Uninformed Comment

Air on the G string

Posted in Humour, Personal by uninformedcomment on July 17, 2009
As heard on TV.  Countless times.

As heard on TV. Countless times.

You know Air On The G String, by J S Bach.  There’s no question mark there, because you do know it, even if the title isn’t familiar.  It’s been used in adverts (most notably in the UK, the 1970s ads for Hamlet cigars, which uses Jacques Loussier’s piano version); it’s been used in hotel lobbies and office-block lifts; it’s been played as switchboard hold music to keep you calm … yes, you know it all right.  It’s the one that isn’t Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

And I love it.

Yes, I admit – overplayed it may be, but I’m still a sucker for its saccharine sounds, especially when it’s played by a small string ensemble.

Mundane, pointless anecdote follows:

A couple of weeks ago, I was with my ex-wife and our daughter, and we were walking around their neighbourhood going into people’s gardens and noseying around.  Lest that sounds illegal, I’ll add that the petunia-pointing and gazebo-gazing is part of an organised event  running over two weekends each summer, when participating, proud amateur gardeners and landscapers in the area throw open their gates and welcome all comers to admire the (sometimes literal) fruits of their labours.  Since the neighbourhood is full of large Victorian houses with spacious and mature gardens, it’s actually pretty interesting at times, which is why I tagged along.  I like a nice water feature as much as the next man.

One such place sold food for charity – rather wonderful Indian food, in fact; the house-owner used to own a very good local Indian restaurant – and so we bought various dishes and sat down on a bench to eat.  From next door, a recording of the sumptuous strains of Bach’s famous melody started playing, then abruptly stopped.  It started again, then stopped again.  And again.  In fact, it was pretty annoying, rather than being a relaxing accompaniment to the sunshine and samosas.  After a while, to my relief, it stopped altogether.

A couple of hours later, we arrived, feet aching and eyes green, back at my ex’s house, to find that our 16-year-old son had made a mistake.  He’d still been in bed when we’d left around 2pm, and had refused to stir when my ex tried to wake him, so she’d left him a note asking him to put a gammon joint in the oven for their dinner that night.  He’d eventually woken up, past 3pm, read the note, and taken a leg of lamb out of the freezer and put it, uncovered, in the oven at gas mark 6.   He didn’t know the difference between a small gammon joint and a whole leg of lamb, apparently.  Needless to say, the leg of lamb was rescued, but not before being somewhat singed on the outside while still frozen solid within.

He claimed having tried to call his mother for instructions, but her phone had been switched off.  He’d also called me, but I’d not heard anything, though my mobile did show an attempted call at 3:20pm.  I was surprised I’d not heard it ring, but maybe I’d left the ringer turned off in some public place- I almost never get calls to my mobile, so it could be months before I’d notice.

Several days later, at home, I decided to check the ringing volume on the phone, and called it from my landline.  The swelling strains of Bach’s Air On The G String filled my jacket pocket, and stopped.  And started again with the next ring.  And stopped.  And started …

I told you I liked that tune.  Liked it so much, in fact, that I’d set it as a ringtone many months ago when I first got the phone – and forgot all about it.

I offer this anecdote to anyone of my acquaintance as proof that any resemblence between me and an intelligent human being is purely coincidental, so please stop making that mistake.  I’ll try too.  And, in my defence, I’ll point out that neither my ex nor my daughter had realised either that it was my Nokia, not some thoughtless neighbour, serenading the shami kebabs that sunny day.

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3 Responses

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  1. Greg Goss said, on July 20, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I call “challenge”. There wasn’t enough in the cited ad to recognize anything, so I went googling for it. I found the Sarah Chang version. Bits of it were almost famiar, but each time I started following along, it diverged. I suspect that I was just recognizing the category “sonata” or some such.

    • uninformedcomment said, on July 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm

      Hmm. I’m afraid I must challenge your challenge. While Ms Chang may have played it on some versions of the ads – I don’t know – the canonical version was most definitely by Jacques Loussier, arranged for piano and double bass.

  2. Paul Madarasz said, on December 20, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    When my ex, Judith, used to dance, she often wore a g-string. And, believe it or not, there was air on it.


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