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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

A mega problem with a minor orchestra,
solved by classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

? ' Saw you raving about Shropshire on Facebook. What's so hot about Shropshire hills, anyway? Aren't they just like the Malverns only nearer to Wales?

And, speaking of Wales, it's much wilder and more thrilling, right?

' G H

Ask Alice

Alice Dear, deluded, G H,

Well, OK, I grant you that Wales (north Wales, anyway) is much wilder and crazier than Shropshire.

In fact, I will even acknowledge that loads of places are: West Scotland, northern Burma, all of Africa.

In short, those looking for thrills would be better off elsewhere. But that's what's so brilliant about Shropshire: it's the best-kept secret. Protected on one side by the thrilling bit of Wales, and on the other by the lovely Malverns, without any mega-cities to attract the appalling masses, it is a little gem of sheer perfection: traffic-less, in some cases almost unpeopled, and yet hilly enough to be stunning in its own quiet way. It was noticeable, driving home, as we entered the Worcester area, how it felt like entering the real world: it was fascinating to note how over-touristed, almost over-prettified, the Cotswolds felt in comparison. You can feel more away from the world in Shropshire than you can in Crete -- and such rare peacefulness and understated beauty also attracts no one you would be afraid to get trapped talking to in any pub. That's why it's so special. But d'you mind keeping it to yourself?

If everybody knew about it, it would all be wrecked.

PS If you do go, Georgie, you must stay at Mynd House, in Little Stretton. They are typical Shropshirians: amazing breakfast providers, super-hospitable and with a lovely view over fields and hills.
PPS The diet starts here ...

? 'Hi Alice,

I have got a mega problem with a minor orchestra.
They have hired a new fixer and he's kicked out the tried-and-tested in favour of a lot of his friends and kids straight out of college.
I have NOT been fired yet, but I think the writing is on the wall.
Question: should I resign to make a point or hang in there?

Ask Alice

Alice Dear Anon,

Well, it's hardly a new problem, is it?

Fixers have been doing this since the year dot. In fact, I'm pretty sure that, if papyrus leaves could survive, they would in the Egyptian tombs discover the equivalent of: 'Bugger me, ye Queen Cleopatra's favourite servant has insinuated his friends into her good graces and soon I and my family will be heaving ye stones onto ye pyramids.'

Nobody can make this decision for you. Personally, I would resign, telling everybody that I was doing this as a protest against the injustices awarded to my mates (and not mentioning 'the writing on the wall'). But -- and follow me like a leopard here -- I don't make my living with the cello anymore. Only you can decide whether the amount of work this orchestra gives you is worth 'hanging in there' for. But you can expect to drift down the section, and that's always very bad for the digestive system as well ...


Copyright © 24 April 2009 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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