I received a text from my son Michael the other day. He was trying to connect me with a friend of his who has a friend who has a whistle for sale. He suggested that although my latent affliction, WAD (Whistle Acquisition Disorder) appeared to be in remission, perhaps it could be activated. I expressed a guarded interest – sometimes you don’t want to go back there, right? – and then since I was on the road anyway, I got thinking…
The object in question is a high end pennywhistle. For those of you who are not familiar with these instruments, they can be described as deceptively simple 6 hole tubes with mouthpieces for blowing into. They can be played at any level, from basic to full on band work. (Think The Chieftains, Riverdance, Theme from The Titanic.) Whistles have been a key component of Irish music for a long time, but these days you can hear them in every genre, from rock to country music to new age. It’s possible to buy a basic Clarke whistle for under twenty dollars. I have a few of those. It’s also possible to spend several hundred dollars on one, and I have a couple of those too. They are available in every key, and vary in length from pencil-sized to wrapping paper tube size. Although I own more than a dozen whistles, as a player I’m much closer to the basic end of the continuum. Whatever. This is all in the past, relevant to my WAD days, which I have left behind me. More or less.
You may think that such addictions are rare, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only sufferer. A friend of mine (you know who you are) has struggled for years with BAD, which can be variously (and accurately) translated to “Bodhran Acquisition Disorder” or “Bicycle Acquisition Disorder”. I see signs that he is at last escaping the clutches of the former, but as often happens, there are signs of a substitute addiction, in his case GAD (Guitar Affliction Disorder). Another friend (you know who you are too) appears cured, more or less, and is divesting himself of most of his musical gear, keeping only what he uses regularly. I admire him so much for recognizing that he had a problem, and then going about resolving it.
It’s time for some honest self appraisal. First, it’s important to acknowledge that I never progressed to WOAD (Whistle Obsessive Acquisition Disorder), which might have been quite serious. Imagine a home full of hoarded pennywhistles. But as much as I would like think I’ve left WAD behind, it is possible that the disorder has expanded into a broader dysfunction. Perhaps you have heard of MEAD (Musical Equipment Acquisition Disorder)? Some people might refer to rather disparagingly as GAD – Gadget Acquisition Disorder – but that acronym is already in use (see paragraph above). Being under the influence of MEAD would explain why I have acquired three guitars, a dulcimer, a bouzouki, an octave mandolin, five tuners, two amplifiers and a full PA system, several effects pedals, a rat’s nest of instrument cables and power cords, four harmonicas and two different types of holders, a plastic egg shaker, and a metronome, not to mention the whistles. You get the picture.
Well, IF in fact I have MEAD – and I do say IF – as addictions go, it’s is relatively harmless addiction. I’m not harming anyone else, other than the occasional assault on their ears. I don’t HAVE to buy music equipment. In fact, I can quit any time I want. And over the years I’ve sold quite a few items, some of them even at a profit. It’s just that I like to surround myself with…musical…things.
Well, time to wrap this up. I have to go out and look at condenser microphones…and there’s a chance that the penny whistle owned by a friend of Mike’s friend might still be available.