Glasgow air

Over for the World’s was the first time in years that I’d spent more than a few hours in Glasgow. The place holds true as a grimy and polluted place. A few things struck me:

Red lights. Glasgow could be a lot less smoggy if it changed the wait-time for cars at red lights. I mean, you sit there for three, even four, minutes at some intersection waiting for the light to change. Most cities you can get ticketed for letting your car idle for more than three minutes. Edinburgh has the standard two minutes. No wonder everyone’s wheezing.

Bike lanes. There are  bike lanes everywhere in Glasgow, but no one seems to use them. Maybe it’s because they’re about a foot wide and run along glass-strewn, puke-splashed gutters. Besides, who wants to be stuck at red lights inhaling car exhaust growing old waiting for the thing to change?

Auberge de whoozits. Seems like every other eatery has some ersatz Italian or French name, where coffees cost three pounds and your best Troy reed. Give it up. It ain’t Milan, it’s Glasgow.

Zombies. Dawn of the Dead is just a movie, but Friday and Saturday nights Glasgow city centre is like the real thing. People are so stinking and violently pissed out of their heads it’s hard to tell if they’re of the same species. Everyone seems to be chucking booze down their hatch as if an a-bomb is headed for Buchanan Street.

But, really, it’s a lovely city.


Good faith no more?

We pipers and drummers work on good faith and trust most of the time. We trust judges to render decisions that are unbiased and ethical. In good faith we give our money to our association so that it will do the right things for us. We trust manufacturers and dealers to deliver the goods that we usually have to pay for up front.

Pipers and drummers don’t screw other pipers and drummers.

So when a large supplier of piping and drumming supplies goes under, taking with it lots of debts not just to major manufacturers but to ordinary pipers and drummers — 100 pounds here, 100 pounds there — it diminishes our faith and trust in our fellow pipers and drummers. Our small world starts to operate in big-world terms, where everything is a business, and everyone is suspicious of everything.

Reputable organizations get dragged down by it. We become even more skeptical and suspicious of each other.

I’ve said for ages that piping and drumming is big business, with lots of money at stake. Previously, it’s been buyer beware when non-pipers and drummers are merchandising our music and culture. I still thought that pipers and drummers could still get through by using our trust and good faith in our fellow pipers and drummers.

We’re in this – whatever it is – together. It’s too bad that our trust in each other has been suddenly eroded.


Jottings from GLA

A fantastic day at the World’s yesterday. The Grade 1 standard was extremely high. The day stayed mostly dry after a wet start, the beer tents were well-stocked, and the results came out quickly.

There are tons of things to talk about, but, for now, here are a few stand-out items:

  • SFU’s medley. This was I think the best contest performance that I’ve ever heard from a pipe band. The overall band sound was unreal, and the band’s rendition of Mark Saul’s “Emancipation” was a visual and aural treat. Brill. Ee. Ant.

  • Manawatu’s pipe section. Some of the best pipe band moments are hearing a band that you have modest expectations from, and then end up super-impressed when you actually hear them. A crystal-clear, perfectly-set sound in three performances got my attention. I wasn’t as close as the judges, but I’m pretty sure that I would have scored them higher in piping all three events.

  • Ballycoan: see above. This is an extremely good band that seems to have all the marks of a young FMM. Sound to spare.

  • The growing internationalism of the World’s. Bands from Spain, Oman, and Pakistan were there just to be a part of it. This lends a real festive aspect to the event.

  • The Grade 1 qualifier. This was a very low-energy event. Lots of very careful playing, and bands seemed to be going through the motions. With the exception of Dysart’s “Leaving Lunga,” it was pretty much the same old hoary band-chestnuts being trotted out, including umpteen “Blair Drummond”s. It would seem to make a lot more sense for everyone to make this a medley.

  • Connectivity. Ironic that I can get the results posted as they’re announced when I’m 3000 miles away, but being right there there was too much “noise” (or something) to get a wireless connection to the net, somethign that had worked great all week. Sorry, readers, I tried.
  • I’ll be back with more scribblings later.