I rather like what Alfred Hitchcock had to say about these loathsome, so-called musical instruments: “These are bagpipes. I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made sound never equalled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig.”
Perhaps I should feel a bit ashamed about my detestation of the ‘noise’ evoked by these ‘skirling’ (does anything else ‘skirl’ other than pipes? I honestly don’t know) items of a big bladder and a bunch of sticky-out things, one of which is fingered and the other which is blown. And no lewd comments, if you please.
I should be ashamed because one-quarter of me is Scottish and my Edinburgh-born Gran is probably cursing me from the depths of her Presbyterian invective. But, I still cannot find cause to like the things.
I like other elements of Scotland like Scotch eggs, Scotch tape, Scotch thistles, Billy Connolly, Captain Kidd and there was a time when my raptures over single-malt whisky got too rapturous, which is why I consume it nae more.
And my favorite Scottish dialect line from Alec Guinness in one of my favorite films of all time, Tunes of Glory (which does contain a surfeit of pipes but it’s at Edinburgh Castle, so it’s excused) in which his foulmouthed Sergeant Major and acting commander indicts a young officer who is wimpily smoking a cigarette at the mess one boozy evening:
“If ye’re goin’ to smoke that cigarette, smoke it like a mon, not like a wee lassie.”
You had to be there.
Oh, I should also mention that I was once invited to give the Immortal Memory at a Legion Burns Night once upon the time, and I had to do it in dialect, and I didn’t do sae bodly. So, if you think my diatribe about the pipes comes from anti-Scottish bias, you would be wrong.
The reason for this screed is because there is a huge (much too huge, in my esteem) baseball tournament going on at Aspen Park across the street this weekend. I’ll reserve comment on my feelings about that situation, and that’s mainly because I like baseball – but not across my damn street if that can be helped.
Anyway, they seem to have had some sort of opening ceremony last evening and I couldn’t believe it: Out came the Goddamned pipes! Why? What in coition have bagpipes to do with baseball and why did all the good people who live around here have to be (much less than) charmed by a sound originating north of the Clyde, not at Cooperstown.
Hopefully they’re not planning on a repeat this evening or there might be gunplay.