For the past 20 years the answer to this most quoted question to harpists has always been a polite chuckle.
But with my local petrol station now selling fuel at 135.9 pence per litre, perhaps it's time to rethink my usual answer to that "piccolo" question with a "yes".
I'm based in the North West UK, but am currently doing a couple of days work in Scotland. The very nature of my work takes in a wide geographical area and I rely on my gas guzzling volvo estate car to travel around the country.
Without my car, I cannot transport my harp. Without my harp, I cannot work.
Before that other old chestnut saying trips off the tongue - "Why don't you get a proper job..." I (like every other professional musician) am highly trained and skilled and, in my case, have been doing this as my job for twenty years. It is not a hobby, it's what pays the mortgage and feeds and clothes my kids.
It would be nice (in theory) to swap the harp for a piccolo, which you could pop in your pocket and just jump on a train after a gig, somehow avoiding the crippling cost of petrol which now is barely covered by the fees for the work you have just done.
Except of course, unless you live in London, there are no trains that run across the rest of country late at night when the majority of gigs finish.
So in answer to the "piccolo" question, it would still be a "no".
I do however really wish I could afford to replace my gas guzzling volvo estate with a new fuel-economic hybrid estate car. Except of course I can't afford a new car.
Maybe I should prop up the economy and buy one on credit?
This blog was inspired by listening to some idiot economist on Radio 4 actually arguing for an increase in petrol prices as it was a "fair tax" that would only affect "rich people who drove gas guzzling cars when they could be using the bus".
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Lauren Scott is a harpist & composer and has been blogging for over 10 years.
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