PP Ed’s Festive Blog: Gordon Stobo/ Neil Robertson/ Cheughters/ PB Mag/ Roddy MacDonald

Short item I missed from the article on the British Legion contest programme of 1969. An advert reads: ‘Se an duine an t’aodach – Clothes Maketh the Man. What goes under a Heilandman’s kilt and other fascinating questions about Highland Dress can be answered by Gordon Stobo at Highland House, 328b Lawnmarket, Edinburgh – pipe bands kitted out – assistance with financing.’

Older readers will remember Mr Stobo. He was bit of a likeable rogue and disappeared to Australia leaving a number of unsettled issues, some financial, behind him.

The late Gordon Stobo

At the South Florida P&D Academy last year student Steve Adams produced a sheath of correspondence he’d had with him concerning a missing set of pipes. Steve had sent them over for repair back in the 1970s and never saw them again. Letters to Edinburgh Police and the city’s trading standards department produced no results.

Safe to say things are different today and the bagpipe industry in Scotland now operates to the very highest standards of service and quality.

Another ad. reads ‘After the Competition – A Ceilidh! in the West End Hotel, 35 Palmerston Place (10 minutes walk). We gather here by long-established custom, to hold a post-mortem on the day’s deeds. Inspired (rather than competition) piping ensues. Neil Robertson, the cheughter proprietor, will supply broth or barley according to one’s need, in exchange for money. He will also issue straw for those wishing to remain overnight! Central, comfortable, friendly, a home from home. Bring your Pipes!’

A real character was Neil. He hailed from Skye and wasn’t joking about the straw either. Aye, those were the days. What does the word ‘cheughter’ mean? I hear you ask. It is the Sassenach’s word for a Gaelic speaker, and one story is that it originated in the First World War when the pipe majors were invariably from the north and would tell their learner pipers during down time in the trenches that it was band practice and not to forget their ‘cheughter’ (tutor) books. Henceforth anyone using that word was given that name and it spread among we lowland Scots as a term of endearment for our Highland cousins.

Our regular Northern Ireland contributor John Kelly has sent this festive snap:

John, Honorary Vice President of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (Northern Ireland Branch), is pictured with Cllr. Janet Gray MBE (Freeman of the City of Lisburn) at a recent festive event in the Island Hall, Lisburn.  John is a regular contributor to the Ulster-Scots magazine as well as PP and Pipe Band Magazine. Lisburn, if you didn’t already know, is the home of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band.

Roddy MacDonald in Queensland has been in touch about the article we ran on Duncan Lamont: ‘Hi Rab. Merry Christmas to you and your family. I’m of course always reading with interest your articles. My late mother was born on the Isle of Muck where her father was a shepherd. The family then moved to Pennygael in n Mull. She was in the same class in school as Hector MacFadyen and of course knew Duncan Lamont well. After leaving the army Hector, from memory, was a psychiatric nurse as was my father. My father often spoke highly of his playing. Listening to recordings of him I understand why.’

Thanks for that Roddy; what a small world piping is. I remember your mother well but didn’t appreciate she was from the islands.

2 thoughts on “PP Ed’s Festive Blog: Gordon Stobo/ Neil Robertson/ Cheughters/ PB Mag/ Roddy MacDonald

  1. Hi Rab:

    Delightful stuff about the West End hotel. I had an experience there with my dad and Lily after The Eagle Piper’s Recital in 1972. Pipe Majors Iain MacLeod and Angus MacDonald.

    Bill figured in the less than flattering exchange. It’s recounted in my memoir.

    Cheughter – tutor. What a revelation.

    Heard Hector MacFadyen in a hotel bar in Oban playing Leaving Lunga.
    Beautiful playing. He died not long after.

    Keep the fascinating pot pourri of stuff coming. Great to read.


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