From the Ridiculous to the Sublime…and back again?!
I have been away from the pen for some time, dear Match Report readers, and what better opportunity to return than when our Hon Pres, his Hon Wife and the Hon P/M are playing with jelly fish and sting rays in Australia?!
I hear tell of a particular tale from their jaunt whereby a golf match took place between certain members of the Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band (NZ) and our very own Eagles Golf Pros, Pres and P/M. It was, I’m told, a hard-fought battle but the Kiwis came out on top. Clearly the Eagles are more accustomed to a good Scottish haar than blazing sunshine. Alas, this ill-fated golf match coincided with the weekend that the All Blacks (NZ) continued their 107-year winning streak at Murrayfield. It would be fair to say that the author (NZ) took a degree of satisfaction in at least one of these results.
Back in Auld Reekie, Haymarket continues to resemble a battlefield, and as we puddle-jumped our way to the Scots Guards Club, the warm and resonant pipes of Lachie Dick called us in to the throng alive with the chat from last weekend’s Scottish Piping Society of London competition. This continues to be one of the biggest on the circuit, with some of the best stories to come out as a result. The only one fit to be repeated here was told by newly appointed Secretary to the Joint Committee for Judging, Douglas Gardiner, when after stopping 4 bars into his hornpipe, he was presented with a piece of cherry cake by one of the judges as a prize for the shortest hornpipe.
Douglas had further treats in store for us tonight, when he pulled from a mysteriously shaped handbag, a set of 1800s Parlour Pipes. I last saw this set wrapped in paper towels in a lunch box, however Douglas has breathed new life into them, although confessing that “they’re not as much fun as I thought they’d be”. We thought they were tremendous fun and in fact were the source of a few giggling fits, particularly when Douglas’ tutor and Senior Judge, Tom Speirs, and the current Glenfiddich Champion and winner of the 2012 Bratach Gorm, Iain Speirs entered the room. Douglas indeed looks as if he has grown rather a lot to dwarf his pipes – either that or that he has put his pipes through a rather too-vigorous spin cycle.Douglas will bring pancakes to next Eagle Pipers to match the C on the Parlour Pipes’ chanter.
Pies seemed to come around quickly tonight, and at one stage The Pot was overheard telling The Kettle that if he didn’t eat so many pies he would be able to fit between the small gap in the chairs. This was said as both Pot and Kettle were setting about their 3rd pies. Regular readers will perhaps guess who The Pot and The Kettle might be?!
Our Hon Sec/Treas was next with pipes out. Let me tell you readers, this was a treat. Remember all those Olympic athletes in August who would do a victory lap of the stadium? Remember the relaxation, elation and loose-limbed energy that bounded from them? Perhaps Iain would say differently, but this was how he seemed to me tonight. If Iain were less of a humble, thoughtful and quietly-spoken gentleman, perhaps he would have let out a whoop of excitement. As it was, he opened the pipe case, pulled out a near perfectly-tuned instrument, and proceeded to trot out a number of small warm-up marches before launching into an effortless triple S/R set of some of the Big Classics. Flowing, apparently easy and utterly lovely. Like a marathon runner going for a light jog on a warm summer’s day, the tunes oozed off Iain’s fingers. He started into MacLeod of Colbeck’s Lament, playing the ground and first couple of variations, and then diverted again back to the Ceol Beag, ripping through his hornpipe and jig with gusto! This is enchanting listening. As a competitor I know the difference in the way I feel when I am really enjoying my playing. Not battling instrument or memory, cold weather or nerves. It was incredible to watch this in another person. A piper on top of his game and on top of the world.
What footsteps to follow, and following admirably came Cameron Drummond. Cameron decided to keep us all guessing by switching drone reeds half way through his set. Starting out with Canning reeds and then switching to Eezedrone, it was tough to tell the difference and Cameron displayed his expertise in intuitively setting reeds quickly and they both settled to harmonise quickly for his sets. We were treated again to the ground of The Unjust Incarceration which is definitely in my Top 5 Favourite Tunes of All Time.
During a break for a blether and to top up pints, we could hear the unmistakable sound of pipes, albeit distant. Two tables’ worth of Eaglers were searching and swiveling their heads trying to figure out where the playing was coming from. Tom Peterkin happened to be one of the head-swivelers and also joined in with pocket-patting. Was it his phone? No. His other phone? No. Yours? Who is this playing a very decent rendition of The Curlew? Had anyone ducked upstairs to get the pipes out? Then our dear Tam realised that Donald MacPherson had joined us for a wee tune, via his iPod and headphones which had activated when he sat on them!
After this, Tom was obliged to finish a tremendous evening, and while he left his best tuning until the end, he managed to refrain from playing 4 drones tonight.
The Hons Pres and P/M return from gallavanting next time, so do join us for tales and tunes from the Outback.
***HOT OFF THE PRESS!!!***