I appreciate that Attorney General Bill Barr is not the most popular lawyer on one side of the political divide in the US, but all I can say is that he was generous, affable, relaxed and welcoming to me.
I was flattered that knew me and said that he had followed my writings for many years. He agreed to our interview without any caveat or proviso. He set no boundaries.
In speaking to him I could easily have looked for something that would have made headlines in the national press, but my job was to keep our chat to one thing – bagpipes. That’s what readers of Piping Press are interested in; that’s where my duty lay.
If a trained newshound can do so is it really not possible for other pipers to put politics aside when the instrument is front and centre? Should we not feel honoured and proud that someone in such high office can re-route his schedule to listen to a pipe band contest?
Some of the comments received by us clearly show that people are hurting. They couldn’t just smile at the video of Mr Barr surprising the crowd in the Justice Department with his impromptu performance, nor nod approval at the way a father sought out a teacher so that his son could learn the instrument that had captivated him.
Let us not forget, whether prince or poor man, broom pusher or high flying lawyer, the instrument is there for us all – and those doublings are are just as difficult for everyone. You may not like Mr Barr’s politics but that is no reason to dislike him as a piper, as a fellow member of our distinguished club. (See Letters for more.)
RSPBA Adjudicator Harry Stevenson: ‘I am working on a programme of tunes about events and places from the Second World War which I am planning to play for the Blackthorn Pipers Society in November.
‘I need information about two tunes, firstly Gliding to Arnhem in Edcath Book 1. All I have is it was composed by a D MacArthur. Does anyone have his first name and his regiment and if he survived the Arnhem landings?
‘Secondly, The Heroes of Kohima by Bombardier J Stewart. Again what was his first name and his regiment? With his rank he had to be an artilleryman, but was he attached to a Scottish Regiment?
‘I plan to play around 20 tunes and Matthew Warwick from the Ulster Scots Discovery Centre (himself a piper) has agreed to do a presentation to support the tunes. Can anyone help?’
I am sure the vast army of PP readers will come up with something Harry. Anyone with info should email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it on. Worthy of consideration for your presentation would be the tune by P/M Peter MacInnes, Lt John Young (pictured above), the young Scots soldier who gave his life for his men at Kohima. Read more here and if you’re so inclined Harry, feel free to use what you need from this touching story.
Reader Mark Christy: ‘Hello, I think that I saw, once upon a time, a pipe band adjudication book written by Rab. I can’t seem to locate it anywhere.’
I didn’t write a book on pipe band judging Mark but I did compile and edit the ‘Judge’s Companion’ when I was at the College of Piping. It has one short chapter on band judging which may be what you are remembering.
Sadly the College no longer exists but maybe there are still some copies with the new owners, the National Piping Centre. I know Bob Shepherd and Alistair Aitken did a lot of work on pipe band judging so maybe Bob can help. Either way, I’ll make a note to compose an article on band judging as soon as I have the time.
Readers in the far north will be cheered by the following from Angela Nicholson, Piping Convenor: ‘We are pleased to announce that there will be a competition for solo pipers at this year’s Mey Highland Games and hope this opportunity can be added to your events listing.
‘Details are as follows: Mey Highland Games, Saturday 3rd August, John O’Groats Showground, Solo Piping Junior & Senior (Open). Further details email@example.com First held in the village of Mey to celebrate HM The Queen Mother’s 70th Birthday, the Games continues to enjoy the support of our official chieftain HRH Prince Charles. Join us at John O’Groats show-ground on Saturday 3rd August www.meygames.scot’