Editor’s Notebook: Somme Pipes/ Skye Games/ JCVC Hits 100/ Mike Tumelty/ New Painting

Apropos the Somme bagpipe and the doubts and comment thereon, consider this possible sequence of events. The pipes are delivered by the War Office to the family in Northumberland some time in 1917. They have been scraped up from the battlefield mud and blood. It would be fair to assume they were in a state of disrepair after what they had been through, mounts shot up, joints cracked.

The grieving family decide, perhaps at a much later date, 1930/40/50s, to have them refurbished. The maker, probably in Edinburgh a couple of hours north on the Great Eastern, advises that the metalwork is fine but that it would be impossible to replicate the original mounts. Much better to replace them all with the latest ivory substitute. They agree, the work is done and the pipes are returned and placed in the original leather pipe case they went to war in. Through time the mounts turn yellow.

The Scott pipers, father and son

Did Private Scott have a second set? I think it highly unlikely that a lowly soldier in the Army in those days of want and poor wages would have had two sets of pipes at his disposal. If there was a set lying around the small brick terraced house of the working class of the times more likely it would be sold or pawned for food, clothing, rent or for other necessities like crates of Newcastle Brown.

Just a few thoughts. I have heard a rumour that they were bought by a prominent piper in Scotland. Congratulations to him on his purchase and well done for honouring in this way the memory of a very brave soldier of WW1, Piper William Scott of the Tynside Scottish.



Talking of war heroes, congratulations to Mr John Cruickshank VC on reaching 100 not out. This splendid picture adorned the front page of the Aberdeen’s Press & Journal newspaper:

Mr Cruickshank has been further immortalised, if that is possible, by Dave Mason’s fine 6/8 march which I am sure you are all playing by now.


Skye Gathering’s Piping Convenor Cameron MacFadyen has said that, with the exception of the two World Wars, 2020 is the only occasion that the games have been cancelled since inauguration in 1877. What a shame.


Very sorry to hear of the passing of music critic Michael Tumelty. For decades Mike was a pillar of the Scottish music establishment. Writing for the Glasgow Herald, he was the only critic to bother himself with finding out about our music and instrument.

I knew him through the newspaper and music business and he sought me out for information and background at the time of Willie Baxter’s Scotway Invitational contest held in Glasgow City Chambers in the late 80s.

Mike reported at length on the lucrative contest, seen by some as a rival to the Glenfiddich, and even superior to it given that it had the added prestige of attracting the greatest piper of the time, perhaps of all time, Donald MacPherson, whose aversion for Blair Castle and its organiser Seumas MacNeill is well documented.

Mike wrote eloquently of Donald’s winning performances at the Scotway showing an understanding of the national instrument rare among mainstream music critics. Sincere condolences to his family at this time.


Artist David Bruce has submitted another painting for the Lockdown Challenge. David writes: ‘Early in the lockdown I came up with this. I started with a blank page, I didn’t draw anything out just to see where it would end up.

‘I’ve decided to call this one ‘MacCrimmon’. It’s painted in gouache on cartridge paper and it ended up quite a technical exercise. I hope you enjoy. Many thanks again for the opportunity.’

Thanks David. There are few other paintings yet to be published and there’s still time to submit an entry to judge Robert Mathieson.


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