Music and Vision homepage


Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Encounters with Big Hand Span and The Cunning Man,
for Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Dear Alice

On musos/non-musos, I'm reminded of the following lines from The Cunning Man, by Robertson Davies: 'Mrs Gilmartin smiled, and suddenly I saw what may have drawn her and her husband together; they had been united by music, that siren who makes so many bad matches'.

Frank Cranmer

'The Cunning Man' by Robertson Davies

Dear Frank,

Thanks for this: most appropriate.

Ask Alice

Re your last message; Nicola Benedetti is an example of a classical superstar whose name is known not just by classical music fans. At the moment she is probably the most famous classical star in the UK, probably even more of a household name than soprano Katherine Jenkins.

BTW while I applaud your sentiment re the G8 summit, don't you think Bob Geldof is being highly irresponsible, urging 1 million people to march on Edinburgh? This beautiful historic city will probably sustain damage caused by anarchists sent to Edinburgh by Geldof.

Why should Edinburgh taxpayers have to pick up the extra policing bill, when the leader of the Scottish parliament is not even being granted a voice at the G8? By being made to host this summit, Scotland has everything to lose, nothing to gain, and Geldof is making things worse.

Big Hand Span

An encounter with Big Hand Span

Dear Big (the mind boggles)

You make several points, all intelligent, but I can't go along with one of them.

Geldof is actually making it LESS likely that the anarchistic anti-capitalist protesters that have messed up other G8 summits will do so this time. He has done that by urging right-thinking 'normal' non-anti-capitalists to march on Edinburgh. These will (with luck) completely swamp the usual tiny numbers of loonies who tried to wreak havoc at other such meetings. Geldof is not sending anarchists, in short: he is summoning the charitable, unselfish, sometimes church-going middle-Englander (and middle Scots and middle Welsh, while he's at it). These sort of protesters do not (to put it bluntly) pee in the street.

I was (unwillingly, admittedly) part of the Live Aid in Hyde Park twenty years ago, and I can testify to the good behaviour of these kinds of supporters. I was then, having just finished studying, playing regularly in a trio in the London Hilton, and I was stuck en route on a sardine-like jammed tube train, avec cello, for what seemed like hours (but was actually only 25 minutes). They couldn't open the doors, because the platform itself was a heaving mass of bodies. I was not only claustrophobic but also desperately worried for the safety of my cello (I also nearly passed-out in the heat), but found everyone there all good humour, helpfulness and goodwill. The atmosphere, though horrific for me personally, was impressively fantastic.

As for your financial point, it is indeed unfair on Edinburgh rate-payers, but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. The issue is more important than a minor unfairness like that: and the publicity Geldof has already generated for Make Poverty History is (almost literally) priceless. As for representation, I'm afraid that would be imposs. You simply couldn't have Scotland represented without outrage from, for example, the Netherlands, or Finland, or Singapore. The essence of the G8 is that there is a negotiable number of countries present (unlike, for example, the UN). Though I can certainly understand your irritation, as a Scot.

I love Edinburgh too, and have often played at the Edinburgh festival. Have faith: this too will pass, and Edinburgh left as elegant and exquisite as ever.


Copyright © 10 June 2005 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK

Ask Alice






 << M&V home              Alice's previous columns >>