Published: June 30, 2007

Trailing Drones June 07

by Harry Tung

Helter skelter in a summer swelter. By jings it is hot just now on
my holiday in Malta. At my various homes around the world there are
57 varieties of weather, with pishingness in the Highlands,
broiling in Upper Canada and flooding in inland British Columbia.
What’s a poor scribe to do but tap the ether for scoop from my
various sources. Here’s what’s cooking and rinsing these days . . .

Now this is my idea of a pipe band raffle: the Hamilton
Police
were doing a draw not for your predictable bottle of
whisky or pipes or whatever. The prizes for the band’s June 30 draw
was for two fully stocked beer fridges. All the money goes to the
organization’s upcoming trip to the All-Ireland and the
World Championships.

This just in: performers still not to be compensated for
their work appearing on the various World’s recordings, as is legally required. Film at 11.

With the Scottish Lion-78th Fraser Highlanders having 40 (that ain’t no typo) pipers on the band’s
roster, and the band competing so far with about 27, I’m wondering
what’s going on. I mean, without a feeder band, I would get all the
members I could, too. But with the 2006 North American Pipe Band
Champion Toronto Police competing this year with eight
pipers I would think it really raises the question of whether there
should be some sort of a limit on numbers. I understand that the
RSPBA is looking closely at the situation. It is notable
that most UK Grade 1 bands have cut back a bit on the big pipe
sections. But at the British Championships I noticed that
the lower grade bands were smaller and there is a decline in the
overall number of Scottish bands competing. Anyway, the sight of
the equivalent of an entire section standing by watching as their
band competes without them is extraordinary. But everyone I know
who has seen this band compete with so many players seems thrilled
by the sight, so maybe there shouldn’t be a limit on numbers. It’s
the debate of the year, that’s fo sho!

Congratulations to Chris Armstrong and his wife who
just had a new baby. No, not his new collection of music, “Notes
Frae Ma Heid 2,” but a real live, bouncing baby girl. Piper (great
name!) Armstrong was born May 7 and is reportedly already working
on triple-high-A strikes. She has all the hereditary traits of her
dad, but rumours of evolutionary development and Piper having seven
fingers made of rubber on each hand were proven false.

Harry was tipped off by a reader about the growing number of
contests in Ontario that aren’t sanctioned by the PPBSO.
These smaller events, like those in Kingston and Spencerville seem
to get bigger every year and still go it alone, without the Ontario
Society coming in to run their piping and drumming contests. Then
again, I understand that this has always happened here and there in
Ontario, but people are noticing it’s happening more often now.
Variety is a good thing. It could be like the UK, which seemingly
does not allow any organization to hold a pipe band competition
unless it is through the RSPBA. What’s up with that?

Here’s a strange one: it appears that several pipe band
competitions in the eastern US are restricting entry to bands that
are members of the EUSPBA. That’s easy, you might well say,
since a band can just join that Association and compete. Not so
fast. These Sunday events are also restricted to bands in the
EUSPBA’s “geography,” meaning that bands from the Midwest, Ontario,
or anywhere else can’t compete. Allegedly the rationale is that it
will allow EUSPBA bands to gain Champion Supreme points. Sounds
like isolationism to me and not a very good way to measure the
standard in the region. The again, who really cares? But I can’t
believe that bands would support this rather artificial method of
determining “excellence.”

So, my venerable UK government is going to crack down on
sporrans that use animal skins. Badger, otter, and even the
albino mink sporrans that you often see worn by the Argyllshire
Gathering
gentry are a no-no, unless you can prove that they
were made before 1994. Fine can be six months in the big hoose or a
?5,000 fine! Wonder if this applies to the bearskin hats the Queen
presents to her ceremonial guards. Now, Harry’s sporran is made
from a poor fox that was bumped off the A28 by my 1963 Land Rover.
It even has the tyre tread-marks to prove it. Harry adheres to the
three Rs: Reduce, Re-use and Rely on people to send in scoop!

Mutterings on the matter of pipers and drummers from New Zealand
and Australia playing with more than one band through the year. It
goes like this: summer in the Antipodes is during the winter months
in the, um, Podes. That means in the off-season players might be
interested in competing with a band in the northern hemisphere.
They get “released” from their home band, and get on the roster of
the northern band, than, after the World’s, get “released” from
that band and return to their home band’s roster. There’s nothing
in any rules anywhere that indicates that this isn’t allowed but,
as I say, there are grumblings that a system is being fiddled in an
expected way. Disloyalty, thy name is pipe bands!

And one more salute on a birth: 78th Halifax P-M Roderick
MacLean
welcomed Tess Marie Joyanne MacLean April 18. Mum and
daughter are thriving, I’m told. Sheesh, maybe Armstrong and
MacLean should seriously consider joining Bready!


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dirt! Has your band made personnel changes? Seen a judge do
something untoward? Got a salacious story to tell?

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