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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

On the relative merits of Bach and Wagner,
with Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Did you hear Wagner's Ring in a day on BBC3? It was amazing!
John in Leeds

Dear John,

I did indeedy -- or rather, I heard quite a lot of it. We skipped Das Rheingold because we heard it last week at the Kennedy Center in D C (sorry to brag but it WAS a brilliant production) but I caught most of the rest while writing cheques, cleaning the kitchen etc. I meant to fall asleep to Götterdämmerung but unluckily it was so terrific (Anne Evans!!!!!!!) that I stayed awake right the way up to the final chord ... My husband, a musicologist, told me roughly what was going on when I rather lost track of who exactly had got the ring at the moment (at one point I was pretty sure it been sold on Ebay) but it was a great idea of the Beeb's to do the whole Ring in a day -- almost as good as their all-Bach epic last Christmas. (Not quite as good, of course, because Bach is quite simply the Maestro, as far as I'm concerned.)

I also find that the two composers affect me in hugely different ways. After hearing Bach I am resolved to be a better, kinder, more upliftingly noble human being. After hearing Wagner I somehow er ... don't.

Sometimes I wonder why this should be ...

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

It is important that people know about herpes, because genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, with as many as one million people in the United States becoming infected each year.

Herpes is a very common virus with an unfair stigma, as many people associate someone who has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), as sexually irresponsible or promiscuous. I got herpes after having been intimate only one time with the man I was engaged to. A woman I know got herpes after having been raped. There are people out there who got herpes through birth to a woman with genital herpes. There are people out there who get herpes from a spouse or partner who did not know it, or perhaps got it themselves because they were unfaithful.

Also, testing for genital herpes is not part of a standard screen when you are being tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). So a person might get test results that indicate they do not have an STI, when in fact, they very well might.

What a lot of people do not realize is that 25% of all Americans have genital herpes. That's a little over 73 million people. Out of that number, only 2% actually KNOW they have genital herpes ...

[... continues for ninety-nine more pages -- Editor]

Michelle Landry

Dear Michelle,

WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS????? I do not care about herpes. I am personally and passionately concerned about third world debt, the England Cricket team and about the ultimate fate of the semi-colon but I don't give a toss about a disease I haven't personally got that fails to kill anybody. My advice to you is to get a life -- fast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yours, bored,

PS Actually there is one -- very mildly -- interesting thing about herpes, something your endlessly dull letter signally failed to address. This is -- why it isn't pronounced herps? Answers on a postcard to
yours, still basically very bored indeed,

Copyright © 21 April 2006 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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