Editor’s Notebook

A hearty well done to Boghall and Bathgate for supporting the Princes Street Gardens contest last weekend but why on earth did they form up in a circle in front of the Ross Bandstand? With part of the band’s backs to the terraced audience it looked, from photographs I’ve seen, so last century.

Goodness knows what the visitors must have thought. Would a brass band have shaped up that way? Would a troupe of Balinese ballet dancers, a Singalese string section, a balalaika ensemble from the deepest Dneiper? Not a chance, but the good old pipe band never lets you down does it?

The pipe band circle…mired in the 1930s

Still mired in the 1930s military format, we crave parity of esteem with other professional musicians yet we perform like scared amateurs. It took the lower grade bands, Mesa Caledonia etc., to show the way, and a pat on the back for them and all of those who fronted up and faced their audience (and the judges) in a sensible semi circle.

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Regular correspondent Duncan Watson has sent this picture of the plaque to Donald Cameron in Maryburgh, Easter Ross:

Duncan writes: ‘Just came across this in my bits and pieces. It is a plaque attached to Seaforth Cottage, Maryburgh, which is a couple of miles south of Dingwall, now firmly on the map because of Ross County football team. It was there of course a long time before Ross County.

‘The plaque was put on the house by Inverness Piping Society some years ago. The house/cottage is called Seaforth Cottage and was, as I understand, given to Donald Cameron for occupancy as he was employed by the Brahan Castle people, the MacKenzies. The MacKenzies reputedly owned land from the east to the west coast.

Donald Cameron and his son Keith

‘Sadly there is no piping legacy from the Camerons left in the area to speak of. Being a native of Dingwall, I have often wondered who attended the cottage for tuition and what exactly went on within those walls – if only they could speak.  

‘Occasionally one of the sons of Donald would play at events in Dingwall Town Hall and this was recorded in a letter which I have seen, but cannot find at the moment. Recently we had the Fochabers Castle Games and Colin Cameron was based there for some time. 

‘It would have been in that period that he wrote his MS. It seems his brother was at Aboyne at that time. Both Aboyne and Fochabers have Gordon connections, but seemingly are not related.’

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What can one say about the remarkable Jimmy McIntosh? He’s just had another birthday and writes: ‘Hope you enjoy this wee recording I made on my 94th birthday after a few glasses of wine. Please forgive the wee slip somewhere in the crunluath.’

Kevin Douglas is the new piping convenor at Strathardle Games. Kevin writes: ‘Hi Robert, I have now the honour of taking over as piping convenor at Strathardle Gathering which is held on the 24th August. 

‘I am trying to promote the competition as best I can as it usually falls on the same day as Cowal but every four years it doesn’t coincide. 

‘I have going up to this competition for the last 15 years or so with our local pipe band and it is well run and is in a beautiful location in Kirkmichael. It encourages young players and is very popular with the tourists and locals alike.

‘I have been able to get the prize money increased to £50 -1st, £30 – 2nd and £15. -3rd for the Open, and £30 – 1st, £20 – 2nd and £10 – 3rd for the juniors.’ 

I have replied to Kevin suggesting as a next step a further increase in prizemoney and the introduction of a piobaireachd event. Please support this small games if you can. Three tunes for the seniors and own choice for the juniors. Piping details here.

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1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook

  1. Rab – I think the reason ALL G1 bands formed a circle at last Sunday’s competition is straightforward. They were in attendance as part of their preparation for Inverness which is a competition that requires a circle formation. Perhaps if you had made a few enquires you would of picked up on discussion that took place where the bands requested and agreed to the circle format. After all it’s a members association !

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