A Pint of Whisky Too Many….

ImageThe Bermuda Triangle is a region in the Western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and surface vessels have reportedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Popular culture has attributed these disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extra-terrestrial beings. The evidence to support some of these ‘disappearances’ is a bit thin and perhaps on the odd occasion they are prone to exaggeration but none the less when something goes missing or astray the term ‘disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle’ is often quoted.

True or false, without doubt there certain areas, buildings and indeed people that hold a certain mystic and when one comes into their environs things can go horribly wrong.

Back in the day one such area and building was The West End Hotel in Palmerston Place, Edinburgh that hosted the Eagles for many years. It was a Highland mecca in the Lowlands. People flocked there in their droves just to sample the atmosphere and if they were lucky be abused by mine host Neil Robertson. Some were not seen for days and such was the power of the ambience and John Barleycorn most could not recall what had happened during their visit

One such individual was the late Douglas Wilkie. His son Malcolm went to school with Colin and I. Douglas was not a piper or to my knowledge greatly musical but nonetheless he had a penchant for disappearing on a Friday night into the ‘Westers’. Douglas was a chartered surveyor and his wife, Mina, a schoolteacher. Mina was quite an intimidating woman. Suffice to say she just needed to breathe on bread to turn it into toast!

Thus despite being an educated man, aware of all the pitfalls of entering Palmerston Place, Douglas regularly popped out for some unnecessary messages and disappeared in the West End hotel.

I have fond memories of meeting him there, his messages in one hand, a large dram in the other. At least two of the 6 eggs he had bought would be broken and the rest he didn’t need anyway. When I enquired how he was doing he would give an impish grin, raise his glass and wink. (Quarter gills in these days by the way).  Enough said.

So those days are past now and in the past they shall remain……………………well not quite.

The Eagles have moved on and are now housed in The Scots Guards Association Club, on Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh. The West End Hotel is now a sports bar. However while we are all older and wiser its nice to know that people can still fall victim to mystical magnetic powers that can cause them to do the ‘impromptu’.

Wednesday 15th February was one such day when the Hon President, Colin MacLellan, strayed into the vicinity of the Scots Guards Club. He popped in and yes, you’ve guessed it, came out some hours later with rubber joints.

Having managed to negotiate his way home and avoid standing on Keira he then plonked himself down at the laptop and sent this wee response to an email to a small group of people.

Adivsewaty. 1st tee 98am” This was timed at half past midnight.

Email 2 followed at 00.41. “Please dirserard my last comernt, rult od an ussccadlrd viit toi the Sciors Gaurdsa Clun

The following morning at 06.35 email number 3 came in, “Seriously please disregard my previous two e mails. It is morning now. I accidentally called into the Scots Guards Club last night and drank a pint of whisky too many.

So you have been warned. The Haymarket triangle may not be safe especially for those with spines made of wet gingersnap.

Other lessons to be learned from this sorry tale are when you have a cargo of the ‘truth serum’ on board don’t go near the laptop and if you do, don’t be naive enough to think the messages you send will be deleted and the episode will disappear into the ether.

Fast forward to Tuesday 21st and another Eagle Pipers night in the Sciors Gaurdsa Clun.


The quite unassuming Donald M under the watchful eye of the best man

Having seasoned the sheepskin I kicked the evening off with a few small tunes. Donald MacLeod was up next and he was once again in fine form. Perhaps the spring in his Marches was due to the fact that this was his last few days of freedom as his wedding to Sheila was on the horizon. All he had to do was survive the stag weekend in Dunoon! Not an easy task when your best man is the ‘good Doctor Gray”.  We gave the best man some speech advice: marriage is an institution but then again so is HMP Saughton; and marriage is a story in which the hero dies in the first chapter.  For some reason he wasn’t too keen to use this dazzling material?

off to play a hornpipe?

Note: You will see from the photographs what a difference a day-or two makes.

Next for shaving was Cameron Drummond.

As always a treat to hear and he gave us some of the repertoire from the Spirit’s performance at the Celtic Connections concert.

Donalds first tune at the Eagles

Donald MacKinnon had brought his pipe in for some running repairs and after a quick tweak he managed to give us a short blast. Donald and his good lady Christine have been regulars at the Eagles since it restarted. They are truly piping enthusiasts so it was a real treat to get him up for a tune.

After the pies the Hon President, who had tailored his drinking habits to gin and slimline, got up and deftly stepped his way through a series of light music tunes including a competition MSR.

The Lament for Mary McLeod

Having settled his pipe he introduced his piobaireachd The Lament for Mary McLeod. An excellent interpretation of this popular tune on a first class pipe. Colin is off to Canada soon to host another Ottawa Eagles session.

Next up was Robert Gray who having settled his pipe down with some 6-8 marches played a series of interesting jigs, stamping his own interpretation all over them.

Closing the night with a few jigs

The final player of the night was Lachie Dick from North Uist. This was his second visit to the Eagles but I missed him last time round. His pipe was quite a surprise as out came this big booming sound. A very fine performance that was closed with the jigs Findlay’s Murchies Birthday, James MacLellan’s Favourite and Findlay MacDonald.

So that was the evenings evening. Another first class night.

Hope to see you all next time round Tuesday 6th March when Douglas Gardiner will be on the Piob.

Euan Anderson

Hon PM



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2 responses to “A Pint of Whisky Too Many….

  1. ~ I think you might have given me a bit of credit for the amazing improvement in e mail writing in a time span of less than 6 hours.

    Obviously no story is at its best unless highly embellished.

  2. Pingback: 2013 | The Eagle Pipers' Society

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