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Is there anything stopping pipe bands from having a practice outside during what remains of the summer? Weather permitting, why not get out onto the village green or any spare ground and just have a tune for the simple pleasure of it?
I was struck by this picture in the national press the other day of a brass band practising in Yorkshire. I have yet to see a similar scenario in Scotland.
So come on guys. Keep your distance. Fix your own chanter, tune your own drones, keep the sanitiser handy but get out there and blow. It will do you, your band and any listeners a lot of good. They’ll keep their distance, no question.
Bands are too hidebound by the competitive imperative anyway. This contest-free season is a chance to re-discover the pleasure of making music for its own sake rather than using it as a tool to beat the hell out of your rivals!
Get the kilt on, the pipes going, the drums rattling. Send us your pictures and a short piece about your band. It will help keep your spirits up and help drag Scotland kicking and screaming into some fear-free semblance of normality.
Adjudicator Archie Maclean has written re his article on the Lament for Mary MacLeod on June 16: ‘Excellent presentation of the article and many thanks to reader David Livingstone for the Crystal Palace information.’
Harry Stevenson in Northern Ireland: ‘I have attached a copy of the tune for wee Alec which was requested by reader Denis Connelly. Will you please pass it on to him.’
Downlaod a copy of the tune here:
Alec Craig was captured at the recently commemorated St Valery surrender during WW2. He is pictured here in 1939 prior to going into action on mainland Europe. His Pipe Major was Donald MacLean, Lewis. Also in the picture is P/M Donald MacLeod (to the P/M’s right):
Alec, although from Stranraer, retired to Larne. In the picture below he is seen tutoring William Evans formerly of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band:
The last time I spoke to Billy he was living and working as a car mechanic in Fort William. Grateful to you for the car rescue in Glencoe Billy!
Billy tells of how Alec was taught by P/M Donald MacLean during their PoW incarceration in Germany. When Donald lost his practice chanter Alec loaned him his and it was on this instrument that the famous 2/4 march, Major Manson at Clachantrushal, was composed. Alec is aged 82 in the picture (2001) and died a few years ago.
He’d had an eventful life even surviving the Princess Victoria disaster. The ship was one of the UK’s first ‘roll on, roll off ferries’ plying the waters between Stranraer and Larne. She got caught in a ferocious storm in the North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland and went down off the cost of Co. Down on the dark night of January 31, 1953, with the loss of 133 lives. Definitely worthy of a suitably sad pipe tune if there isn’t already one out there.