April 23, 2019

Grease, salt, practice, tablets and Bru: hangover remedies from some of the best

It was a great weekend of competition, hopefully successful, but maybe some learning-experience failure. It was all fun friendship and and most likely not a little partying.

You know what they say: win or lose, hit the booze.

With the piping and drumming season approaching for most of the world, it’s inevitable that there will be a certain amount of drinking going on. We don’t condone excessive use of alcohol. Far from it. Everything in moderation.

For many, few things beat an icy cold beer on a sweltering day in Kentucky, Ontario or, increasingly, British Columbia, so a fair share of pints will be imbibed. Beertents even heave in the pouring rain from Stormont to Dumbarton.

But what of the consequences? We might feel great ingesting mass quantities (again, very occasionally), but inevitabilities of the day after are somehow willfully forgotten, and then all-too-remembered when reality hits the head at 8 am.

Books have been written on hangover cures, but it occurs to us that we pipers and drummers might have some custom tried-and-tested remedies. So, we sought out a few leading lights, pipers and drummers who might have seen their share of, erm, festivities.

pipes|drums makes no claim as to the efficacy of any of these. You’re own your own, there. The best remedy is not to drink to excess.

Gordon Brown, lead-drummer of Grade 1 Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia, and a 40-year veteran of not a few championship victories, says, “I would recommend a good Scottish fry-up and a can of Irn Bru. Works for me.”

A tried and tested uniquely Scottish combination.

Indeed, the Scottish “fry-up” contains the salt and grease that the body seems to crave. The fried eggs, salty sausages, rashers of sodium-drenched bacon, and, strange as they are to many North American, baked beans and grilled tomatoes, there’s hardly anything more intrinsically Scottish this side of haggis. Topped off with Scotland’s national non-alcoholic beverage and you could be on the straight-and-narrow that much faster after rolling out of your fart-sack.

Irn Bru also features in Jenny Hazzard‘s best hangover remedy recommendation, followed of course by sure-fire avoidance by abstention.

“Prevention is better than cure!” she says. No more than four pints of beer – a lesson I am still working on (not that successfully) even at this stage of life.”

With that reality in mind, the one-time resident of piping and drumming scenes in her native Ontario and, during her graduate university years, British Columbia, and for the last 20 years, Scotland and Northern Ireland’s band and solo circuits, leans towards a salty Irn Bru cure. Her band, Field Marshal Montgomery, is known to celebrate the odd (read: regular) championship win.

“If the ship has sailed on prevention, then my best suggestion for a cure is full-fat Irn Bru and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, the old school straightforward Walker’s kind of ones, none of these fancy sea salt and malt vinegar hard crunchy hand-cooked things. My mum was spotted re-entering the band hotel at about 11 the morning after the worlds, carrying exactly this cargo. Jonathan Greenlees texted me to say, ‘Irn Bru and salt & vinegar – that bad, eh??’ ”

And Hazzard is not ashamed to admit deviating from the familiar – anything to reduce a fat head.

“If really bad – and I know this is disgusting – a can of Heinz ravioli – that really super-soft/squidgy pasta filled with indistinguishable ‘meat’ and covered in what I think is the same kind of tomato sauce the baked beans come in. It’s so rank, but for some reason in that state it is very comforting. As long as no one else is around to witness its consumption.”

She shares a secret tip, known to some who regularly make the trek from the Central Belt of Scotland to the Glenfiddich Invitational in Blair Atholl in the glorious Perthshire autumn.

“A geographically-restricted cure for the journey home from the Glenfiddich weekend: a full fry-up at Ballinluig Services off the A9 south of Pitlochry. Including fried bread. Magic.”

Similarly, Don Bradford, pipe-major of the Grade 1 Lomond & Clyde Pipe Band of Glasgow, starts with an ounce of avoidance or moderation being worth a pound of cure.

Get yours on Sauchiehall Street on the first day of Piping Live! while supplies last.

“Don’t drink is the best hangover cure!” he says, before recommending his go-to fixative of “Recovery Effervescent Powder” available from the Boots chain of chemists (drugstores to North Americans). Bradford stresses that this “should be taken before you go to sleep and not the morning after, works best.”

Another Grade 1 pipe-major, Stewart McKenzie of New Zealand’s Manawatu Scottish, is also a proponent of dealing with the issue before it is one, by remembering to address it before turning in.

“Ice-cream before bed – lots of it,” McKenzie says. “Works like magic, I don’t know how.”

Perhaps the fatty calorie ice-cream overload leads him to his next recommendation: “A decent run in the morning. The increased blood flow can work wonders.”

Such a thought of exercise with a pounding head might be completely abhorrent to some, or even most pipers and drummers, but we have actually witnessed at least one other piper who enjoys partying and exercise in equal measure.

There are rare instances of super-humans who simply don’t experience hangovers, regardless of how much alcohol they consume.

“Maybe I’m one of the fortunate people in this world, however, I rarely have a hangover no matter how much I drink!” says Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders lead-drummer Drew Duthart. “However, a good three-hour rehearsal the week of the World’s in Kelvingrove Park usually straightens those that have been over indulging in the evil drink!”

Duthart admits, though, that a little hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you doesn’t go amiss in certain morning-after situations.

“If I do have a hangover, I usually have a beer after 11 o’clock (somewhere in the world), and that usual delays the inevitable.”

Willie McCallum, one of the greatest competitors in the history of the Highland pipe, has had not a few reasons to celebrate in his long career.

Perhaps not surprising, his cure: “Having a tune on the pipes works really well as it gets the system going,” is his go-to fix, in line with his supernatural ability to concentrate at a whole different level. But, he, too, isn’t infallible. “Otherwise, soda water and paracetemol” he admits can hasten recovery.

Again, we don’t condone excessive drinking, but we do endorse having a frickin’ good time in moderation, with or without a drink or two.

Perhaps these pro tips will help set you on your feet again the next time you toast that victory or drown your defeat.

What are your best remedies for over-indulging? Be sure to use our Comments feature to add your two measures worth!


Related articles

Editorial: Welcome to the weed tent
June 21, 2018


#TBT: “The Winter of Our Discontent”
January 21, 2016


Editorial: A fine thing, chance
March 5, 2010





Forgotten Password?