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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH's
classical music humour column
is clear as a mountain stream,
and guaranteed free from
tamagotchis, tennis and tuba trios

Dear Alice,

Don't know if you print letters of thanks to other people, but just wanted to say THANKS to Derek Roberts violins, from whom I recently bought a defective cello case, (he was the intermediary, not the case maker) and who insisted on reimbursing me even for returning it to him!

Carry on the good work,
G. Johns, Huddersfield
PS www.violins.demon.co.uk is the web address, if you print this!

Dear Mr/Ms Johns,

Good to hear of honest violin dealers (I think I've heard good things about Derek Roberts before, though I can't recall in what context) and thanks for writing.

Cordially,
Alice

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

I have a problem with a fellow member of my section, so I'd rather not mention any names, including my own, but I just wondered if you had any ideas. This person is behind me in the section (though not at the back, I play at number three) and has been rude to me ever since I joined. He never says hi, and if I sit at the same table he moves away at once. If I say hello, he jerks his head at me, and -- that's it! I don't know how I could have offended him. Please tell me what I can do to sort out the situation, which is embarrassing to say the least.

(name supplied)

Dear anon.,

I'm a bit puzzled to figure out why you are embarrassed. Here you are a new person (your sex rather obviously not given) in a section; and there is one boor (male) who can't take it. With exemplary politeness you continue to offer him chances to show you some kind of civility -- and you take these rebuffs, instead of getting annoyed, as reason to be embarrassed!!!!!!

Will I offend you if I suggest that this makes you sound not only very sweet but also very young -- and, for all your caution, irredeemably female?

Your conscience should be as clear as a mountain stream. You are doing all anyone could do -- and much more than most would bother with. There are tens (probably 50-90) people in that orchestra, and anyone who can be friends with them all is by definition heading for a nervous breakdown.

My advice is this: get a wide-tipped magic marker and put this above your kitchen table/bed/computer:

SOME PEOPLE WILL NOT LIKE YOU HOWEVER HARD YOU TRY. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK AND ENJOY THE ONES WHO DO!!!!!!!

My diagnosis is one of these (you know better than I)

  1. He was in for the job you got, and can't forgive you for beating him.
  2. He doesn't think women ought to be in orchestras, end of story.
  3. His ulcer is hurting him
  4. You remind him of his estranged daughter/cousin/mother (pick one)
  5. he is just an embittered so-and-so who should never have gone into a convivial profession such as music

Good luck!!!!!!
Cordially,
Alice

Copyright © 16 June 2006 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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