Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller


Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH
begs help and advice from her readers

Alice Dear readers,

I need help and advice.

Bradley Thompson's self-development newsletter -- of all things -- has finally defeated me.

Yes, I can cope with insults to my masculinity (non-existent) and even wheedling pleas to forward my bank account details to conniving bastards in Nigeria, Zimbabwe or elsewhere.

And yes, I can cope with people determined to sell me stocks, life insurance and miracle hair products.

What has frankly got me down is this improbably handsome grinning jerk of my favorite age (how did they know that I like grey-haired guys??) urging me to sign up for his 'self-development newsletter' -- without, I have to tell you, so much as a pip -- or alternatively squeak -- on my side to suggest that (a) I am not more than fully developed already (b) I think this sort of site is pure hokum or (c) I ardently wish Bradley Thompson to be at the bottom of the nearest available sea.

In case you think this harsh, you ought to know that I have tried, readers. I have clicked clicks and not answered emails. I have, in short, done all that any reasonable person of my age and sex -- OK, let's be honest -- any age and sex -- can do to inform Brad (he of the whiter-than-white tooth choppers) and/or his earthly representatives, to assure him (or them) that I don't give a hoot.

I am developed enough. Develop me any more, frankly, and one toys with near-perfection.

My attempts to send direct to trash (not passing GO, not collecting 200 pounds) have been bypassed by the smarmy representatives of (you guessed it) Bradley Thompson.

So I have this final message to him/them: p*** off forever.

(All better suggestions gratefully received.)

Yours, very cordially,

Ask Alice

? ' Dear Mrs McVeigh,

Thank you so much for your alarmingly public letter concerning my company's founder and senior partner.

I sympathize fully with your plight. Are you sure that one of your 'friends' didn't sign you up to our list as a practical joke?

We suggest that you simply write (or preferably visit) our organisation at the address below and ask for immediate removal from our (positive) personal development mailing list. (Please don't forget to include your date of birth, mother's maiden name and bank account and credit card numbers, PIN codes and online passwords in all correspondence, so that we can easily verify that the instructions received are, indeed, from your good and extremely well-developed self.)

We do occasionally have problems with over-developed and opinionated individuals such as yourself who feel less needy of general shepherding than other occupants of this fragile planet. Of course we respect your opinions and, indeed, feel humbled by your efforts to improve the efficiency and accuracy of our marketing and selection processes. To put this into perspective, however, we receive fewer than four complaints per year from an annual total of more than seven million direct contacts with people in desperate need of help, such as yourself.

On analysis, it appears that the problem here is simply that you personally are too well developed! It could be catastrophically dangerous for you to undergo any further (positive) personal self-development. But relax ... we have a simple and effective solution. Our new and patented range of negative development courses includes a one-to-one student-tutor-ratio personally-targeted course designed to let out the steam from over-cocky societal menaces such as your good self and the two misguided creatures you persuaded to write us. Although it may not seem at first that you would benefit from such a course, the advantages are at least threefold:

Firstly, your massive over-development is reduced quickly, in a similar fashion to bursting a bubble -- there's no long and painful course of treatment that you'd experience with, for example, dieting (for which we also run an award-winning series of hack surgery). Our inexperienced but well-paid tutors can induce total mental and physical breakdown of your good self in no more than 2-3 hours.

Secondly, we guarantee that the effect is permanent ... no unpleasant 'popping back' to your old annoyingly buoyant self after a month or two. Our secret toto lobo treatment is administered privately, quickly and humanely on live TV by an army of ten-year-old children and animals. This is inevitably followed by a long, painful and very public period of deep depression and humiliation, making it extremely unlikely that you would ever return to your previous state.

Thirdly, due to the methods used, which, for obvious reasons we can't reveal in case you should decide to publish this letter before completing your treatment, our development reduction courses are extremely effective on performing classical musicians and mothers of children under twelve!

Lastly, these popular courses are very expensive. (Indeed, for a half day course, our tutors are amongst the most highly paid and least skilled brain surgeons in the world.) Relieving you of large sums of money and particular sections of your brain are both integral parts of our tried and tested Negative Self-Development (TM) process.

Should you wish to sample one of these courses, just wait for our next newsletter, which will contain full details, and -- due to our amazing efficiency -- you're already on the mailing list!

Let's end on a more positive note, though. Just in case you haven't heard the news, my company has recently acquired the rights to ... yes, you guessed it! ... Music & Vision Magazine!!! There will obviously have to be changes in various areas, but we'll write to you with more details after you've taken the obligatory Personal Deflation (TM) course!

Yours most sincerely and faithfully,
on this American-in-dependence Day 2008,

Hal Obama
Bramich Thompson Persuasive Publishing Inc
Unit 1A
Bathyscape Estate
Hundred Fathom Road
Mid-Atlantic Ridge
North Atlantic Ocean
'NA0 1AA
(personal callers welcome!)

Ask Alice

? ' When confronted by the background to today's edition, my initial thoughts were that it was rather too early to celebrate Elliott Carter's centenary, but I soon realised, of course, that it is in fact in honour of his late wife's birthday! Silly me!
Alistair Hinton

Copyright © 4 July 2008 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

Ask Alice



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