By Harry Tung
Hey-ho, hey-ho, it’s off to play I go . . . let’s see what’s in Harry’s mailbag in the post with the most, and remember, dear readers, this is satire . . .
It was just a couple of weeks ago, Henrietta was tucking into the latest ad-heavy RSPBA Magazine to read the cover story on Jim Kilpatrick MBE, only to discover that, despite his photo being spread large on the cover, there was no actual story about His Jimness. He did get a wee mention in an article on drumming, but no cover story. She was some riled. Even the RSPBA can be into the click bait scene. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT JIM KILPATRICK . . . <click> . . . <disappointment> I understand that KP himself was never even contacted about the article. Never knew about. Never saw it until someone asked him about it. “I tell ye,” Henrietta says, “they bring it own theirsel’s.”
Followers of the Scottish solo piping scene were a little surprised to see the late withdrawal from the Uist & Barra contest of two of the current top competitors in the World. Canny readers of this mag will perhaps have done the math on the last-minute announcement of the judging panel, followed by the withdrawals. These two players, each a winner of an event at this year’s Glenfiddich Championship, must have had very good reasons. And then afterwards things really make it clear that the right decisions were made and it’s right to take a stand. Vote with your feet. It’s amazing that more players don’t follow and vote with their feet. And where is the Competing Pipers Association when you need them? What about the judge’s associations and their codes of conduct? Sweep it under the rug! Keep sweeping! Unbecoming, indeed.
Harry always liked to play “The Burning of the Piper’s Hut” as a warm-up, tune, but wasn’t so keen on the real thing. The RSPBA‘s Washington Street HQ in Glasgow went ablaze in the early hours of March 10th, and we’re led to believe it was not “A Flame of Wrath,” but reportedly a Victorian era heating system gone wrong. Thankfully no one was hurt, and things will be rebuilt. “Not the first time the RSPBA got their wires crossed,” quips Henrietta in the background. Wonder if the heating system was up to code. I hope the insurance covers it, and that the parent organization won’t have to borrow from the branches.
Not-so-subtle are the indications of financial trouble in Pipe Bands Australia. Holy Financial Irregularities, Batman! The money is flaying out the back end of those associations like the chicken vindaloo out of Harry after a Rose Street pub crawl. How do people get so sloppy? Okay, Rose Street sloppy Harry knows, but financial sloppy with other people’s money? Pipe band associations, Highland games and events in various places have experienced this, as pipe band folk are too willing to place our cash and trust in seemingly hard-working volunteers. The problem is that pipe bands, contests and associations are not small change operations anymore. Gone are the days when you raised our summer bus money by selling candy and pop to the band kids at winter practices, or where a bake sale was all that was standing between you and the big contest on the summer. The money it takes to do all this is now large, and Harry suggests all associations need to have a keen looking at financial practices and accountability. Ask questions, peeps. If you don’t get straight answers, demand them, and, if you are bullied or made to be afraid to criticize fairly anything about your association – like judges, or accounting, or any decisions made on your behalf as a competitor – there is good reason to be concerned. The money being used is your money. Executives and directors represent you. They are accountable to you. Be fair but be vigilant. Ask questions. Get answers.
On that subject, Harry’s looking forward to hearing the end result of the “Live Back In Ireland” finances. 1,200-plus punters at £25 a head is a cool £30K. After the costs are tallied, there should be a nice bit of dosh there for pipe band development in NI. Maybe they can help with roof repairs at 45 Washington Street? Or maybe there’s a building in their future? One thing they won’t be financing is the Spring Gatherin’, which was pulled from the calendar without warning, after the agency supporting the venue rental pulled out. Harry smells the deep manure pile of toxic personal politics. Ask questions. Get answers.
“Why can’t they get along and have some fun?” queries Henrietta, and she finishes the top of my new wool socks for this year’s games. Harry’s gone Highland. He’s going with the saffrony/vomit yellow hose with the green/burnt red tops. They weren’t done in time for the NZ Championships, so we elected to watch the Livestream. Imagine the disappointment of the various UK and North American players who travelled to Kiwiland, only to play in a Glasgow-like downpour. Well, sometimes you just can’t beat a tune in the rain!
Speaking of tunes in the rain (*and snow), the off-again-on-again Canmore Highland Games is on, with a new committee and community support. Now all they need is great weather. In the mountains. In September . . .
And all Harry needs is your emails with scoop on what’s shaking in your corner of the pipe band light-up dance floor. He promises to keep your identity confidential and anonymous. Fire away!