, except that, crystal-clear, you see that the envelope is addressed to Professor and Mrs McVeigh (spelled correctly, amazingly enough). You spend idle moments between Christmas and New Year, of which there are plenty -- which makes a change -- wondering who, if anyone, sent you the Fra Angelico, and stick it in a dark corner, between the three Kings (rather New Tate) affectionately from weroiliw1uqer and a collage snowflake ardently inscribed wncbopwetr.

(Perhaps they are related???)

Copyright © 26 November 2004 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK




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