A new danger to playing the tin-whistle. Warning. Involves spiders. And this very whistle.

A few years ago I wrote the following letter to the editor of Chiff and Fipple, a site devoted to tin/penny whistle aficionados.

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I thought you might be interested in a new danger I discovered while whistling in traffic the other day. (Whistling in traffic is an old danger). I keep a Clarke whistle in the car’s sun visor, and have a habit of pulling it out a red lights or traffic jams–I usually manage to put it back before starting up again. (The Clarke whistle is really good for this, because it’s tapered, it’s much easier to slide into the visor’s pocket very quickly when the light changes.) So last week I’m sitting in traffic, and there’s a tune on the CD player I really want to try playing along with, so I pull down the whistle and start to play. All that comes out are squeaks.

“How odd,” I think. Moisture seems unlikely, but I give it a big blow anyway. No difference. I turn the whisle around and blow the other way. Still no difference. So I’m sitting there staring at the finger holes, when I see a little ball roll by. I have a moment to wonder how (and why) one of my daughters had managed to stick a ball in a whistle that tapers down at the end, when I noticed that the ball had legs–lots of them.

The next few moments were not pretty. There was a lot of yelling, and waving the whistle violently out of the window, and my daughter in the back seat was extremely confused. It didn’t help that the light changed to green just about then as well. All I could think was how normally I suck to clear moisture.

When I got back home, there was no sign of the spider, but the web still remains. It’s a tough little thing, and I need to find a stick small and long enough to clear it out.

So next time you pull that whistle out of anything other than a whistle bag–check it first!

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