Piping Perfection - established 1980
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Dear Piping Enthusiast,
August was a busy month indeed for piping and drumming - The Worlds, Piping Live!, hosts of games and tattoos have all come and gone again.
The Worlds was a huge success from a musical and organisational perspective and from the bands I managed to catch up with, the playing standards throughout the grades were high. The weather too was ideal for playing for most of the time, being neither too hot nor cold and generally dry.
However, there are still issues and I'm looking at the glass half empty rather than half full at this point.
My first and biggest gripe is Glasgow Green itself. I've never been a fan - although we have far better parks, it actually does the job as far as the contests are concerned but it's the surrounding area that gives it a far from glossy image. It is right next to where Glasgow was founded on the High St. and where the horse and carts crossed the river Clyde. From there, Glasgow spread out far to the East and West and became the second city of the Empire. I got off the bus at the Royal Infirmary and decided to walk down High St which is beyond dowdy. This is about as good a way to get to the Green as any other or so I thought. In no time at all, I was accosted by a rather inebriated gentleman who thought it would be nice to give me a cuddle - in fact, a bear hug. I am not of that persuasion and decided I'd do a tango and revolve him round to free myself of his unwanted attention. I bade him a fond farewell and a suitable greeting on a nice day - not!
As I ambled on and regained my composure, I was quickly set upon by the shout "Hey big man - you got 10p for a cup of tea". Another verbal response was required and I hoped my day could only improve from now on. It did of course when I reached the Green and the masses of piping and drumming aficionados from around the World. You can see what I'm getting at here for sure. I'm a fairly street wise Weegie but I wonder what the many thousands of visiting players and supporters think of it all. The whole area around the Green seems to have more than its fair share of dodgy characters. It is a complete disgrace and embarrassment for Glasgow and indeed for Scotland that we can't find a better venue than this. OK - you need transport logistics, hotels etc to stage such a big event but surely we can do a lot better. Having withstood two close encounters, I safely got to the entry kiosk only to be mugged by the City Council - £16 entry is far too high and if the price was lower, more people not necessarily into pipe bands might attend, thereby adding to the occasion. The city fathers must be laughing all the way to City Chambers.
The amount of money made on the day from entry fees, stand rentals and catering plus the accommodation and dining spent in the city is awesome - and yet the Council can't even supply clean toilet facilities on site. It would not take that much to turn the Worlds into a 5 star event, but no doubt it will be the same story, same place next year. The Green is only some 25 miles from Loch Lomond but it might as well be on a different plant. See you there but I'll be taking a different road next time.
James C. Begg
Begg at the Movies.
I know I have done my bit over the years at various live performances around the world, both as a soloist and in bands and looked most dashing in my finest Highland regalia. I have received rapturous applause (OK, the odd hand clap) on many occasions and so it was no real surprise when Netflix came knocking on my door - what a break-through I thought - a big budget movie and my chance to be the new Sean Connery. Outlaw King
about Robert the Bruce has started shooting in Scotland and stars Chris Pine and Aaron Taylor-Johnson but before you go rushing out to book your tickets to see yours truly in action, I am not actually appearing in person............ but through the middle aged pipe that Netflix has asked me to produce. Wendy Cairns, the prop lady, gave me a picture of their requirement and as you can see, the pipe has a quality look with fluted chanter made from mopane and a horn for embellishment. Making the pipe is the easy bit - can I get a part as a handsome Outlaw extra or even a red carpet invitation to the première
With our move to new premises and a review of our inventory, we are able to offer a great deal on practice chanters - 20% off. With the Northern Hemisphere season ended, practice for next season should be underway so set yourself up with a new practice chanter. Don't miss this one which we think is the best offer around.
Field Report - the Worlds
Regarding bags, we were well represented as usual throughout Grade 1, with Field Marshall and the new world champs Inveraray having a plethora of Begg products to the fore. Well done to Stuart Liddell, his band and the organisers behind the scenes. I remember when it all started back with the kids and to achieve so much in such a short space of time is an outstanding achievement and so well deserved - I am so pleased. It was also interesting to see St Thomas Alumni from Texas taking 3rd place in grade 2 with the whole band on Begg bags. Recent customers, The Glasgow Skye Association under P/M Ewan Henderson, clinched grade 2 and are definitely grade 1 material. I have known Ewan since around 2000 during his time with Strathclyde Police Pipe Band. His day job now sees him policing the glorious setting of the world famous canal capital of the north and new home to Begg Bagpipes - Kirkintilloch. It's good to know Ewan is keeping the Burgh safe and many congratulations on his band's success. It has been said that Begg Bags have always been under the long arm of the law!
Field Report - Piping Live!
The Trade show at the College of Piping was a most enjoyable and relaxed affair, with free entry. It was great meeting up with customers, sharing knowledge, passing on advice and catching up with old friends from the College. All in all it was a worthwhile inaugural event and I hope they can do again in the future. It's good for players to meet and chat in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Pic is of my daughter Lisa at the Trade Show.
I enjoyed the variety of action during the week in George Square, with bands outside and groups under cover. The weather seemed to know when to rain as it generally fair when bands were on duty and wet when the marquee was in action. I enjoyed seeing my pal Jack Henderson of Power and B/Cal fame joining in with a group from the Czech Republic - a most happy and joyous group and Jack was in his element. He is always up to a challenge and did a great job in mastering a somewhat bizarre looking instrument. It was great stuff and a well deserved ovation.
The street cafe outside the National Piping Centre was buzzing all week and again good bonhomie.
All in all another successful Piping Live!. It really encourages youth and local Glaswegians, with many free events where you can appreciate and enjoy piping culture - as I said above, the City Council really should take another look at their pricing strategy for the Worlds and make entry costs to the big finale at the end of the Piping Live! week far more reasonable for everyone.
In Passing 1 ....
After a frantic year, it was time for a mini weekend break. Lisbon was our destination and what a stunning, spotlessly clean city with beautifully tiled streets. Add fantastic transport, old 1930s trams, sunshine and loads of fishy dishes and I would give it 110 %.
I even got a little practice in at Glasgow Airport on the way out. My playing was a bit wooden but I went flat out - Patrick Og was enjoyed by all .
In Passing 2 ....
We have settled well in our new premises in Kirkintilloch and in terms of easy access from the motorway network and parking, we seem to be well placed. If you are planning to visit us, can I suggest a phone call or email ahead of your visit to ensure I am on hand - our opening times are very flexible to suit your schedule and we don't operate a rigid 9-5 scenario. We are available at your convenience - call ++44(0)7906596927 or email email@example.com
If you would like to report on any aspect of the Piping World from wherever you live, or if you would like to comment on any articles or issues, we'd be pleased to hear from you. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org