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This week, a raging head-colb forb
Classicub Musib Abonub Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Dearb loyalb readersub,
You will instantly be able do infer that I have a raging head-colb.
However, this is ab nought combared wid what I've been through this week.

Here was de first blow:

dear alice,
how many pieces of music did Beethoven write. and how many did he perform.

Now this may seem a perfectly innocuous question -- though of course completely fatuous, as surely Wikipedia or some such could tell you that, or else you could add up (duh!!!) the Opus numbers and add them to the WoO numbers and Bob's your uncle. But this person -- or her near relative -- asks me this question with such vapid constancy (every few months, on average) that all I can think of is (a) this is a set-up and my best friend's husband is at it again or (b) -- oh ghastly thought -- this is a question on some nationwide intelligence test or exam, than which, frankly, nothing could be stupider.

But what breaks my heart about it (you guessed it) is that this generation (for surely this C, whose first name -- though female -- I have shortened out of a misguided kindness, and in order to spare her blushes) knoweth neither punctuation nor capitalization. No doubt C, when her teacher's earthly toils have meandered to an end, will trundle out into a cold cruel world writing letters such as this:

dear sir
i wd like a job at your buziness. Wd that be poss.

Not to mention letters of complaint such as this:

dear NTl
wot I wd like to no is why the tv dosnt werk. who do u think u r.

Yes, the nation which produced not only the world's all-time greatest playwright (Shakespeare) and world's all-time greatest novelist (Austen) and world's all-time greatest poet (Auden) has come to this!!!!!!

However, I consoled myself with the thought that, as of this morning, upon opening my front door there would be nothing to be seen beyond except a great long unending stream of lovely wood. Yes, sirree, I knew that, with the wood already acclimatizing itself like mad in the front room (which, incidentally, it takes up most of) nothing could go wrong.

I welcomed my new best friend (sorry, all the rest of you; women are fickle!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Barry with open arms, made him comfy with tea and biscuits and heard about his children (3) and animals (2). Then the blow fell. When Barry lifted the kitchen floor (you remember, the one brilliantly adapted for being the perfect kitchen floor, having as it does a surface so slippery that even my Giant African Landsnails can't stick to it -- the one that almost killed me once) he discovered that there was Damp, and Damp (when intoned in a voice of doom in a voice like Barry's) means No Way Jose -- not today. And, given Barry's schedule (because Barry is a busy lad; he doesn't waste his time shoving bits of horsehair over silver-wound wire, not he) this means not tomorrow, or even day after tomorrow. And given the fact the Barry is off to Tenerife the next week, we're looking at April 4th, by which time the bloody wood will be so acclimatized that little wormys will have moved in. In short, the way things are looking, I expect Simon to be old and grey and self to have had another edition of my chin published before we get another over (a) the tiling in the front porch (b) the parquet of the front hall and (c) the now tasteful grey cement on the kitchen floor ...

Oh, and did I mention my tennis elbow?? Or that the hob died last week??? Or that my little red car (the one the policeman thought had been abandoned) was decreed week before last by my husband to be not cost-effective to repair and is now the proud possession of a fellow called Erbert, who owns not only an optimistic disposition but 150 cash?

(However, life is not all bad. I got a kick out of kicking that old kitchen floor out of the back door and disconsolately onto the lawn. It may have skidded me so hard that it raised a lump the size of a tennis ball on the back of my head and knocked me unconscious, but who got the last word there????)

Copyright © 23 March 2007 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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