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The Spin Quartet

After the fable ‘Quartet’, by I.A. Krylov

A monkey, a donkey, a bear and a goat
Decided to corner the cultural vote
By forming a string-quartet. “Hurry”, called Bear,
“Forward, not back!”. So each beast grabbed a chair,
Two fiddles, viola - and what’s this big fellow
Bear’s dragging along? Well, he calls it a cello
Though everyone knows it’s a bass. Never mind.
The spinning’s beginning. And how the bows grind
As they torture the strings and the musical laws.
There’s a thudding of hooves and a prattling of paws,
There’s a bong and a ping and a plonk and a plink.
“Stop, lads”, Monkey shouts, “You’re not playing in sync.
Our seating-plan’s wrong. You change places with me,
Mr Goat. Second Fiddle, you sit by that tree.
Now come on musicians, and stop the damn bleating.
You can’t make sweet sounds if you’ve mucked up the seating”.
The players change places and strike up again.
It sounds even worse. This Quartet’s such a pain
In the ass, even Jack (who’s tone deaf) begins braying:
“Sit side by side, boys. That’s the trick of fine playing”.
They formed a neat row. Then they perched back to back.
They played musical chairs, but they still sensed a lack
Of harmonious sounds. What on earth had they missed?
A nightingale twittered, “You’re all Brahms and Liszt!”
“We’re doing our best, but our seating-plan’s wrong”,
The animals told the First Lady of Song.
“We should have consulted with expert advisors,
Professionals like you. Go ahead, criticise us”.
“If you want to play music, be musically skilled,
And talent’s quite useful”, Dame Nightingale trilled.
“It isn’t a matter of changing your seats
but practising scales, learning chords, counting beats.
Commitment and knowledge and work make musicians” –
A lesson for Bear, and for all politicians.
Re-shuffling the cabinet and changing direction
May get you cheap headlines, but not re-election.

Carol Rumens

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