With the Hon. PM away on professional duties (yes we know he’s retired – but it seems there really is no rest for the wicked), the management of order of play fell to the Hon. Pres. The first piper invited up for a tune was Andrew Allison. “Where’s your mum tonight Andrew?” someone asked. “At home,” he replied and blew up his pipes. Less chat, more piping. The piping, it must be said, was very impressive – Andrew is clearly working hard and coming on in leaps and bounds. He treated us to a few traditional ¾, then 6/8 marches, and a big MSR – Jim McWilliams, Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn, and Ca’ the Ewes, on a lovely steady bagpipe.
Long-time Eagles supporter Donald MacLeod was up next. I must apologise for not knowing the names of many of his tunes, and not finding out from him afterwards. But they were good! I know he started with Donald MacLean of Lewis and another 6/8 march, moved on to a slow air and an excellent set of small strathspeys and reels, then finished with another slow air and an impressive hat-trick of big jigs – John Paterson’s Mare, the Judges’ Dilemma, and the finger-perfect Shaggy Grey Buck.
After the pie break, it was my turn to have a go. I’d decided to take a leaf out of Peter McCallister’s book and do something a bit different – namely an Eagle Pipers pub quiz. The audience was asked to name all the tunes, and guess the theme, i.e. what all the tunes had in common – all for the super-desirable prize of a mid-range bottle of white wine, and of course the glory. Points were awarded for each tune based on how difficult I thought they would be to name. I got that a bit wrong, as there were a few one-pointers that no one got… Anyway, the tunes were: 4/4 march Mrs. Flora Duncan; a little scrap of the 1st variation of Lament for Mary MacLeod; 6/8 marches Miss Lily Christie and the Sweet Maid of Mull (got it yet?); a line of Praise of Morag; strathspeys Lady Loudon, Sarah Lawrie, and Linda Aumonier; reels Kelsey’s Wee Reel, Miss MacKay, and Margaret McCall; a smidgeon of Sobieski’s Salute; slow air Welcome to the World Annie; and finally the Ladies’ Hornpipe. The theme of course was that all the tunes are named after women (although it was hard to argue with Andrew Gray’s alternative guess, “All played on the great highland bagpipe”.)
After totting up the points (which for most respondents didn’t take long, it must be said), the result was a fourth place finish by Craig Martin and Janne Hansen; a tie for second between Andrew Gray and the Gardiner/Hislop/Lindsay collaboration; and way out in front in first place was Donald MacLeod.
Thanks once again to all for indulging my geekiness – we’ll do it again later in the summer, but with a geographical twist this time.
The ultimate performance for the night was from Eagles newcomer Gordon Hislop, who had made the trek from Dundee to give us the evening’s piobaireachd. Gordon settled the pipes with a few marches, then got straight into it and gave us a very enjoyable The Glen is Mine. We hope Gordon will return and be a regular Eagle Pipers visitor and player.
Next gathering is 24th June at 8PM, should be pretty much exactly one hour after England’s third World Cup group-stage defeat. (Ok ok that was low, and with neither Scotland nor Canada in it, I’m in no position to poke fun. But I’m backing the Netherlands in the office pool so … so far so good.) See you on the 24th.