Good Afternoon. Would This Be The Proctology Tent?

I am writing this from the north eastern English city of Durham, home to a cathedral, a sitting Prime-Minister and my old cinema buddy AP.

I spent the week at a work training conference where I was mostly bored or frustrated and so its great to see AP and her new life in the surprisingly beautiful university town of Durham, even if it is in the godless hellhole that is England, (thanks be to God and Mary for the Irish heroes, De Valera, Padraig Pearse and Ronan Keating).

When I get back to Ireland I think I am going to kiss each member of my work team. These trips to the English guys make me appreciate them so very much. Its not that I have an issue with the people I spent the week with at all. Rather, their approach leaves me totally cold. Everything seems to revolve around doctrine and ideas instead of real world loving people. In the 4 days we spent about half the time on doctrinal issues and had an hour on pastoral care and an hour on discipleship. Even those seminars were fairly doctrine-laden. Argh! Doctrine can become an idol! And I guess I would just like a little more informality and a little more reflection and a little less talk about “distinctives of the organisation”.

Did you ever see the movie Brassed Off? I didn’t either. I just saw a poster for it in the German class in my secondary school because my German department wasn’t quite as on-topic as you would expect, considering the nation they studied. Anyway, I spent this morning with the 30th greatest brass band in the world. They are conducted by a man who makes me think that David Brent’s brother went into the army and learnt how to conduct music. This is a weird British phenomenon, brass banding, but it is surprisingly good. What I learnt today was that one quick way to make brass banding better would be too put more sequins or rhinestones on the uniforms. Jazz up the suits a little and stick the girls in short skirts and you’d have the next hipster craze. At the moment they are just weird railway staff outfits although even the abysmal British rail system hasn’t been bought out in some region by DavidLynch Mainline, which is the only rail company that would maybe have trombone playing ticket inspectors.

Speaking of trombone players, they are the scum of the earth. They are hated in the brass band world. They are a leaking vial of urine sampled from a syphilitic prostitute. I mean I can’t get across to you how much the trombone players are hated. “Carnies! That is all they are Zoomy!”

The trombone players turn up with their flys undone (is it flys or flies? Answers in comments, please) and their shirts sticking out where the zip should be. That is if they are wearing shirts of course, since mostly their sartorial statement begins explosively with an English soccer jersey and ends with breath-taking aplomb in the form of a Mirror or Sun under their arm.

This of course makes it sound like the trombone players are bad because they are working class which wouldn’t be at all true. Brass bands might sound a bit poncey to you but in reality they are well ‘ard in a mining town kind of way. The trombone players are hated because they turn up late and hit bum notes that sound like elephants farting far too often and then they blame other people when something called “being out of balance” happens to the band and they are daily a little bit on the drunk side of tipsy, but not in the adorable way my wife is.

So beware of the trombonists.

Brass bands have people of all ages in them and they have big gongs and xylophones and some pieces have flugel duets which are actually quite exciting. So except for Major David Brent II and the trombonists and the rehearsal hall in the industrial estate (I am morally opposed to industrial estates and their ugliness), losing my brass band virginity didn’t hurt at all.

There is one thing I have to point out though before we leave this topic. Brassed Off is a brass band travesty. You could never go to London and win a big tournament by playing something so passé as the William Tell overture and I know this because the cornet player in the 30th best brass band in the world told me. So don’t rent out Brassed Off on the back of this short tour through the garden of metal music delight that I have taken you on. Instead buy a trumpet and learn how to play “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” on it because the chicks would dig that.

Or at least I would dig it if I were a chick.

Your Correspondent, Takes Every Sentence As A Pretext For Sex

One Response to “Good Afternoon. Would This Be The Proctology Tent?”

  1. adrian says:

    In the family of trumpets and trombones, a further factor comes into play which is responsible for a dramatic increase in brightness of timbre in very loud playing. The adjectives frequently used to describe this tone quality – ‘gbrassy’ or ‘metallic’ (cuivré in French) – reflect a common misconception that the effect arises from vibration of the metal bell of the instrument. In 1996 Hirschberg and his co-workers showed that the cause is in fact the development of shock waves in the cylindrical section of the air column. At the point in the vibration cycle at which the player’s lips open, a large pressure jump is created in the mouthpiece. This pressure rise becomes steeper and steeper as it travels down the tube; by the time it reaches the bell it has become an extremely short and powerful pulse. The form of this shock wave is similar to that created by the passage of a supersonic aircraft, and the sound of a fortissimo g’ on a trombone has been graphically described as ‘four hundred sonic bangs per second’ (Gilbert and Petiot, 1997).

    © Oxford University Press 2004