Published: October 23, 2007

There was a sojourn, a Scottish sojourn

Amazement and fascination were what I always felt when I talked to James and Kylie MacHattie about their annual Scottish sojourn, pitching their tent across the Highlands, scrabbling for practice locations and cooking on a wee propane stove. The closest I’ve come to that is sleeping in a car a few times after a contest, and vowing never to have to do that again.

Much like bagpipes, when it comes to camping there are people who really like it and there are those who really dislike it, with not a lot of middle ground. James and Kylie obviously really like camping, so they probably view it as part of their yearly piping vacation. But I find it fascinating to compare their experience with that of neurotic pipers who have to have things just so before they compete: the right B&B, the same breakfast, a hot shower, practice-sessions timed to the second.

I’ve known a few pipers who had the wife carry their pipe-box (in the days before padded cases with shoulder-straps), and had her do the driving to the games so that their hands wouldn’t get tired. Seriously.

Musicians in general tend to be a precious lot. Ego, superstition, anxiety and inferiority abound. We read about it in the worlds of pop, rock and rap, and it’s all over the place in piping and drumming, too. I don’t know about you, but I find the MacHatties’ simple approach to their complex art refreshing.

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