Saturday, April 11, 2015

A flute or sinking

I had a most exciting Friday. First, I rose unexpectedly early despite the alarm clock being switched off, and headed downstairs to the health club for my weekly weigh-in on their hyper-accurate scales. Oh curses and buggeration! Up two kilogrammes. Then I grabbed some semi-skimmed milk from the Kwik-E-Mart and went back to my concrete cube in the sky to cook breakfast.

It’s futile going out on Friday morning in Doha because almost everything is shut, so I had a quick surf of the internet to see if I could find what size ball bearings I would need to upgrade the gearshift on my motorbike from the rather crappy nylon bushing provided by Mr Kawasaki in a cost-cutting exercise. Apparently I need several 8x14x4 caged ball bearings, one 8x1.25x40  bolt, plus a couple of washers, and these - or at least the bearings - should be easily obtainable from an emporium of radio-controlled models. 

It’s a mile to Doha City Centre mall, so I walked. The model shop was as shut as a miser’s wallet, even though the mall was teeming with eaters of fried junk food and purchasers of shoes, these being the products on sale in about 90% of the shops. My guess is that the model shop is shut on Fridays while the proprietor goes out and flies his R/C aircraft. There was nothing worth watching on offer at the Cineplex, so I walked back to my concrete cube.

I went back to the model shop on Saturday afternoon when by some miracle it was open, to be assured that “We sell spare parts” as per the Facebook page actually means “We do not sell spare parts.” But I digress.

I picked up my tenor recorder later on Friday afternoon and spent an hour or two practising, mostly from memory, and also playing by ear along with pre-recorded tunes and professional performances on YouTube. My eclectic repertoire ranges from J. S. Bach, through J. P. Sousa to Henry Mancini, John Williams, Barry Gray, and Iron Maiden. I think playing heavy metal on an acoustic wind instrument is more than a little subversive. Unfortunately, I can only do the melody; chords are beyond the recorder’s scope, and certainly beyond mine. As it is, I mess with the key signatures these things are written in in order to get them into something that’s playable on a recorder with my limited digital dexterity. 

But Aces High, played in 3/4 time on a tenor recorder, sounds amusingly like some ancient English folk tune. This may be coincidence. I suspect that Pirates of the Caribbean and Gladiator both sounding like Packington’s Pound is not a coincidence.

As the fingering of a recorder and an EWI are almost the same, anything in the above list I can theoretically play on my electric wind instrument. I say theoretically, because the EWI requires absolutely accurate fingering, and you can’t bend a wrong note by half uncovering a hole. It’s all or nothing. As far as I know, the concrete cube next door is currently unoccupied. Nobody has complained about the noise yet.

I am under no illusions as to my true ability to play these instruments. It only takes being in the company of proper musicians (and that includes YouTube clips of EWI and recorder players) to expose me as the fraud I almost certainly am.

So, that was my weekend. I put some bread in the sandwich toaster for tea, chatted briefly with Beloved Wife on a flaky internet connection in Amman airport, and then retired to my bed in preparation of the next six days of consecutive frustration, starting at 0700 on Saturday. 


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