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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH
has something on her mind this week ...

Dear Alice,
You won't remember me, but I used to be your neighbour, three doors away but one, who always used to hand out lots of sweets to your daughter and her ninety five friends each Halloween. I don't expect credit, but I also regularly buy your books and read your column. Imagine my discomfiture when, upon crashing into your grocery trolley at Sainsbury's you said, 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, gosh, sorry, F-sharp, G, A-flat.'

I hope I'm not a fussy person but it does seem to me that this is a curious way to greet someone known to you for many years.
Anon in Orpington

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Dear Mrs McVeigh,
It has come to my attention that, upon our recent application to read your electricity meter, you neglected to even open the door, despite four phone calls and a considerable amount of time spent in doorbell-ringing and door-rapping.
Instead, a strange, wailing, Jewish noise came through the window, punctuated by 'Oh, bugger'. It is not, of course, for us to criticize the behaviour of customers in their own homes, but it sounded vaguely as if a cat was being tortured, and our employee was concerned enough to call us with regard to contacting the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Yours, concerned,
G B W of British Electricity
PS Would be grateful also to read the meter.

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Dear Alice,
I don't know what got into you at our match yesterday, but I've never seen you so off your game. When we lost the first set, you said, 'One generation passeth away and another generation cometh; And the earth abideth forever', and when you lost your serve, instead of blaming your partner (me) you said something about Hadad the Edomite which made no (zero) sense at all.
Is this some kind of fundamentalist cult?
Are you off your nut?
Wendy of Sidcup

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Dear all,

I'm sorry if I've been a bit funny lately, but (A, B-flat, A, C-sharp) I have had something on my mind (oh, and by the way, it's pretty crucial not to worship Ashtoreth, the god of the Zidonians and Milcom. As is pretty generally recognised, this brings the wrath of God on his nation.) I am playing Bloch's magnificent Schelomo (apparently Hebrew for Solomon, and telling the story of King Solomon's life) shortly with a very good orchestra, and as Bloch himself wrote -- and he said a mouthful -- 'I have but listened to an inner voice, deep, secret, insistent, ardent, an instinct much more than cold and dry reason, a voice which seemed to come from far beyond myself, far beyond my parents ... a voice which surged up in me.'

(E, E-flat, E, yes, got it.) So basically you can't expect anything any more intelligent than a vague, Jewish-style buzzing until November 17th is over (but wouldn't it sound spookier up the D-string?)

Or possibly later, as this obsession may pass, along with the Hittites, the borders of the Euphrates, the Ammonites and the King of Zobah, who certainly came to a sticky end, in common with practically everybody in the Old Testament, of course.

As E Bloch wrote: 'It is rather the Hebrew spirit that interests me, the complex, ardent, agitated soul that vibrates for me in the Bible. The vigor ... the violence ... the burning love of justice ... the sorrow ... and the sensuality. All this is in us, all this is in me, and it is the better part of me.'

O God, that is so beautiful. (G, F-sharp, G. No vibrato, as King S is shuffling off his mortal coil at this point, leaving three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines alike inconsolable.)

And then there's the bit where the orchestra rises up like a tidal wave and drowns me.

Sorry, what was your beef again?
Cordially,
Alice
PS And what price the Queen of Sheba?
PPS And is it still kosher if I'm not Jewish?
PPPS Oy Vay

Copyright © 19 October 2007 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK

Ask Alice

THE MUSIC OF ERNEST BLOCH

ERNEST BLOCH'S WORKS FOR CELLO

A REVIVAL OF BLOCH'S EARLY C SHARP MINOR SYMPHONY

A HISTORY AND ANALYSIS OF BLOCH'S 'SCHELOMO'

THE BROMLEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

THE ROYAL SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS

WRITE NOW TO 'ASK ALICE'

THE ASK ALICE HOMEPAGE

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