Rumours on the Internets

June 30, 2008 on 8:32 pm by Michael Grey | In Stories, Whinges | Comments Off on Rumours on the Internets

You don’t have to be very old to remember the world before the Internet.  I think my first foray was around 1996 using a workplace account (for business purposes only, of course).  I imagine there’ll be loads of people in their late 20s who remember, even a little, a pre-Internet world. 

In the “piping world” today the ‘rid raw’ truth of the game is out there, front row centre, and almost immediately after it’s happened and has become an “Internet truth”.  Youtube, forums, web sites, email, text messaging, Blackberrys, have connected us all – or all those interested in being connected (and that’s a lot of us).  It has to be acknowledged, too, that for pipers and drummers, Andrew Berthoff’s web efforts have always been at the forefront.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, Eddie Gorman [I think the last still-competition-active member of Bob Hardie’s iconic “Muirheads & Sons Pipe Band“].  I had swung by his band’s practice, Peter Aumonier’s excellent Hamilton Police Pipe Band, just down the road from where I live, for a listen.  We got to talking about the impact the Internet has had on the dynamics of the piping world. 

“It’s taken all the mystery away”, he said.     

He’s right, I think.

Within moments of an event’s completion we now know competition results, judges, their officially detailed opinion, scandal, weather and and how many aunties and grannies in attendance – and more.  We have the punter’s anonymous opinion, often unhelpful (to put it mildly), from what I have seen, and a general explosion of instantaneous, sometimes painful, blab. 

It wasn’t so long ago Barry Ewen’s East Kilbride-based mum would record BBC Scotland’s Pipeline on a cassette recorder.  She’d dutifully pop the cassette in a padded envelope, trot off to the post office, and send to Barry in Ontario.  He’d then pass the recording on to others in the band (if we were lucky) and  we’d all – more or less – pronounce the performances pish – whether we meant it or not – and on we’d go.  Like pipers and drummers have always done.  The difference then comments were made long after a performance, kept within the band and hung in the air only long enough to be said and heard.   

I’m with Eddie.  I miss some of that mystery:  “I hear Shotts is playing 29 sides” … not so long ago who would know until someone local saw and heard them live?

That aside, I think the Internet has made pipe bands and piping a better place: we’re more in tune with each other, we know each other a bit better and because of that, have a little more empathy for each other’s struggles.

If we could only do away with anonymous, timorous Internet opinion.  A blog for another day.


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