Stupid instruments

Because I didn’t go all the way to Ecuador to find reasons to be rude about the US, let’s be rude about something Ecuadorian: pan pipes.

The fact that people can produce tunes with them at all is a minor triumph for human ingenuity, but let’s be honest, they’re a rubbish instrument. They make the penny whistle look nuanced and sophisticated. I feel rather the same way about steel bands: I don’t care how typically local and evocative they are, I don’t want to have to listen to them on holiday.

The steel band thing may be influenced by the fact that every Christmas on Oxford Street there are some annoying bastards playing fucking Christmas carols on the steel drums, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a tune played by a steel band that wouldn’t have sounded better on something else. Ditto pan pipes.

American oenophilia

Travelling in the Galapagos and Ecuador, obviously a large proportion of my shipmates and lodgemates were from the US. While I’m on the subject of transAtlantic foodiness: when did Americans all become such wine-buffs? I appreciate that the section of American society that turns up on Galapagos cruises and in Ecuadorian ecolodges is a fairly narrow one, but I still found it rather striking. None of them were capable of just quickly ordering a bottle of something; I haven’t heard so many discussions about grape varieties for years. And when the wine did come, they all had to express opinions about what it tasted like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of a nice glass of wine. I’d just rather drink it than talk about it.

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