By Robert Wallace
The Daily Telegraph, one of the UK’s most influential newspapers, has brutalised the bagpipe in its coverage of the opening ceremony for the Ryder Cup.
Their report mentions the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band, one of the top dozen or so bands in the world. Here is what the Telegraph wrote:
‘The bagpipes sweepstake was closed after under five minutes. That was how long it took for the Vale of Atholl pipe band to emerge blinking into the dusk: puffing their strange agricultural horns, scaring the small children, engaging thousands of television viewers in an urgent search for the mute button. Still, it turned out to be the low point in what was a decidedly more modest Ryder Cup opening ceremony than we have become accustomed to of late.’
And the Establishment wonder why they have a problem with Scotland? Do these people not realise how important our national instrument and its music is to Scots and to thousands of other pipers and drummers and their families worldwide? Don’t they know how much money pipe bands bring into the country each year, or the thousands upon thousands who tune in to the BBC’s live streaming of the Worlds? Don’t they realise that it is the pipe band that made this a special golfing day, one uniquely Scottish, providing a geographical marker for millions of viewers the world over?
Can you imagine such a ceremony without the pipes? Indeed the high point of the Commonwealth Games opening was when the Pipes & Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards came on to the field. Instantly everyone knew exactly where this hugely important event was taking place, giving it character and a traditional musical accompaniment.
The Telegraph (aka ‘the Torygraph’ ) is very much the paper read by the UK’s lords and ladies, the admirals, the generals the ABC1s. Our forces chiefs are delighted when they can call on pipers to lament the fallen, to populate their tattoos and to bring colour and pageantry to welcome home ceremonies and the like. They should now be contacting their favourite rag to complain.
And we are fortunate that HM The Queen, the head of the Establishment firm if you like, does not share the Telegraph’s view of our national instrument. Every morning, whether at Balmoral or Buckingham Palace, she rises to the sound of auld Scotia – as every monarch has done since the days of Queen Victoria. Is the Telegraph happy to insult, indirectly, her musical taste?
Today we are calling for an apology from this newspaper and we ask that all those in agreement complete the poll below. We will then forward the results to the Telegraph editor and see what he has to say.
This public perception of the bagpipe as a non-musical, primitive aberration has got to stop. It will only do so if we make ourselves heard. We know the value of what we do. It’s time others woke up to it too.