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Ostomy Memories Whistling


The fact that my whistling annoys my spouse dismays me. It is a benign little trick that I picked up from my step-father when I was in high school, and I have whistled happily ever since. Oldie Goldies, music from “West Side Story,” the wonderful score of “Porgy & Bess,” whatever enters my head, really, and I'm whistling like a mockingbird. It is my instrument, a proxy for the violin or oboe that I wish I could play. I have always marveled at all those individual instrumentalists in an orchestra coming together to produce a complicated piece of music. One day I was in a small town library. It was one large room and their musical collection was over in a corner. It was not walled off. If you wanted to listen to any of the records in the collection, there were earphones to put on. I was listening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which the great composer wrote and conducted while deaf. It is one of the most stirring, life-affirming scores ever composed. Suddenly, during the final movement, I noticed a librarian storming across the floor toward me, his lips pulled back in a sneer, his eyes radiating anger. What the hell's going on? I thought. I found myself thrown out of the library, other patrons all leveling me with dirty looks. Without realizing it, I had been loudly whistling the famous Ode to Joy.

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Hello HenryM. 

There used to be so many entertainers who used whistling in their performances and I do occasonally miss that form of music. However, it is not to everybody's taste and I can recall when we lived next to a veterinary surgery and one of the vets would whistle when he came to the surgery late at night/ early mornings. It turned out that he would whistle as a (fear) response to the loneliness, isolation and potential vulnerability around the back of the premises when he was on his own. It was his way of letting us (and potential attackers) know that he was there. We used to smile about it and suggest that he whistle to the tune of 'Whistle a happy tune' - as that is what the song was all about. 

NB: I also miss the mouth organ/harmonica, which was also popular at about the same time as whistling. 

Best wishes



That's an amazing talent, Henry. All I can blow are wolf whistles! I flew fequently when I was a youngster, mostly short-haul flights and always like a tune they played when the aircraft was readied for take-off, but didn't know what it was. Later on I learned it was I Whistle a Happy Tune........ what an appropriate number to play at that moment!


I like the harmonica too, Bill, esp. when it is played by Bob Dylan, a blues riff, or the way Ennio Moricone used it in his spaghetti westerns. 


I like to whistle when I am in the kitchen cooking don't like for it to be so quiet. Sometimes I just sing a song. My grandpa told me one time that a whistling woman and a crowing hen would come to a no good end. Have you heard of that expression  .


I've never heard that one before, but I see nothing wrong with a whistling woman.  Good for you.


Hi Henry,  Well, I'm afraid I'm with your wife on this one!  His incessant whistling was one of the main reasons I broke up with an old boyfriend.  It drove me nuts!  Mind you, his whistling had no discernible tune, and whatever key he was going for, he wasn't making it. Seriously though, whistling is a great talent and I've always wished I could do it, I think my mouth just wasn't constructed properly for it.  Your wife has nothing to complain about.  I am married to a professional musician and have spent the last 35 years listening to him practice in his not very well sound-proofed studio.  The same tune or line from a tune, over and over and over...well you get the picture. Sometimes I wish I could whistle to drown him out.



What instrument does your husband play?


Back in the old days it had a lot of different suspicion about it. Some was that it was manley and a lady should not do it.Some thought it brought bad luck. A hen crowing meant it was not good and should be killed. Looking some of this up I nwas surprised how many old saying and things people believed


His main instruments are bass guitar and voice but he also plays drums.  He's one of those lucky souls who loves what he does and won't retire until he is forced to, he just loves to play.


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