As I negotiated my way through the labyrinthine tram works towards the Scots Guards club, little did I know realise that this was to be a momentous night, when the hallowed Eagle Pipers match report pencil was passed into my possession. I was greeted by the sound of pipes drifting across Haymarket and on entry into the club found the Honorary Pipe Major giving his pipes a good blow down. Euan was preparing to play at the sad occasion of his good friend Andrew Craig’s funeral the following day and wanted to get the pipes going just right. The rest of the evening was fittingly dedicated to “Lefty’s” memory.
The Honorary PM and I were initially concerned that we had turned up on the wrong night due to the lack of arrivals, but in the meantime Euan gave a fine recital for one, including Oran Mor MacLeod – more MacLeod tunes later. One of the first members through the door was the first piper of the evening, Douglas Gardiner. Douglas and the Honorary Secretary later engaged in a deep discussion about the tribulations of the follicly-challenged gentleman of a certain age. It was perhaps these hirsute worries that led to Douglas asking me to step in at short notice and prepare the match report for the evening?However, in the meantime, he set about the task in hand on a lovely bagpipe, starting with the 6/8 MacNeill of Ugadale, followed by the MSR Glenfinnan Highland Gathering, Piper’s Bonnet and Sheepwife. Douglas then gave us the ground and first variation of MacGregor’s Salute on a pipe that most in the audience agreed was ‘Head & Shoulders’ above the norm. He then Regained a brisker tempo, finishing up with Crossing the Minch and Kenny Gillies of Portnalong.
Next up was Diarmid Lindsay, looking the part in his Lindsay tartan kilt. Diarmid was playing a full sounding set of 1960’s Sinclairs, and opened with a slow air, followed by Kirkhill and PM Donald MacLeod’s Dr Ross’s 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering and MacLeod of Mull. He followed up with a nice set of 4/4s, including an arrangement of the popular strathspey Smith’s a Gallant Fireman, Willie Lawrie’s tune The 8th Argyll’s Farewell to the 116thRegiment de Ligne and fittingly Within a Mile o’ Edinburgh Toun. Diarmid was then cajoled by the PM into continuing as the pies weren’t quite ready, so finished up with a couple of small 2/4 marches. Diarmid explained that this was the first time he had played since being part of the massed band on the first evening of the reformed society and hopefully it won’t be too long until we hear him again.
The post pie piper this week was Tracey Williams. The Honorary PM gave a brief introduction, dedicating the tune to Lefty, explaining that he was a Piobaireachd enthusiast and would have very much enjoyed listening to the tune. Tracey settled the pipe with a set of 4/4 marches, kicking off with Murdo’s Wedding, and continued with a steady set of 6/8s including the aforementioned Dr Ross and finishing up with The Glendaruel Highlanders. The Piobaireachd for the evening was MacLeod’s Controversy, a short musical, yet intricate tune, written by Donald Mor MacCrimmon and containing his signature touches such as the eponymous run-down.
The tune itself relates to feuding between the MacLeod’s of Dunvegan and the MacDonald’s of Sleat which came to a head when Donald Gorm Mor MacDonald rejected the sister of Rory Mor MacLeod, on account of her being disfigured having lost an eye. The story goes that he sent her back to the MacLeods riding on a one-eyed horse, led by a one-eyed groom with a one-eyed mongrel towing behind. Understandably, Rory Mor went “pure radio rental” at this slight and thus precipitated much feuding and blood letting between the clans. According to Angus MacKay’s narrative, “both parties were bent headlong against each other, with a spirit full of revenge and fury and so continued mutually infesting one another with spoil and cruel slaughters, to the utter ruin and desolation of both their countries until the inhabitants were forced to eat horses, dogs, cats and other filthy beasts”. [Clearly, not quite up to the culinary standard of the famous Eagles Pie, then.] Peace eventually broke out, having been brokered by the King and to celebrate, it appears the MacLeod’s hosted the MacDonald’s of Sleat for a six day bender at Dunvegan and the events were commemorated by Donald Mor MacCrimmon’s tune.
Back to the tune, Tracey gave an excellent rendition on an immaculate bagpipe that seemed to lock in even more as the tune continued; the quality of the drone sound in particular standing out and surely a fine augur for the forthcoming games season.
To finish the evening Tom Peterkin entered the fray with a couple of 3/4s, Colin’s Cattle and Castle Dangerous, followed by the 2/4 competition marches Captain Carswell by Willie Lawrie, Millbank Cottage and the little-heard Atholl Highlanders March to Loch Katrine. Tom finished up with a rousing rendition of the hornpipe Jimmy Tweedie’s Sea Legs.
So an excellent evening’s piping came to an end. There was some discussion prompted by the Honorary President about hosting an informal 6/8 march and jig competition for members at the next meeting. Colin’s novel and complex scoring system may require some tweaking but watch this space for details….