The editor writes: Well it’s late at night now in Inverness and the pipers have gathered nervous but ready for tomorrow’s competitions. The Eden Court Theatre stands darkened, watchful and waiting, waiting to welcome the piper who will etch a new name on our tablet of history.
Northern Meeting 2015 was launched in fine style at a reception given by the City Council in the splendid Town House, the equivalent of city hall or Ratthaus, depending on where you are in the world.
We were cheered by some tasty refreshments and the accomplished piping of last year’s Gold Medallist Douglas Murray (above) and then by the band of the Queens Own Highlanders Association. Everyone remarked on how musical their playing was. Not your straight-line stuff; good tunes, March of the Cameron Men etc., played with lilt and lift.
It is to the credit of the Inverness City Council that they recognise the importance of the Meeting and the thousands of people it brings to the city in early September and the interest it generates worldwide among those who can’t make the journey.
I was able to chat to the Provost Ellen a Glaswegian, and I hope I convinced her that it was important that her council continue to support the piping competitions. Earlier she gave a very cogent and well-received speech and reminded everyone that the Northern Meeting competitions pre-dated the 19th century building we were standing in by some 40 years.
More than anything I am pleased to report a re-kindling of the fraternal aspect of the Northern Meeting that I first experienced in the 1970s. Sure we came to compete then, but just as important was the opportunity to meet pipers from parts of Scotland and abroad that we only saw once a year – at Inverness.
So after the reception it was off to the pub and there was a splendid Duncan Watson, Aberdeen, sporting a sort of homespun version of Highland garb, breeks previously unheard of for him. All was going fine until we came to the brogues…..
Then the stories, stories, stories….’The Canister’ in Donald MacLeod’s Book 4 (I think) had nothing to do with bag moisture control systems. ‘The Canister’ was a man, a man named Donald MacLeod from Caithness – outspoken and quite a character, said Duncan….and so it went on. This was the stuff of legend you travel north to hear, and thanks to Duncan for regaling his tales so interestingly.
And there too at the bar was Neill from Lewis who’d taken three days off work and travelled all the way over just to hear the piping. It gladdened the heart to hear of his interest; we need more Neils. He’ll certainly hear good piping – and history being made tomorrow and the day after, and well done to him for supporting the competition with his time and money.
Neil told us he was a former pupil of the late Norrie Gillies and learned his piping when Norrie was teaching in the schools around Ullapool. Great stories and a pleasure to meet you Neil.
Joining us later were adjudicators John Wilson and Bob Worrall, both swapping even more stories and generally enjoying the craic (as I’m told we must spell it).
Well it all gets a bit more serious tomorrow, so it was an early night all round, but it was a pleasure to re-discover that part of what the Northern Meeting is really all about…like-minded people coming together to talk about and enjoy their favourite music.
Stay tuned for first results tomorrow (in the early evening or late afternoon) ….. ‘Did I ever tell you about the time…..