GS & Lawyers: King George Versus Army

April 15, 2021 on 4:48 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories | No Comments

A follow on – of sorts – to the David Glen and Peter Henderson court shenanigans of 1900. I happened on the attached clippings following my musings on Dave and Pete’s court tussle(I say “happened” but it was GS McLennan’s grandson who kindly passed along – I think he prefers anonymity but knowing the source is important provenance for these things. And, not just that, shines a light on the inspiring importance the family has always viewed G S McLennan’s legacy).
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Imagining Three Greats: Animating Ross, McLennan & MacDonald

March 6, 2021 on 1:30 pm by Michael Grey | In Audio File, Photographs, Solo Piping, Video | No Comments

There’s a famous photo generally available online and everywhere (I suppose that’s redundant) of three of the most famous pipers of the twentieth century – if not all time. The photo is a post-WWI study of Pipe Major William “Willie” Ross, George S McLennan and John MacDonald (Inverness). You’ll likely know, MacDonald almost always gets an “Inverness” plugged on to his name due to the popularity, to this day, of the combination of given and surnames. Though, truth be told, he isn’t the only John MacDonald to ever call Inverness his home. But to pipers everywhere, when the name appears with the marker “(Inverness)” we know precisely the man mentioned: one of the greatest exponents of piobaireachd, one who left a great musical legacy thanks to a hugely impactful lifelong teaching effort.
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To confer importance: John Ban MacKenzie

December 31, 2020 on 2:01 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on To confer importance: John Ban MacKenzie

Thanks to technology we’re all photographers. The mobile phone-cum-camera is everywhere. The late writer, Susan Sontag, famously wrote of the subject in her book On Photography (1977). I’ve talked about some of her ideas before but her cleverness stands repeating. She wrote that to photograph is to confer importance. I suppose importance is relative to the photographer and the person that observes the photographed subject. Your pic of your take-away boxed lunch of chicken tikka, pilau rice and Gulab Jamun is likely to mean much more to you than me. But, still, to be fair, a tasty lunch of colourful Indian treats has, for a time, an importance of sorts to any photographer and so there’s a ring – or, maybe, tinkle – of truth to Sontag’s words.
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An ardent epitaph

September 24, 2020 on 7:57 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on An ardent epitaph

I was recently part of a very small group of people who were lucky to have a private expert tour of a few choice corners of Bruce County, Ontario. Bruce County is Ontario’s largest county and – as the name might suggest – magnetic for many of the settlers of The Clearances – and even later. With verdant, rich arable land (well, after newcomers found their way to fell the massive trees, haul the stumps and clear the stones) the county is full of echoes of Scots and Irish immigration. Continue reading An ardent epitaph…

More Mississippi than Molendinar

October 18, 2019 on 5:27 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Music, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Score & Sound File, Whinges | Comments Off on More Mississippi than Molendinar

Hamish Henderson is generally acknowledged as the father of the Scottish folk revival. It was Henderson, poet, activist and folklorist – among other things – who is credited with coining the phrase “the carrying stream”.

Broadly, the carrying stream refers to the passing along of cultural tradition, especially words and music. The flow of the stream, any stream, is a tranquil image on its own. Even Heraclitus had something to say about it: no one ever steps in the same stream twice since it’s never the same stream – and they, with that step, are not the same person. Let the thought of that undulating water transporting a little culture and a lot of music, and the idea of the carrying stream and the forward movement of tradition becomes at once attractive – and easy to understand.
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A Line Up of Knees

October 10, 2019 on 7:08 am by Michael Grey | In Humour, Photographs | Comments Off on A Line Up of Knees

I was talking to John Walsh the other evening and learned – among other things – he had one brand new knee. It was last week in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia when his plastic patella was, er, planted. Like so many procedures of this kind there’s no shortage of discomfort in recovery.
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Ronnie Rollo: Folk Artist

February 13, 2019 on 8:05 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on Ronnie Rollo: Folk Artist

In a recent mid-winter clear-out of my house I found myself with a little extra wall-space. I also found a few things I’d forgotten. Anyone who knows me knows that walls were made for one thing: to hang stuff. When I was younger I used to move a lot. And here’s a Top Tip for the itinerant: I found that the fastest way to make a place feel like home is to nail to the wall a favourite photo, picture or poster (even before all boxes are unpacked). I say “nail”, I mean hang, as in hung. A well-hung picture makes any strange new place instantly more familiar.
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Performance Options

December 12, 2018 on 7:39 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Performance Options

A frequent topic of conversation in some pipe band, em, circles relates to performance options. For instance, is the three-pace roll start and march to centre field (where the band moves to centre stage and curtly turns their collective back to the audience) the best we can do? Except for the most change-averse, most interested in such things, I think, say a big “no”.
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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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“Let me take your picture”

November 30, 2017 on 7:14 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Stories | Comments Off on “Let me take your picture”

Here’s a classic example of one of those forced picture-taking moments (FPTMs). It’s not often anything good comes of it (see exhibit A below). Here, with my eldest sister, Jane (Campbell) is the 17 year-old me in my 48th Highlanders of Canada number ones (minus feather bonnet but still, with impressive head of hair, I must say … in those days it was always said to the barber, “just thin it out”).
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