A Banff Huff

January 31, 2021 on 5:21 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Pipe Bands, Pipe Tune Score | No Comments

It doesn’t matter if its parliament, a corporate board room, a church group or a pipe band, there’s at least one thing people have in common when they gather (oh, to gather): the huff. Huff is a funny sort of word. One syllable. It’s like one of those words that sounds like what it is – onomatopoeia. So huff, a mood of sulking anger, resentment.

I know I’ve had my share of huffs. And to be fair (to me, at least) I’ve been around loads of people who’ve taken the huff. In my experience, people almost always regret it. I have. But what can you do. Its people. “His huff arrived and he departed in it.” ~ Alexander Woollcott

I stumbled across an interesting article while reading the July 3, 1897 edition of the Aberdeen Journal and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland (as one does) and came across a fantastically huffy entry that I can’t resist sharing.

The article centres on a big-booted and well-known local cattleman, “Mr Longmore” of Baldavie estate and the seemingly hapless Banff Pipe Band. In a planning meeting for the annual cattle show – one where Mr Longmore’s cattle feature prominently – the subject of music for the occasion came up. Apparently the Banff Pipe Band – still in existence, by the way (clearly a resilient bunch) – skived off before the end of the town’s June “jubilee parade” and high-tailed to another gig; surely a canny group making hay as most any pipe band reasonably might. The jubilee parade in question would be one to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond anniversary: 60 years on the throne (think of the marks on your bottom that might leave).

Anyway, in “warm language” – a delightful euphemism – he “distinctly objected” (I’m hearing, “no fecking way”) to employing the band and insisted on a brass band. Well, the brass band that marched in the jubilee parade were evidently a throw-together bunch who borrowed their instruments and, well, were just not available for the cattle show.

Mr Longmore: “If you really wanted the brass band you could make it happen (my imagined words). He was firm that “if they took the Banff Pipe Band he would not show a beast”. One Mr Bredie seconded a motion to employ the brass band – just to “test the room”. The motion failed to pass with Mr Bredie the sole person in favour of the jingtinglers and trumtookas.

The committee voted for the Banff Pipe Band. Errant ways be damned (reminding me a little of the subject from south of the 49th parallel filling the airwaves this past week).

Faced with this sad reality, Mr Longmore of Baldavie rose from his seat (cue Alexander Woollcott) and made for the door. I can see a raised fist as he remarked on the way out, “if the pipe band was to be at the show he would be absent …” And SLAM went the door. Whoosh went the pipe band hater.

And so the Banff Pipe Band secured another gig.

“This was all the business.”

So much for the huff.

M.

I include a page from my “Damned Suites and Other Music” collection: “Huff”. I can’t recall who’s huff it was named for – but – like the word, the melody has, I think, a huffy vibe. Who doesn’t love a huffy vibe?

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