He can play Richard Strauss on the trombone, but wishes he’d applied himself to more than retro-surf-bubblegum-pop.

I started learning the piano as a child but decided to give up because I didn’t warm to Miss Ford, the rather strict teacher. My father said: “You will regret this for the rest of your life.” He was, of course, right. Yes, I can play the piano a bit, I can get by on the guitar and once even mastered the opening of Also Sprach Zarathustraon trombone for a sketch about global warming (tenuous connection, don’t ask) but I bitterly regret not being able to read music at anything other than a snail’s pace or play a counter-rhythmic bass line with the left hand. I can play two-thirds of the C Major Prelude in Book One of The Well Tempered Clavierbut inevitably grind to a halt, despite there being no sharps or flats.

At university, I was in a band called The Musical Flags, a beat outfit that played retro-surf-bubblegum-pop, a niche genre that played well to our lack of outstanding musical talent. I don’t think you can have more fun than playing in a band. Later, as an...

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