surinenglish

THE MUSIC MAKER

Complimentary medicine

Once upon a time, you dressed so fine...' (My concerts always began with Like A Rolling Stone in those days).

I looked out into the audience to get a feel of the place and immediately spotted a man at the table nearest the stage reading a newspaper and supping a pint, which was a bit strange but, frankly, I'd seen stranger over the years. The concert continued and eventually reached a crescendo. It had been a good one - by the end the whole room, including bar staff, were singing and clapping along. Meanwhile Newspaper Man had progressed to the cryptic crossword, having not looked up once during the ninety minute set. How very odd. Even odder, though, was what happened next.

"Great gig, mate. It's a long time since I enjoyed a concert that much," he smiled, thrusting his opened hand towards me.

"Er, glad you had a good time. I think seven across might be 'apple tree'," I mumbled. Ok, not the last bit but, really, it was quite the weirdest thing I'd seen in a long time.

The reason for availing you of this quirky tale is to offer an illustration of the wide-ranging reactions a live performance can provoke. I've had people sing, dance, cry, laugh (and not in a good way), grab the microphone, fall to their knees in prayer (no, really), fight and faint. The true list is much longer but they're just a few highlights. You kind of get used to expecting the unexpected.

What I've never quite got used to, though, is the everyday compliment. Well, if someone says they liked the concert, that's ok, in fact very nice of them and I'll always reply with a standard but sincere , "Thank you, that's very kind of you." The problem is when somebody compliments my voice; it feels odd to even say thank you (although I always do) because the larynx we're blessed with is of absolutely no personal merit whatsoever. I was born like that, just as I was born ginger.

"I love your carroty red hair," nobody ever said when I was a child but it would be the same principle if they had.

Similarly if you tell a beautiful woman she's, well, beautiful, how does she feel? It's not the same as complimenting her on an achievement of hers, is it?

No, it would be better if we praised each other only for what we'd actually worked for, rather than any God given gifts. In the end, it's not our beautiful hands that need complimenting, but rather what we manage to build with them.