Anyone who knows me knows my parents are real collectors, especially of interesting old things. My dad ["William Grey" the hornpipe] in particular has an eye that is drawn to the old and quirky – like so many of our best piping judges. And usually his “quirky” finds translate to rarities and bargains galore.
He’s thinning out some of his vast collection of stuff (and who doesn’t have “stuff”!) using eBay, for the most part, to get it out there (btw, PayPal=rip-off, in case you didn’t already know).
Anyway, he’s put an item up this evening that is quite amazing, at least to me. Up for auction is a genuine miner’s canary cage, used for centuries by miners (until 1986 in the UK) to enable early detection of lethal gases. It wouldn’t be much of a life for the poor little yellow bird but a useful life in the extreme. My dad’s offering is nineteenth century vintage and there for the taking. It’s most interesting to me, I think, because it represents a really common saying: “like a canary in a coal mine“. And here we have that old expression fairly spring to flight.
To keep in line with usual blog blab I think I really have to tie this to a piping thingie. So, “a canary in a coal mine”: are there things in the piping and pipe band game that might be likened to canaries in coal mines? Early warnings?
Random, off the top of my big square head:
- Games and competitions disappearing
- A reduction in the number of bands – everywhere (especially in the higher grades)
- Continually low attendance at the annual general meetings of governing organizations – everywhere
- Pipe bands competing with rubber drum pad “covers”
I’m sure there are others. You’ll have your own thoughts, I know.
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