By the left ...
June 30, 2012

It’s just what (abnormal) people do . . . innit?

. . . the competitor in question knew he wouldn’t have to queue for an hour for the loo once he was finished his tune.

Service with a smile. I thought I would do the piobaireachd judges a good turn (one of them being my husband) and offered to get them a coffee at the start of the day. I went to one of the food vans, equipped with my thermal travel mug, and asked for three coffees. Proffering the travel mug, I said, “Three including one in this mug please.” The woman in the van set about preparing the coffees, and soon produced three paper cups and my filled mug. Her colleague said, “It was only meant to be three,” to which she replied, “Aye, three including the thermal mug.” There was an awkward pause as we all looked at the four coffees sitting on the counter. “Three including this one,” I said as gently as I could. It was somewhat remarkable how long it took to figure it out, but she did in the end, and with excellent humour she said, “Bloody hell that’s me with one customer. If I have to deal with more than one at a time it’ll be carnage!”

Piping gods. All competitors were pleased to see a good, old-fashioned diesel generator placed strategically within 10 metres of each of the piobaireachd and light music platforms – not quite the right pitch for tuning the bass drone to, unfortunately. The operators of the one nearest the piobaireachd platform had considerable difficulty starting it up and at one point looked ready to give in. We thought this was a sign that the piping gods were being kind. Perhaps Pipe-Major Angus MacDonald was up there pointing down at the generator and, with a laugh, causing it to fail. Unfortunately even he was overcome and the generator eventually sprang to life. Even better, for the rest of the day it conveniently stopped every 10 minutes or so, just to ensure that, although the piper couldn’t really hope to get his/her drones in perfect tune due to the racket, in the ensuing relative silence (inevitably near the end of the tune) everyone could have a good clear listen to them!

Random silly occurrences:

A car alarm going off during Alasdair Henderson’s piobaireachd – Colin (judging) realising it was ours, and hastily pushing buttons on the key ring until it stopped.


Jamie Forrester spending five minutes breaking off low-hanging tree branches over the piobaireachd platform at the start of the day, to avoid accidental drone-stopping incidents (which had actually happened in the past).


An inexplicably angry and aggressive junior piper demanding of a group of us, “When’s the draw?” then sulking off when told it had already been. The same boy, six hours later, bursting into the same group of pipers to grunt, with similar directness, “When’s the prize-giving?” just for his wee friend to quip, with perfect timing, “It doesn’t matter you’re no gettin’ a prize anyway.”


Seeing a young piper enthusiastically tapping his foot throughout his crunluath variations – not just on each crunluath movement, but four times for each movement.


One piper’s excellent response when asked if he was pleased with his piobaireachd performance: “Aye it’s the first time this year I’ve got through it without f***ing it up, so I’m pleased!”


Talking about Scotland’s relative indifference to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, but also noting the rather pleasing humour in how, in a global climate of civil wars and terrorism and catastrophic economic collapse, Britain responds with a bloody great knees-up, a thousand boats on the Thames, and a hearty helping of Pimm’s.

So that’s it for this edition, but on the topic of the Jubilee, I saw a good news clip of people being interviewed about having camped out all night, in the driving rain, on the banks of the Thames to get the best view of the flotilla on Sunday. One woman in a Union Jack bowler hat said, “Well, it’s just what you do, innit?” Then she cackled and said, “Well, it’s what abnormal people do.”

And after another classic day at a Scottish Highland games, seeing friends I hadn’t seen in too long, listening to great music and having a proper good laugh despite generators, car alarms, ill-timed toilet delivery and narrowly avoided hypothermia, I thought, “Well, yes. I agree entirely.”

Jenny Hazzard has been known to partake in the occasional Pimm’s, but is more likely to be seen enjoying a pint after the games. She competes at the highest levels of solo piping, and has the Northern Meeting Silver Medal to her credit, among many other awards. A native of Toronto, she lives in Edinburgh and works in environmental geological engineering.




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