Editor’s Notebook: Govan Police/ PPBSO Judging Initiative/ ‘Talk Piob’/ Malcolm on Mull/ Piping and Golf

Thanks to reader Dave Rischmiller for this colourised photograph of the Govan Police Pipe Band from the 1890s. As everyone knows this band was the forerunner of the Glasgow/ Strathclyde Police band.

They made what we believe to be the world’s first ever recording of a pipe band. You can listen to it on the PP Archive here.

History buffs will know that Govan at one time covered a large area to the west of the city of Glasgow. It straddled both sides of the River Clyde. When the two conurbations joined forces there was a chance that the new city would be called Govan, not Glasgow. Glasgow City Police Pipe Band would then have been styled Govan City Police.

Given this history the Glasgow Police band always had a committment each summer to playing at the annual Govan Gala Day. I hope the tradition is still upheld.

My own primary school in Whiteinch on the north side of the river had ‘Govan School Board’ inscribed in sandstone on the frontage. It was only many years later that I discovered why.

I’m told there are over 100 judges signed up for the PPBSO judges seminar scheduled for this Saturday. All credit to the Ontario organisation’s new President Michael Grey for the initiaitve.

It will bring adjudicators around the world together for a day-long look at solo piping, pipe bands, ensemble and drumming. I suppose it could lead to some sort of universality in judging standards with various associations harmonising their processes. This would make a huge difference to judges travelling to overseas assignments.

Perhaps the RSPBA will now follow Mike’s lead and put their annual International Adudicator’s meeting online. Usually this is held during Worlds Week and is a great opportunity for band judges to meet and greet. You cannot beat the in-person interaction.

However, when you look at the numbers it is hard to get away from attraction of doing it online with the face to face meeting as an adjunct.

I spoke to Robert Mathieson, Secretary of the RSPBA Adjudicators Panel. ‘Nothing bad can come from what the PPBSO have organised and I am looking forward very much to Saturday’s get together,’ he said.

‘Our members have had two years of inactivity and this will be an opportunity to sharpen everyone up and anything that points the way towards global standards has to be a good thing.’

For more information contact Mike at president@ppbso.org.

Members of the Piobaireachd Society are in for another treat tonight with the latest of their ‘Talk Piobaireachd’ sessions. In the hot seat is Canada’a Jack Lee one of the outstanding pipers of his generation and a man respected throughout the world of piping.

‘Talk Piobaireachd’ lasts an hour and is always informative and entertaining. All members will have received their invite to the session which is on Zoom at 8pm BST (GMT+1). If you are not a member you can join here – £15 for adults and £5 for juniors and students.

Further to my recent talk on the ‘Legacy of the Macphersons’, Calum MacLean, Tobermory, Mull, has sent this: ‘I thought this might be of interest. You might know Malcolm Macpherson lived on Mull for a time and some of the Binneas recordings were done when he was here.

‘He worked on Treshnish Estate for Lady Jean Rankin and her husband Colonel Rankin. She was a lady in waiting to the Queen Mother. While he was here he ran piping classes in Dervaig Hall for the village kids.

‘A couple of locals remember getting lessons from him in the 1950s. They remember him playing Mrs Macpherson of Inveran to them, which he said was written for his mother.

‘He used to show them things then tell them to practice. He would then disappear to the Bellochroy Hotel for a dram and return later to see how they were getting on.

Angus Macpherson, Invershin, and his son Malcolm

‘Not a bad plan but I don’t think he would get away with doing that today. He wasn’t on Mull for very long and he became ill then moved away. So ended the kids piping lessons which was a shame.

‘If he had been able to stay for any length of time who knows the amount of piobaireachd that he might have passed on. Two wee things that are funny about this. I wonder if it was the Rankin piping connection that got him the job with Lady Jean?

‘And the Bellochroy was once run by one of the Rankin pipers, so Malcolm wasn’t the first piper to have a dram and a tune in there. Makes you wonder if fate had drawn him to Mull but also took him away.’

A fascinating piece of lore Calum and thank you very much for sharing.

I know a lot of pipers are golfers. They may be interested in this observation from reader Julien Payne: ‘I was watching The Masters Championship golf tournament today. I was struck by similarities of golf with piobaireachd (in addition to both activities originating in Scotland). These include:

1 To be a serious player both require great and continuous concentration.

2. Every stroke/note counts.

3. The player has to play hole by hole/variation by variation to get through to the end without messing up.

4. Both should be played outside.

5. And both are based on individual effort for which the individual is 100% responsible.

‘I hope that I will be a better piobaireachd player than I was a golfer with a handicap of 18 at my best point in time.’

1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: Govan Police/ PPBSO Judging Initiative/ ‘Talk Piob’/ Malcolm on Mull/ Piping and Golf

  1. Well done Michael Grey for taking the lead and arranging the adjudicators’ seminar. ’tis good to talk. I, and am sure many others, will be extremely interested in the gems that flow from the seminar

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