Notice anything strange about this pic? Check out the bass drone. This was how the pipes were pictured in an auction catalogue by a Devon-based company. They were expected to go for £60 – £80 but sold for close on £6,000. The auction house and the seller clearly knew next to nothing about the national instrument yet the blurb read:
‘An important set of bagpipes have found their way home to Scotland after attracting worldwide interest at auction on October 30, 2020. The early 20th century silver-mounted set sold for £5,749 against a pre-sale estimate of £60-£80 at Auction Antiques in Devon, to a Scottish private collector, who outbid interest from Europe and further afield.
‘The stunning set dated 1909, made in Glasgow, bears the maker’s mark PH, which means it was crafted by celebrated makers Peter Henderson, who have been producing the finest bagpipes since 1868. The set also came with its original, velvet-lined case and chanter.
‘Auction Antiques’ specialist in charge of the sale, Steve Ferguson, said: ‘Having been inundated with requests to bid from around the world, we are delighted that the winning bidder was from Scotland and thrilled that the bagpipes are returning to their native land. The buyer was a Scottish private collector, who truly knew and appreciated their historical significance.’
I trust there was no damage to the bass ring cap and its insert.
Reader Ian Forbes has made some suggestions worth serious consideration for the 2021 pipe band season – provided of course that we have one. Ian writes: ‘We are all truly hopeful that part of the forthcoming season can be saved.
‘I wonder if the RSPBA have considered reduced playing requirements for Grades 1 and 2? Currently, requirements are 2 x MSR and/or 2 x Medley selections to be submitted. Assuming that lockdown will not end for some weeks meaning limited time for full band practices, it may well be worth considering (just for 2021) a ‘band’s choice’ for all Grade 1/2 MSR and Medley contests this year.
‘Otherwise, if practice and preparation time are severely constrained, some bands could well decide just to abandon the 2021 season altogether. All possible measures should be introduced to encourage bands to compete in what is likely to be a significantly shortened competition season.
‘In this dire situation, anything and everything that can be done to encourage bands to participate in what is likely to be a highly truncated contest season should be considered. Potentially, bands may only have a few weeks of ‘allowed collective practice’ prior to a competition, so it makes so much sense to reduce playing requirements to a minimum e.g. bands own choice of MSR or Medley.’
I am sure Ian’s suggestion will be taken on board by Washington Street. Each week that drifts past the prospects of any pipe band activity this summer becomes less likely. The mood music and financial announcements here in the UK make it clear that we should expect no lifting of restrictions before the end of May and then only very gradually.
To put it bluntly, as with 2020, we are running out of time. Those ‘competition cancelled’ notices will start to become de rigueur sooner than we think. As I and MacStig have said before, we now need some sort of online contingency to keep the band world together.
Surely it should still be possible to have outdoor solo contests this July and August? But then I said that last year too, didn’t I? Prepare for a wipe out folks but do eveything you can – as we are doing here at Piping Press – to keep interest alive during this nightmare.
Details of the laying to rest of P/M Iain Murdo Morrison comes to us courtesy of the Stornoway Gazette: ‘Iain Murdo was a devoted family man, and will be most sorely missed by his wife Flora and their children, Catherine, Donalda and young Iain and their respective families, and we extend our deepest sympathy to them, and other close relatives.
‘His funeral, held under covid-19 restrictions, was well attended and he was laid to rest in the local cemetery at Gress [isle of Lewis] to the strains of James Duncan MacKenzie, his most successful local pupil, playing the piobaireachd Scarce of Fishing.’
A friend of correspondent Ken Rogers in Calgary has forwarded the above picture of the Rutherglen Pipe Band after they won the World Grade 2 title in 1948. He asks: ‘I was wondering if you could have any of the faces identified? I don’t remember hearing anything about a Rutherglen Pipe Band when I was young. The only pipe band in Rutherglen I knew of was the 137 Greenhill Boy Scouts Pipe Band. My brother was a drummer in the band. That was 1956 to about 1964. I would march behind the band with the Cub Scouts.’
Jimnmy Baxter, the pipe major, is far left standing, and my old Pipe Major, Alex MacIver, is sitting immediately to his left. Apart from that I can’t help your friend Ken. Maybe the readership can weigh in.