A photograph from 1983: a party at George Steele’s house [Strathclyde Police Pipe Band] in Glasgow.
Barry Ewen played in the band I played in at the time and knew George. With a party in the offing a taxi load of us headed over with tins of beer and bagpipes.
I clearly recall the thrill of finding the great Duncan Johnstone there, too. As you know, Duncan J was one of the greats of his time and leaves a fantastic legacy of brilliant tunes and a lot of great players thanks to his dedicated teaching (Roddy MacLeod immediately comes to mind).
I can remember taking my pipes apart in a furtive – and futile – attempt to reverse the drones (bass on the outside) so Duncan might play. Duncan was a “left-handed piper”; that is, he played his pipes under the right arm. Not common, but not uncommon for pipers of his time with roots in the Outer Hebrides. Duncan Johnstone’s family came from Barra.
Anyway, as you can see we were well in ceilidh mode and I ended up blowing the pipes while Duncan played with the chanter twisted in reverse. I recall him playing one of his great tunes, “Farewell to Nigg” and singing along at the same time. A really great memory.
It seems funny to me now that I would haul my pipes to a party – and to a party where I’d never met the host. No shortage of piss and vinegar in those days, I guess.
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