Saturday, 31 August 2013


Bagpipes are best heard outside and no more so than at the graveside or in the parade ground.

Iain was asked to play at a funeral last week.  The piper heads the procession to the graveside. The hearse, then the family, then the visitors follow after that.  It was a mid August day with the surrounding fields golden and the hedgerows and oak trees in thick green foliage.

Iain has a stock of tunes he uses and always tries to choose one to fit the occasion, e.g. perhaps the person had associations with the highlands or one the Western Islands, say, Mull or Skye.  

At the tea afterward Iain enjoyed talking to people who he knew in Vancouver when he first went out in 1966.  Also the man who died was associated with the 6th Clydebank Cubs where Iain learned to play the pipes.  It turned out it was this man's father who taught him all the grips ... all those year's ago.

We spent an afternoon at the World Pipe Band Competition several weeks ago.  Here is the SFU band heading into the arena to play their competition set for Grade 1 Band. This Vancouver band had the bad luck of getting drenched in a passing shower while they played.  Heaven knows what it must have done to the pipes and the drum heads!

The BBC had gantries of cameras taking photos of their blue shirts getting wetter and wetter.   All this could be seen on the big screens around the park.  Iain recalls the days when he spoke to the Glasgow Herald to get somebody to go and cover the championships in a serious way.  Their usual coverage was to run simply a picture of a bekilted toddler snoozing beside his dad's big bass drum.

We were very lucky to be in the VIP tent when the shower came on having been given a special entry ticket by a contact of Iain's we met as we came in the gate.  Otherwise I don't think we would have lasted.  Fortunately the sun came out and the rest of the day was clear.  We were impressed with the school bands participating.  They were from all over and played to a high standard. Heartening.

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