Some remarks that I made on the BBC’s PM slot provoked a flood of responses to the Feedback programme, demanding my head on a pike. Since they all came from people who played the accordion, I felt pretty safe – and here’s why.
What I said was that the accordion is a bit of a joke because it can make some of ‘the most poisonous noises’ to be heard on any instrument.
I added – and this bit was cut out – that I would not dare to make that comment about any other instrument, including the thereminovox, because the players would get up and biff me one. With the accordion there is no risk of violent retaliation since the poor players have a suitcase strapped to their front and their arms are trussed up in straps.
That said – and this was included – the accordion has a huge social and political significance in certain places and times. I cited France in the 1940s and 1950s and the Soviet Bloc from the 1970s on. In such places, the apparently harmless accordionist could slip under the political radar and convey subversive messages deep into the heart of society. Could this be why the accordion is enjoying renewed popularity in the UK?