------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
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Dear Piping Enthusiast,
We are well into the New Year and I trust 2014 will be a good year for you and yours. As we head towards the momentous date in September when we vote on independence, it is somewhat galling to see the First Minister and all the other politicians forever aiming to include a piper in any photo opportunity. Their time would be better spent properly resourcing the teaching of piping in Scottish Schools - did you know that our beautiful capital city does not have a single piping instructor in the state system? Glasgow comes a close and disgraceful second with only one - my good friend P/M Peter MacInnes. I suspect that there is still a culture in some quarters that the bagpipes are a poor and distant relation to classical instruments and that pipers are happy to play for the "odd dram". The sooner this antiquated view is quashed, the better.
My business is now well into its 4th decade and it's hard to believe where the time has gone - I'm now older, perhaps wiser and definitely a lot greyer in the areas where I have some hair remaining! However, with age comes experience and whilst the enthusiasm of youth has energy and excitement, it is nice to still have great satisfaction in a job when it is well done. On the bag front, we are selling in one week what we normally used to sell in a month - that's fantastic and thanks for your support. I'm planning to up production with another press and hope that will make our order turn-round that bit quicker.
On a personal level, I'm off to the Glasgow Highland Club on the 3rd of February for their second house dinner and I'll give you some feedback in the next edition of the newsletter - the photo is an extract from their home page. I am also attending a Burns Supper at Lenzie Rugby Club on St Valentine's Day - it's a bit of a strange date being so long after the Bard's birthday on the 25th January but hey - Rabbie would be well pleased, being a great romantic and a ladies' man.
James C. Begg
We have a new and unique chanter now available and this will commemorate the forthcoming Commonwealth Games which are being held in Glasgow from the 23rd July to the 3rd August. It is naturally in the blue and white of the Saltire, with an inscription depicting the Games and the year. If you prefer, it could be engraved to commemorate the Ryder Cup, the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn or any other event you choose. Unusually, it's made of top quality medical grade acetal rather than the normal delrin and it produces a really sweet tone. We have 4 available on a first come first served basis, and if demand is high enough we may produce more. The model shown in the photo is not quite the finished article as yet - still has a ferrule with inscription to be added. Price for this unique chanter is £82.50 excl. vat and we will post worldwide free of charge.
Any Questions? - for Mr. Les Cowell.
This month's questions and answers are from my long term friend and business associate, Mr. Les Cowell of David Naill and Company. Les, along with his son Martin, were in Glasgow as sponsors of the Echoes of Oban (see footnote) at the College of Piping on the 23rd November. It's great that they take the time not just to sponsor but to support the event in person. They stay in Minehead, Somerset which is on the south west coast of England. I met them at my Bath Street HQ, known as The Moskito -Scotland's best pub (which just happens to be next to my shop!). I mentioned to Les and Martin that when I opened the shop in Bath St in 2000 there were no pubs but now there are many - their response implied that demand picked up tremendously when I turned up! Les is a craftsman of the highest order when it comes to the production of pipes and chanters, and we are delighted to have his input to our newsletter.
Q. At what age did you start playing and who were/are your tutors?
A. age 12 - Eric Findlater.
Q. What is the best piping advice you’ve had and who gave it to you?
A. Take up another instrument- you must listen to other players- for example, Angus Macaulay - original Lovat Scouts P/M.
Q. What would you say has been your biggest piping difficulty?
A. Playing was the biggest problem.
Q. Which is the best piping book?
A. Ross' books - this had been a common theme throughout this Q and A series.
Q. Who is your favourite player and why - past or present?
A. Baggie MacMillan of the Scots Guards- superb player and from the past, Angus MacColl without a doubt.
Q. Is there something in piping you wish you could have done but haven’t as yet?
A. Make some money!
Q. What is your pet hate within piping?
A. Magazines that don't do anything to enhance piping.
Q. What has been your happiest piping moment?
A. Seeing Roddy MacLeod win this year's Bratach Gorm in London.
Q. What is your most prized piping possession?
A. My lungs, as I can still blow!
Q. What do you do outwith piping that might surprise us?
A. Shoot clays - i.e. clay pigeon shooting.
The ‘Echoes of Oban’ was an event held annually in the 1950s and 1960s, when the winners from the Argyllshire Gathering each year were invited to play their winning tunes at a concert in Glasgow. This gave those who had been unable to attend the Gathering a chance to hear some of the winning performances, while those who had attended were able to enjoy the performances again in a relaxed social atmosphere. The College of Piping restarted this tradition again in 2008 and has held it every year since.
The following will give you the background to Les' career and we hope the National Piping Centre won't mind us using their link.
Les - thank you so much!
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