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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Is Beethoven in your toothbrush?
Talk to our Classical Music Agony Aunt, ALICE McVEIGH

Dear readers,

Have been afflicted this week with my new three best friends: M, S and D, who are as I scribble putting in (bless them! Blessings be upon them and their children for generations!!!!!) my new kitchen.

The fact that they eff and blind the whole time, only talk about bloody Tottenham bloody Hotspurs, bang doors, drive off-road vehicles for pleasure and traumatize (a) both sausage dogs (b) both Giant African Landsnails and (c) all the fish is neither here nor there.

The point to bear in mind is that (once they have finished) I will have a kitchen with doors that open and drawers that close ... a kitchen less than forty years old that is actually, in a good mood, cleanable. (OK, I know: we've kind of postponed dealing with it, in the interests of other things!!!!!!) A kitchen not creaking at the edges, where the edges, in fact, are close against each other, and firm and sturdy edges ... the sort of edges which made the Empire what it was ... Sorry? Right, yes, I HAVE wandered off the point a goodish bit.

Anyway, where was I? Except for being in the midst of complete and utter chaos: with canned goods in the guestroom, bread-making gear in our bedroom, utensils in my kid's room and everything else basically ANYWHERE ELSE ...

Ask Alice

Dear Alice:

Did you hear about the female astronaut in the news? Do you think orchestras should carry out psychological profiling of new members (and conductors) to prevent them murdering each other?

Dear Brian,
I don't think, to be honest, that any such psychological profile would be of any use whatsoever.

For a start, though a great supporter of psychoanalysis in general, I deny that it would uncover anything. Here would be your average conductor's profile:

(Secret, psychoanalysist's profile: This guy is a disaster zone. His father beat him; his mother cheated on his father with both uncles, all of his siblings committed suicide and he thinks that Beethoven is in his toothbrush, whispering to him how to interpret the lesser symphonies.)

Here is the self-same conductor's profile:

Shrink: You had troubles in your family, I believe?
Conductor: Nein!!!!!
Shrink: You had nine problems, then?
Conductor: Nein! I had zee no trobbles.
Shrink: Your siblings' deaths. Were they accidents?
Conductor: Exactly.
Shrink: You don't think that binding yourself to the tracks of a steam train counts as premeditation?
Conductor: Nein!!!!
Shrink: And being discovered hanging from an oak tree?
Conductor (with a wave of the hand): Thees was merely zee unlucky accident.
Shrink: Right. Now, how would you describe your parents' marriage?
Conductor (sharply): Who said zay were married?
Shrink: Sorry, their relationship?
Conductor (suspiciously): Who speaks of zees -- relationship?

And so on. Basically of no practical use at all. The only way of telling whether murder might ensue might be one of those tests that MI6 and the CIA are developing, which measure the level of agitation present in the patient, oops I mean musician (sorry, am including conductors under this category, strictly for the sake of argument). Now these babies send off shrieking levels of alarm, as soon as the person comes within range.

In my humble opinion, these ought to be fitted, without delay, near the entrance areas of every rehearsal venue or concert hall in the world. Otherwise, it is a mere matter of time before enough hydrogen peroxide and nails is combined, with a seriously detrimental effect to the leading soprano's hairstyle, worldwide.


Copyright © 9 February 2007 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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