Music and Vision homepage


Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

A Christmas message from
Classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Ask Alice

? 'Dear Alice,

I dunno why this is, but I feel myself running a bit short of the old festive spirit at the moment.

Is it the dregs of the snow? Is it the lousy London traffic? Is it the number of Christmas cards I get from people I've never sent cards to before and have no intention of starting to now? Or is it the fact that my six-member family -- dearly as I love them -- are getting on my nerves already, and it it's only the 22nd?


' Pat

Ask Alice

Alice Dear Pat (Patrick? Patricia? I'm betting on the former, as the latter would surely have mentioned ye Christmas dinner ... or maybe not, these days ...)

Basically I think it has been a bum year, in lots of ways, for lots of people, as well as one in which I personally lost a mother-in-law and a dog. Also the early closing in of nightfall -- around half-past two, seems like -- (all the bloody Scots' fault) and the foul traffic and the usual seasonal stresses (what the hell can I give my eighteen-year-old niece??!!!) are obvious. Of course, it'll get better (Christmas Day) and worse again (afterwards, when people really do start getting jumpy with their loved ones, and stir-crazy from not having enough to do. If I had a snappy answer to your question, I wouldn't be a jobbing writer but instead a loaded genius in a mansion looking smugly down at everybody else, having sold the film rights to my mega-bestseller 'Christmas: sorted!!!!' to the highest bidder.

As it is, however, all I can recommend is my personal solution: When the going gets tough, swipe an Inderal. These little pink wonder-pills, otherwise known as beta-blockers, are readily available from your doctor -- if you're a musician you'll doubtless have a few around anyway, for those times when you were booked as number three but number one got a better offer that morning and number two is down with flu and you are In Deep Schtook if you have to play even the little cello solo in Enigma unless given some kind of preparation period.

Not only that but they're legal, free, unfattening and you can drive under their influence!!! What could be jollier or more useful??!!!

Also, you do not need to go mad (as I once did, when I was auditioning for a principal cello job once and they got hours behind so I rashly took double my audition dose of 30mg and almost collapsed on the floor). No!!! Do not do this!!!!!!!

Especially since a single titchy 10 mg pill alone is capable of:

  1. preventing you from beaning your aged aunt on the head when she 'assumes you've had lots of fascinating playing work this year.'
  2. permitting you to tolerantly view the efforts of your drivelling cousin Sybil to remember the joke that was so amusing last year ...
  3. stopping you from getting annoyed at your dog, when he hovers underfoot at the first imagined whisper of turkey and stuffing
  4. allowing you to remember through gritted teeth, that, when you were a kid, you were undoubtedly wildly and ear-splittingly thrilled by presents as well

Not to mention preventing indigestion, hernias, and that funny ache in your calf that kicks in after more than seventy minutes of tennis.

So ... what are you waiting for? Mush!!!! There's still time to ... There is still ... hang on, there are no more shopping days till Christmas. Bummer.

Instead your doctor is at home with his feet up, attempting to loosen his hardened arteries by lubricating them with malt whisky.
While you, matey, are in deep trouble.

OK, this much I can do. If you live in south London, give me a yell, as I have a modest stock of, say, roughly 4000-4500 little pink wonder-workers. (I never believe in taking chances.)

And if not, good luck and, uh, Happy Christmas!!!!

PS Or, if in America, Merry Christmas. Don't know why, but there you go. And now, if you'll excuse me, I feel a little pink pill coming on.

Copyright © 25 December 2009 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

Ask Alice

A very Merry Christmas to all our readers, from Basil Ramsey and his team at Music and Vision




 << M&V home              Alice's previous columns >>