Disturbing Comments on Band in National Press

vale of atholl
The Vale….unfairly maligned in the Daily Telegraph

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.’

ryder cup logo 2014And 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.

Read Pipe Band Magazine. Available October 1 from rspba.org and here

PB front

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.

[polldaddy poll=8335457]


16 thoughts on “Disturbing Comments on Band in National Press

  1. I’m an Englishman who’s lived in Scotland for ten years. I played in pipe bands for 25 years and have always been infuriated by the brainless and unconsidered attitudes of many of the main stream media ‘pundits’. There always has to be what they obviously think is a witty remark but is undoubtedly a derisory ‘dig’ at a unique form of music which has formed magical bonds between people from all over the World. It even happens in Scotland. If you don’t like it, stay away and keep your stupid assinine comments to yourselves and those who are stupid enough to believe you.

  2. I am a conservative voter living in England and I love the pipes, so much so that I learned to play and joined a pipe band . The skirl of the pipes gives me goose bumps.
    Whilst I deplore what the Telegraph has written I am disappointed that you portray the English Tory party as Scot haters when in fact the reverse would appear to be the case.

    1. Thanks to the thousands so far who have read and responded to my story on the Daily Telegraph’s comments on the pipes. Of those who took part in the poll there was a clear majority in favour of seeking an apology from the paper. I will foward a letter to the Editor of the paper later and see what reaction we get. If any I’ll publish it here.
      Apropos the couple of mildly adverse comments, ‘the Torygraph’ tag has nothing to do with politicising the story. It’s a nickname the paper has long had and is in common usage among journos and media types. To the other comment, nowhere is the Conservative Party mentioned. Regular readers will be aware that I have campaigned for many years to have our mainstream media treat our instrument with some respect, irrespective of the political leanings of the organ concerned. We all have a duty to let them know when we feel we are being demeaned. Shame on the left-leaning Guardian for including this old chestnut in their Letters page not so long ago: ‘I read somewhere that a gentleman is someone who can play the bagpipes, but doesn’t.’ RW.

  3. Feeling about the bagpipe are the true shibboleth, the true litmus test as to whether your veins carry any Scottish blood. I knew the first time I heard them. Scots on both sides of my family.

  4. How crass a comment by some twit who has no class or talent when they stoop so low to make fatuous comment on such an occasion when they had an opportunity to make a meaningful positive statement on the Ryder Cup. Quite cheap really. And that being done with our recent referendum still warm on the plate. Cheap and stupid.

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