The two great regrets of middle age are: ‘I never learnt a language’ and ‘I never learnt an instrument’. One of my regrets is that, because I was a happy-go-lucky sort of chap at school, my music teachers kept giving me heavier and heavier cases to carry.
They started me on the trumpet. That was fine; I could hide away in the brass section and camouflage my errors among the better players. But then they moved me to the euphonium. ‘We need one of those, Newton. Get practising.’ I could just about cope with the euphonium. But then came the final call. Your school needs you. The orchestra expects. ‘We need a tuba, and you’re the man!’
I was suddenly armed and dangerous. As the only tuba player in the wind band, any error I committed was both prominent and unmissable.