PP Editor’s Blog: Christmas Eve 2015

Dropping off some tutor books to RG Hardie the other day I was kindly given a spin round the operation by director Alastair Dunn, P/Sgt of Field Marshal.

I was able to  meet again Duncan Campbell who was apprenticed to Bob Hardie from 1962 and started in the old works at Crowhill Road, Bishopbriggs. Duncan is still working away at the hard art of making bagpipes and spoke fondly of his time in Bishopbriggs and at the shop at 24 Renfrew Street, Glasgow.

Alastair told me that he and Margaret are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary this year and their two sons, aged 6 and 3, are growing fast and quite a handful. Margaret has another handful helping, when she can, father Con Houlihan P/M of Cullen Pipe Band back home in Ireland.

Alastair and Duncan in the RG Hardie workshop in Glasgow
As everyone knows, Alastair is a double Gold Medallist and he told me the story of how when attending the Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh back in 2009 he and Margaret went into the Graham tent (Alastair’s a Graham on his mother’s side). There was a picture of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, and Margaret (bit of the speywife about these colleens) predicted that Alastair would get his lament to play at the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban later in the summer. He duly did and thus completed his set.

Alastair said that FMM were working hard towards their ‘Impact’ concert next August and of course competing in the five majors and many other events.

I can say that Robert Hardie would have been delighted to see his name carried on by such a well-run and thriving business.

As regards the Tutor Book, I am pleased to say it has been very well received and is now in its second edition. Tutor Book 2 which takes the beginner to the intermediate stage, has just arrived from the printer. Stockists are: RG Hardie, Scott Currie, Ayrshire Bagpipes and in Edinburgh Kilberry Bagpipes. In Canada Terry Lee’s Tartantown is the place. Both books are available via the Piping Press Shop. Any other stockists who wish copies please get in touch.

Jak at the South Pole…love the penguin!!
The BBC ran this story yesterday: ‘A piper from the Scottish Borders has realised his dream of playing at the South Pole. Jak Kennedy, 29, from Carlops, completed his mission earlier this month. It took him seven days to complete the 70-mile (112km) sled journey to his destination.He was able to play Scotland the Brave before a valve on his pipes froze up and thwarted his efforts to play a second tune.

‘I suppose the ambition at first was just to get to the South Pole and that is something I had been thinking about for years,’ he told BBC Radio Scotland. He decided to combine his ambition with his piping skills to create a ‘true Scottish experience at the Pole’.

The journey itself proved to be a challenging one in temperatures which dropped as low as -49C. ‘It took us about seven days to get about 112 kilometres with 50 kilos on a sled and we encountered some seriously cold temperatures.His team eventually reached its destination and Mr Kennedy said scientists in the nearby research station turned out to hear his performance which was not as long as he had hoped.

‘I played my first tune, Scotland the Brave, and after that I thought I will have another go,’ he explained. ‘But actually the valve that lets the air in froze up solid and I couldn’t play again. I think I did OK, I think I passed but I wouldn’t put it as my finest performance but definitely the toughest.’

Talking of cold, the Scottish Tradition School of Piping in Calgary, Alberta, has introduced a new syllabus of studies.  Ken Rogers: ‘Instead of grades or levels each progression will be marked by a certificate.  The new program emulates the Standards for Piping Certificates outlined by The Prairie Piping and Drumming School Association. The original program was created and overseen by Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, Seaforth Highlanders, and Pipe Major William MacLeod, Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada. Starting in 1968 the original goal was to introduce a system of grading whereby ‘…students will strive to increase their knowledge and playing abilities, thus raising the overall standard of piping and drumming in Western Canada.’ 

xmas logoCompliments of the season to all readers and advertisers.

It may be cold where you are but it won’t be at….