Bag Maker Jim Launches Blistering Attack on Pipe Band and Solo Promoters – Readers React

Pipe bag maker James Begg has used his monthly newsletter to severely criticise the dearth of pipe band and solo piping events this summer.

Jim points to the thousands of people attending large sporting events in the UK, yet here in Scotland we cannot even put on an open air piping contest.

Jim says it is a ‘disgraceful outcome’ for piping and pipe bands.

He writes: ‘There were 66,000 football fans huddled together in Wembley Stadium which is 26k more than the last game. WHY? 

‘There are definitely double standards at play – not a mask in site with people cuddling and standing right next to each other. I like football as much as piping and my gripe has nothing to do with the result, although we always like to wish the English team all the best!

Jimmy Begg

‘The point I’m driving at is why can we not have Highland games with a fraction of the crowds? Even the Worlds at times hardly get to 30k although some imply higher figures.

‘We have a great open space at Glasgow Green with lots of possible spacing. We are hardly even allowed to walk about with a beer as opposed to the tv watching fan zones. Surely it’s totally wrong.

‘I’m sure some smaller games will disappear next year. Even if they had a small reduced event it would have kept things ticking over. A little support from the so called Scottish supporting government would have been enough. We are talking a miniscule amount of support really.

‘Whilst of course travel by bands and solo pipers on an international basis is badly curtailed, we could and should have done something on the domestic front rather than taking the easy way out and cancelling everything out of sight.

‘Check out the forthcoming F1 at Silverstone – 140,000 expected – and we can’t even manage a few hundred here and there in the great Scottish outdoors. It’s a disgraceful outcome for piping and pipe bands.’

  • Do you agree with Jim? Please comment below.

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15 thoughts on “Bag Maker Jim Launches Blistering Attack on Pipe Band and Solo Promoters – Readers React

  1. Hi Rab
    Interesting to see the strength of feeling about the lack of live piping events. A unanimous agreement amongst the contributors. The newsletter is free at home page. Started 2007 so going strong. Excuse the plug. Best Wishes and trust you well.
    Jim Begg

  2. As a retired piper and follower of piping for years I totally support jim’s views. The competitions need to start again!

  3. Totally agree with Jim and Neil Clark makes a brilliant point! The Scottish government are a total disgrace in this respect pre and post pandemic. Something needs done before its too late!

  4. Yes, the RSPBA did cancel the Worlds but surely it must have been as a result of Scottish Government guidelines/legislation. Cancellation is not a decision that would have been taken without this having been taken into consideration. After all, why would they want to risk the possibility of a heavy fine or worse?
    I know of at least one major music event where the promoters have cancelled solely due to the lack of guidance and foresight of the Scottish Government. Their events in England are scheduled to go ahead. Says it all if you ask me?

  5. I totally agree with Neil Clark’s post above, being totally responsible for cancelling events, nothing else! It is up to the responsible bodies to control what is safe and what is unsafe and up to the present, has been doing a good job. Comparing the situation with idiocy or being narrow-minded, is not the answer, There are other groups in the same position. Patience is and we still require much more before we are safe.

  6. What mystifies me is I don’t remember seeing anywhere that piping WAS banned, it was the mass gathering thing. Which obviously never applied to football. But please, enlighten me. Where has it been stated specifically that pipe bands will not perform/gather? I think we are singling ourselves out for specific rules which have never been stated in the first place. And I also believe the bottom line is money. Piping doesn’t generate as much as football. If it did, we’d be on the Green in August. The Scottish Government didn’t cancel the Worlds, the RSPBA did.

  7. I fully agree with Jim. Cancelling piping across the board was a debatable action. I have played solo at funerals and small fame birthday parties during the lockdown but have always been about 30 yards from everyone else They can still hear me OK but my social distancing was maintained. At the ‘Trooping of the Colour’ pipers and drummers held social distancing and were allowed to play. Civilian bands could have done the same at Highland gatherings even if just to keep the playing going by static performances. Some serious thought was required but obviously missing in this case.

  8. I share the same feeling with Mr Begg, not only from a perspective of Covid-19, but also from a perspective of political environment. In Hong Kong, the virus stops all piping parties since early 2020, and now there is only a few groups back to practicing in confined space, risking the penalty of ‘group-gathering of more than four persons’ of HK$5,000 (=£450).
    Much more than that, the recent political discrepancy between China and the western world has stopped the pipes of uniform groups from playing the traditional tunes.
    It is always said that music is an international language, but why someone have refrained from accepting Highland bagpipe tunes.
    Anyway, all pipers & drummers worldwide, let’s keep the circle tight.

  9. Agree 100%. I was sickened watching over 60,000 football fans at Wembley, all in extremely close proximity, who were singing, shouting, and hugging each other at the England result. Here in Scotland, we can’t hold a small Highland Games or a pipe band contest in which crowd management would be 100x safer than in a football stadium. It’s a shocking example of double standards. Covid and variants are going to be with us for a very long time according to the experts, so either we stay in permanent lockdown or we get back to some degree of normality, in the knowledge that there is a high degree of protection from the vaccination programme.

  10. Totally agree. Even if we couldn’t have majors some wee Highland Games would make all the difference. I’m sure there is plenty of room at Battery Park or the playing fields at Helensburgh!

    1. I think it’s disgusting. One set of rules for sports events etc, but a completely different set of rules for our piping world.

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