A little tartan colour and a bonnie balmoral

October 16, 2018 on 5:32 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | No Comments

It would be hard to argue that the Scots have not punched above their weight in leaving a bold mark on the world. Given the relative size of the country it’s inspiring to think of the remarkable contributions Scotland has given humanity. Golf, whisky and bagpipes aside, con- sider the telephone, TV, the threshing machine, Adam Smith, Ishbel MacAskill, Robert Burns and chicken tikka masala. Historian Arthur Herman underscored the Scottish impact in publishing his popular book, How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It (2001).
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Prepare for an emergency landing!

August 24, 2018 on 5:05 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Stories | Comments Off on Prepare for an emergency landing!

NO matter how often I cross the Atlantic, I always pause to marvel at the awesome speediness of aviation. Even without supersonic Concorde engineering, the Atlantic can still be crossed in single-digit hours on a 10-a-penny Airbus or Boeing.
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A Signature Book of Signatures

May 30, 2018 on 9:03 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Photographs, Stories | Comments Off on A Signature Book of Signatures

That which is used – develops. That which is not used wastes away. Such was the opinion of Hippocrates, Greek physician and huge figure in the history of medicine. He might’ve said, use it or lose it – so much more meme-friendly – but his considered opinion of over 2000 years ago holds true today. The great golfer, Sam Snead said practice puts brains in your muscles. He’d know. His record of over 80 championships didn’t happen by chance. We know idle muscles shift to flab, or, at least become weak. Unpracticed skills fall away.
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What is Traditional Music? [hint: It’s big. It’s bouncy. And it’s spectacular.]

March 13, 2018 on 5:31 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Music, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on What is Traditional Music? [hint: It’s big. It’s bouncy. And it’s spectacular.]

I think it was this past January when it came to me. It was one of those crisp, cloudless and cold sunny days, a kind of winter’s day so familiar to those of us who live in my part of the world. The sky was screaming an indescribable deep blue. And why? Why blue? A short simple question – surely the archetypal young child’s question, one asked just as a glimmer of awareness of the world beyond the back garden begins to show itself. Blue sky? Something to do with refracting light, I thought. Why blue? And this blue? Um, the temperature. Yes, it is the cold temperature and the universal prism…
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Just one more cycle of Minecraft

December 19, 2017 on 10:49 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | Comments Off on Just one more cycle of Minecraft

The late Cape Breton writer Alistair MacLeod (No Great Mischief ) spent a lot of time teaching his art. One technique he was known to use was to write the final line or two of his story at – or near – the start of most any writing effort. This finish line, resolution, story-ending – call it what you want – would tie a figurative bow on any story and stand as a beacon to the way the story would ebb and flow. The early composition of his closing words would effectively guide him as he made his way through a story’s telling.
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The more you know the more you don’t know

October 19, 2017 on 4:43 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on The more you know the more you don’t know

I’d like to think that I’ve lived long enough to have a pretty good idea of who I am. My collective experience, adventures and the winding road that has marked the path of my life have – so far – given me some understanding of the world around me. And, of course, while our paths may differ, as might our ages, I suggest you’re no different. It’s this sense of perspective, a way of seeing the world that is driven by how each of our lives are lived – and this all goes to help create a personal narrative – our “story”. How we see ourselves helps us interpret and make sense of stuff that happens to – and around us.
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A stomach full of hyper-caffeinated butterflies

August 10, 2017 on 3:14 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on A stomach full of hyper-caffeinated butterflies

Every June in the town where I live there’s staged something called Buskerfest. It’s pretty much what you’d expect: a festival of street performers. The whole of the main drag in town is taken over by a good cross-section of the busking world – and, yes – it seems there is a “busking world”, with events like the one in my town happening all over the world almost every day. The hardcore of the talent seemingly travel the world’s circuit of busker gatherings (sound familiar?) swallowing their knives and blowing fire out their bahookies at the drop of a hat. Almost literally.
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The collateral damage of nice

June 16, 2017 on 6:13 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | Comments Off on The collateral damage of nice

To be clear and direct in communicating – getting across what you really feel to your fellow person – must surely be one of the rarest of human traits. In my experience, it’s the norm for people to often do whatever can be done to avoid saying what might be said in the most concise and unvarnished of ways. In our use of words, in our lexicon, we’ve even invented a special category for words that are indistinct, words that soften the impact of a purer, more literal alternative. We have the euphemism.

Death and dying are taboo discussion subjects in much of the world. Rather than to die or to have died you’ll know it’s much better to have “passed away”. To have passed away must be among one of our most common euphemisms. Like quietly leaving a big party, easing away from a large dinner table or fading from sight at the end of a long road, people just “pass away”. So much nicer to think of death that way, isn’t it?
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Damn you short attention spans

April 3, 2017 on 7:48 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Stories | Comments Off on Damn you short attention spans

“It was the moon on nights like this, it was nights like this, it was the wind as it pawed at you or cried as it approached, the sound of the river, the clotted stars against the dark sky, the way a horse will snort at the sight of you, the way pine needles seemed to rust as they died. It was too much to be named. It was all that could not be taken away until it was taken away at last. It was given before you knew what to make of it and taken before you’d had a chance to understand its extent and beauty.”

These words by writer André Alexis come from a short story of his – “On Such a Night” – published last week in Canada’s Globe & Mail. These beautiful words especially resonate; they passed through my screen only a couple of days after the passing of my old friend and mentor, Reay Mackay. The last line, in particular, stays with me and has caused me to reflect. Unless you’re a Buddhist monk or of that rare ilk – of the deeply thoughtful and self-aware – the norm, surely, is for us to not savour and appreciate the present.
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Humblebragging, narcissism, neediness and sanctimony

January 27, 2017 on 11:04 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | Comments Off on Humblebragging, narcissism, neediness and sanctimony

ANYONE that uses Facebook will know that from time to time there are interesting bits of information that break through the often unfiltered cringe-making that is the backbone of social media. And so it was last week, smashing through a sea of humblebragging, narcissism, neediness and sanctimony (and pictures of food) – some likely of my own making – came Helen Keller. Her name is one from days gone by but like most great examples of humanity, Keller’s, I think, is one still generally known.
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