January 25th, 2012
The letter this week is bountiful B
and considering the date, how many people will choose the Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns, whose birth date was the 25th of January, 1759. Well, I will tip my bonnet to him, beribboned and tucked with heather, and choose instead another Scottish B - the Bagpipe.
We have Pipers scattered through our family, - David was a Pipe Major and his band piped him out of the church with his lovely bride on their wedding day.....
His grandsons played the pipes and drums and entertained the neighbourhood when they came to visit us.
And here, as they prepared to play at their grandfather's funeral reception.
One of his mentors, Harry Lunan, was the last surviving piper to have played in battle during World War 1 before his death in 1994.
Harry Lunan joined the Gordon Highlanders in 1913 as a piper, for which he received one penny a day extra pay. He took part in the horrendous Battle of the Somme in 1916. At the attack on Highwood, armed only with his bagpipe, he led a suicidal charge into machine gun fire, playing his comrades into attack with Cock o' the North.
"I just played whatever came in to my head, but I was worried about tripping on the uneven ground, which interrupted my playing" he says in an interview that appears on the cover of a CD dedicated to him. (The Last Piper)
Harry Lunan's daughter lived one street over from us when we moved from the farm, but before that the family came from the small town in Alberta where my sister lived with her piper husband.
And then there are my cousins who moved to California and celebrate the Thompson clan with great enthusiasm. My first cousin, with the beard and the big drum and what looks like a pith helmet!!
A Brae, Bright Scottish quartet...even without the bagpipes
The family has their serious side as well. Glen Thompson, whose picture heads this post, is a well known piper and piping teacher.
When he was fifteen he went to Scotland to study with Duncan Johnstone at the College of Piping, in Glasgow. To finance this journed he became the featured piper of the loch Ness Pub in old town Pasadena,
playing there every weekend during his sophomore year in high school.
In 1998 Glen took over the Cabar Feidh Pipe Band as Pipe Major. He has appeared in
many movies and is heavily involved with the Clan Fraser,
having played the pipes as the guest of Lord Lovat at many occasions.
Although his background is in competition they say Glen is at his best when entertaining a crowd.
I, alas, have never heard him play, and I do so love the pipes.
Charles is non-committal and rolls his eyes.
For more great B's visit here at ABC Wednesday and see what Mrs. Nesbitt and her Blessed
helpers have to offer.