I have had a great day. When I was young I played music and a lot of it. I played the French horn. One day a family friend landed (as they say here) and said "Would you like to play the viol?" and I sais "Yes what is it?" and thus started a lifelong love of "early" music. Without wanting to bore you with the history, viols grew up with their more modern cousins the violin, viola and cello. Viols are all played "da Gamba" ie with the legs as opposed to "da braccia" #(of the arms) as violins and violas. Viols were left out by evolution at the beginning of the 19th century but enjoyed something of a renaissance (sic) in the 2nd half of the twentieth. So I started off on the tenor which roughly equates with the viola and quickly moved to the bass which is the solo instrument *(tous les matins du monde) and is similar in range to the cello. I became quite good but life/ theatricals got in the way and it has been somewhat neglected for almost twenty years. So I decided recently that I would need to get back to it as otherwise it would have been a waste especially as I have the two instruments - tenor and bass. I particularly love my bass. In a burning building scenario that would be the one thing I would have to rescue. It is about 160 years old and completely irreplacable. So I started practising. I got a gig in Dundonald Library (whoo hoo) last June and then one at Christmas in the Ulster Museum (otherwise known as "work"). Today I played Elizabethan music for a Shakespeare show as part of the opening festival for the recently refurbished Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. http://www.crescentarts.org/2010/03/23/crescent-overture-opening-week-april-2010/ It was great! But for future reference, if you see me carrying a case with an instrument in it, it is not (a) a guitar (does it look like one?!) nor is it (b) a cello. If I tell you on enquiring that it is a viol, that does not mean that it is a viola because it isn/'t. since I have been carting them around recently and I get asked these all the time I am thinking of getting stickers to put on the cases! I should of course just say "Hire me and you will find out!"