I realise that in the past I may have been a little scathing about musicians. Indeed I might even have hinted that you can spend more time keeping them sober than it’s worth. To be fair I’ve worked with more than my fair share of musicians whose sole aim appeared to be to debauch the host’s husband/wife (or in extreme cases both simultaneously.) Then there are the sad occasions when you neglect to keep the virtuoso away from the free wine. Then your main objective is to get them back out into the street before they are copiously ill in the presence of expensive soft furnishings.
Still I feel I ought to redress the balance somewhat by paying an unreserved compliment to Madame Narasha. I have worked with her for a number of years. Indeed we worked together when she was Mistress Narasha. In fact her connection with our family was established many years before this as she is a childhood friend of Shena, my lady wife.
She is very accomplished on the double flute, and combines this with a rare sensitivity so that she can not only accompany poetry, but can even provide a witty counterpoint to stories. Unfortunately for her; beautiful and languidly elegant single ladies tend to find work hard to come by. A hostess will look askance at a husband who claims to have developed a yearning to listen to flute music, however beautifully played. Even the transition from ‘Mistress’ to ‘Madame’ (made without any change in marital status) had no real impact on this lamentable phenomenon. Still when she arrived in my company these trivial worries could be brushed aside, occasionally to the secret sadness of the husband.
Narasha had another important attribute. I could trust her and not merely in the minor things such as her staying sober. If I had to disappear off to another event I could rely on her to both collect the money. Not only that but she would also ensure that I got my fair share of both tips and those items that fall into the category of miscellaneous catering surplus.
Even more importantly I can trust her to watch my back. It is a sad commentary on modern morals that there are some ladies out there who cannot tell the difference between a poet and a gigolo. I have been the victim of approaches that ranged from the subtle through to the blatant, “Well nobody misses a slice from a cut loaf.” What might be regarded as an acceptable perk of the trade for some of our younger and more louche poets can be an embarrassing nuisance for those of us who cling happily to matrimony.
Luckily with Narasha in support I could dodge these awkward interviews. She had a keen eye and good hearing and could spot my predicament from the other side of the room. It was then that her virtuosity with the double flute came into its own. Without any change of tone or tempo, she could propel a dried pea with considerable velocity and incredible accuracy over a significant distance. Even the most wanton widow finds it well nigh impossible to maintain her lascivious advances as she attempts to bat away some biting insect from her neck or cheek.