On Whistling

Whistling is surely one of the neglected bonus features of the human being. If Q was explaining the capacities and functions of a human to Mr James Bond, surely the capacity to whistle would raise a suave, curious eyebrow. Yet once the lofty aspiration to whistle is mastered by the child, after some frustration and dribbling, most of us sadly take this inbuilt instrument for granted.

I like the humble, cheerful and whimsical associations with whistling. For some reason I think of old irish men who drink whisky and waddle home – while whistling – to disapproving and bearded wives. Hearing people whistle instantly makes me feel happier inside. However, I do wonder whether the emotional range of whistling has been fully explored and appreciated. I for one would be interested in attending a concert, perhaps at the Palais Garnier in Paris, where men in tuxedoes explore the heights and depths of human emotion and express the nuances and subtleties of human existence – through whistling.

It is possible that a proposition for such an event was vitoed due to health and safety precautions – as, according to the Koreans, Japanese and some in the South of India, whistling attracts snakes. Whistling is also believed to bring bad luck by stage performers, and Hawaiians. More pertinent to myself -and here we come to the crux of it – the Russians and Serbs believe that whistling brings about poverty. Little did I know this seemingly most innocuous of human practices could be so effective in bringing about the absence of the prosperity I anticipated as a frustrated, dribbling child.

However on the upside, sailors believe that whistling encourages the wind to blow, and this perhaps might explain the number of opportunities I have had to travel throughout my life. So, recklessly, I will continue to whistle – I am poor but on the move, I am like Bob Dylan in the old days, I am a rolling stone that gathers no moss, I am blowing in the wind! … and I’m broke.


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