Alison Balsom, British Airways and The Telegraph

Yesterday, trumpeter Alison Balsom tweeted British Airways about a customer service issue.

Specifically about the additional charges the increasingly budget airline is imposing on professional musicians who carry their musical instruments as cabin baggage on flights.

In a story written by Robert Mendick for the Telegraph, Alison is referred to as ‘the crumpet with the trumpet’ both in the copy and the headline.

I know. The story included that descriptor in quotes. He also explained that Alison was “dubbed” ‘the crumpet with the trumpet’ (a search on the internet reveals the reference in a Times story from 2013 in which Alison takes the credit for coining it). So that makes it OK, doesn’t it? It’s not him giving her that label, its him reporting what others have quoted her. The question remains, why for the love of cocking God is it relevant to the story?

Here’s a hunch. The Telegraph has an underlying agenda against women. That’s why Ivan Hewitt’s gleeful interview with conductor Mariss Jansons a few weeks back didn’t include a challenge to an outdated and irrelevant view about women on the podium.

And that agenda is also why it appears perfectly acceptable to the journalist and his sub-editor (assuming they’re not the same person) to not only include in the copy an irrelevant reference about Alison as a successful female classical musician, but to include it in the headline too. Doing so not only illustrates disregard and disrespect for present-day concerns but also shows ignorance about the practical issues facing the classical music world.

There’s bitterness there too. Bucket loads. That’s why its apparently desperately important to include the name of the man Alison Balsom is married to. Who actually gives a fuck? Unless of course your assumption is that Alison waives her right to complain about the treatment of musicians simply because she’s married to a highly successful, highly regarded, well-known man.

I retweeted Balsom’s message yesterday afternoon, just like many other male musicians I know. The reason? Because Balsom’s message resonated with a great many people. She is regarded by a community of professional musicians as someone who could influence decision-making and help bring about change.

But the Telegraph won’t see that. Much easier, far more productive to be dismissive, reductive, and ignorant.

Of course, none of this would have been necessary (not the tweet, Mendick’s reductive reporting, nor this tiresomely angry blog post) had British Airways not been such bozos in the first place.

As the Brexit Clusterfuck nudges ever closer, musicians are going to rely increasingly on international travel to fly the flag for the country on the world stage.

It appears British Airways seems uninterested in shifting their stance. That only makes the future even grimmer for UK musicians.


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