Trailing Drones
September 04, 2013

What gully-washer? Please pass the profiteroles.

In the aftermath of the World’s, punters are trying to assess the value and impact of the two-day event. Thanks to correspondent “Andy” who sent this photo of the queues at the Saturday World’s.

Andy remarks: “The queues outside the World’s at two o’clock prove the popularity of the two-day event – last year they were queuing down the street!”

There has been lots of talk about the lack of buzz on the Saturday, and how sparse and odd were the crowds, the empty stands, and the half-baked massed bands. Harry wonders how the real backbone measuring stick of the event – the chip and burger vans – made out on the weekend? I want to see receipts.

North American pipe bands – with the exception of rain-soaked SFU and Dowco-Triumph Street – must be a bit dismayed by the qualifier results. Harry thinks this is a hard time to bring a travelling show to Scotland. The early season championships are hard-fought contests between giants at the top of their game, and breaking that up for a place in the Final is going to be really tough while the overall level of play is so high.

Speaking of the World’s, the BBC and their grand broadcast might be good for those who aren’t there, but they really do spoil the big moment on Sunday, what with their cameras indiscreetly trained on Field Marshal Montgomery about ten feet from the band for about five minutes before the enigmatic Mr. Embelton “revealed” the winner. And then all that jumping aboot from FMM as if they were even surprised. It was all a bit much. Harry begrudges no band a hearty celebration, and if any band deserves to gi’e it laldy it’s Field Marshal. But someone really needs to educate the Beeb plebs that 1) they are not in the club, but they need to respect the customs of the club, and 2) try using one of them super-zoomy million-pound boom cameras to focus on the winner from afar. Really, the whole display might have looked nice on video, but for those who were there it was a joke.

More World’s commentary. Harry felt genuinely sorry for bands and judges who got soaked (with rain, that is) in some of the heaviest and most violent downpours seen at the contest for many years. This wasn’t the usual misty Scottish dreich; this was like stuff from an April gully-washer in Lubbock, Texas. The rain that Shotts & Dykehead survived was a once-an-epoch event. I don’t know what was harder for the band to do: focus on playing well or concentrate on not breaking down in laughter at the ridiculousness of the situation. I understand the stands were shaking and the patrons were afraid the whole thing might collapse in the insane wind.

Meanwhile, Harry was enjoying crashing the warm and sumptuous environs of the VIP building especially for RSPBA judges, staff and Glasgow dignitaries. Just how much does that impressive structure and those dainty sandwiches, luscious profiteroles and 12-year-old bevvy cost? Is this really a good use of members’ money? Why not put that money to offsetting the costs that the performers endure to entertain all those people?  The optics are revolting and, if they don’t watch it, the bands will be, too.

In other band news, Harry hears that a half-dozen or so pipers have recently left Alberta Caledonia to join the LA Scots “full-time,” or as full-time as you can be several thousand miles distant. Perhaps the handwriting was on the bathroom wall when the band took most of the summer off, but Harry hopes that Al-Cal is able to rebound. Not good for the scene.

A solid tradition in Highland piping has been the marriage of great pipers with products for sale. Going back to Donald MacDonald and Duncan MacDougall, many trophied pipers have put their playing reputation behind a product. Harry’s been thinking a bit on his own angle for this, and he’s working on the “Lahore MacDougall-Henderson-Lawrie” model of bagpipe, incorporating the best features of all three makes of pipes, with the distinctive finish of the best Lahore makers. Going to be a cracker. Too late to the market for this year’s big solo contests, but Harry’s looking forward to the Northern Meeting this year. Got the business cards and brochures at the ready.

The big band plays have all been made, and now the settling dust on the 2013 season is starting to show footprints heading out. Harry was sad to hear that Pipe-Major Terry Tully will no longer lead the O’Tooles. Terry’s leadership, musicality, vision and determined hard work have made SLOT a band to listen to since their days on the rise in Grade 2. Harry’s ever so grateful for all the music and fun Terry provided over the years. And that’s no joke.

Got your own products on the design table? Send Harry a wee note with details.




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