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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

On viola pegs and swine flu,
with classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

? 'Hi, Al -- I can't remember what to use on a viola peg that keeps slipping (a friend in the same orch is having this problem). I remember using baby powder if a peg is sticking, but wasn't there something else we used on the opposite problem?
your sister, Kathy

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Alice Hi Kath

The stuff your friend wants is Hill peg paste (or any peg paste, I guess!) This is a brownish, gunky paste, which gives the will to live back to almost any violin peg. You can get it for about a fiver over here, don't know about in the States.

This can be however only a temporarily solution, as you well know. Once a peg has started slipping it will probably need professional adjustment, or even replacement, as pegs don't last forever and, in time, just smooth themselves out.


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? 'Dear Alice,

Do I have swine flu? I feel terrible, and not like eating, but I can keep food down. I wake up feeling horrible, recover and feel more hopeful around midday, and then quietly collapse throughout the afternoon. Worst of all, I go the bed just after coming home from work, and nap a little, after which I can't sleep in the middle of the night.

But swine flu has to be more dramatic than this, right?
P B, Orpington

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Alice Dear P,

I don't know. You want to check out the sites where swine flu experts hang out.

All I know is that your sad tale has touched a definite chord, as I too wake up feeling lousy, decide that I'll live around noon, and deteriorate thereafter. Still worse, I have it on good authority (various mothers and daughters at local London schools) that this can last up to three weeks, which is approximately two-and-a-half weeks longer than I wish to live.

So this is my question to you: what was Michael Jackson's pet doctor's name again?

Yours, sinking fast,

Ask Alice

? 'Having just returned from playing a concert in France, I am surprised your French correspondent arrived at the Prom early enough to form any view on the sound quality. Surely he wandered in noisly at around 9:15pm having missed the first half and interval?

I say this having returned from playing in France where the concert, advertised to start at 9pm barely emerged from the womb by 9:15pm.

My theory is that it is down to French cuisine and beer.

The order of an evening of music is as follows:

1. Dinner
2. Music
3. Beer

In England we have a light dinner which ends at around 6:30pm and we enter the concert hall at 7pm for a 7:30pm start. The concert has the good grace to shut the **** up by about 9:30pm whereupon there is a good 2 hours drinking time left.

In France, the food is so tough that a normal set of molars struggles to chew through the average meal in less than three hours which means the concert starts at 9:15pm. The music is much the same as in England, other than the fact that it is played a notch up on tempo in order to bring the end of the concert nearer. Afterwards, the French retire to a bar (at about 11pm) whereupon they order a beer -- discover it tastes like urine, and sod off to bed.

So, my little French cousins: Learn to cook and brew some beer which doesn't taste like it's just exited a camel's urinary tract and you may enjoy music more and not feel compelled to talk through it!

Your views McVeigh?
Gloria Stoatgobbler

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Alice Hi Gloria,

If you think that's tough, try touring Spain, where the punters consider the evening ill-spent if the concert slips the leash by ten.

It is extraordinarily difficult for the average orchestra player to maintain his/her normally high standards of alertness when the symphony doesn't even get weaving until 11pm.

PS Aren't you -- er -- a little tough on French food???!!!!!!

Copyright © 7 August 2009 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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