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European Union Jokes

Friday 16 April 2004

The latest joke in Brussels isn’t really a joke. The latest directive emanating from "Health & Safety" is about the safety of string players in orchestras around Europe. As a consequence of two anecdotal accidents, a delirious panic has emerged. The EU is asking for regulations imposing violin players to wear lab goggles to prevent loosing an eye by a vicious attack by a neighbouring bow or a broken string. They will have to play in an "exclusion zone" of 4 square meters (5m2 in 2008). Cellists and double bass players will have to equip themselves with a protection for their peaks since there is a trend of serial killers in category of musicians.

There is a frightening evolution towards securing and regulating every tiny aspect of our lives. Bringing in the norm in such a fashion is truly restrictive. Small initiatives are crushed and declared illegal, simply because they cannot respect the restrictions. In this case, will orchestras have to decrease the number of string players to be able to play in small venues? Will they stop going to small venues?

At least some musicians are taking it with a pinch of humour. A famous violinist was heard saying : "Anyone in an orchestra knows that its the brass and percussion people that are the real hooligans." At last classical music will make its way into gossip magazines by staging cantona-style fights.

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Arthur Lutz

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