And now for something completely different…

Posted 19 August, 2013 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 12 Comments

This weekend was the “Celebration of Life” for my Uncle Bill, who passed away due to complications from his cancer (which he had in his lungs, pancreas, spleen and colon. Yeah, not good.). My uncles, aunts and cousins came down to South Carolina from Chicagoland to spend time with my aunt and the rest of us. It’s been years since the entire clan was together and, despite a terrible reason for the reunion, it was really nice to see everyone and catch up. (I’m the very white forehead behind my aunt, who’s in the blue dress and white sweater. Not the best angle but…I’m there!)


Besides the family reunion, it was also the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow this Saturday and Sunday. Why is this a big deal? Well, because I’ve played pipes for over 25 years and competed in the Worlds three times. Since I moved to South Carolina, I’ve let my piping fall by the wayside, since there isn’t a Grade 2 or 1 pipe band nearby (those are the top two grades and, after competing with a grade 2 band for over 20 years, I’m a pipe band snob and can’t play with anything less than a Grade 3 band. I can’t help it.). But the bug has bitten me again and I’ve spent much of July and August learning some new tunes and getting my pipes going again (which came in handy, as I played Amazing Grace at my uncle’s Celebration of Life and made everyone cry. Yes, that was my job.).

BBC streamed the Grade 1 finals live on Sunday (a different group streams the qualifiers on Saturday) and I spent the morning curled up on my couch with my pups and a spot of tea watching the fantastic bands and all my piping friends (I know people who competed in many of the bands playing in Grades 1 and 2, which made it even better!).

If bagpipes make you think of screeching cats, you’re doing it wrong (or, actually, they’re doing it wrong). Three-time winners of the World Pipe Band Championships, Field Marshal Montgomery from Northern Ireland kicks some serious piping butt with their fantastic medley (a variety of quick tunes but must also include a slow air):




And I have to share this medley — this is St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band from Houston, Texas, which one of my best friends plays in. They’re Grade 2 and won 5th place. Go, Jim!



Needless to say, between the family and the Worlds watching, I got very little reading (or anything else) done this weekend. I do hope you enjoyed a peek into the wild world of competitive piping!

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12 Responses to “And now for something completely different…”

  1. World Pipe Championship! I remember us talking about this :-)) I’m sorry for your loss but I see that you all took comfort in each other! *hugs*

  2. I think that the whole ‘Celebration of Life’ think is such a fabulous thing to do. It’s exactly what we should do when someone dies. And I bet Amazing GRace on pipes would have made me cry too.
    One of my best friends lives in Glasgow and he often sends me postcards that look very much like an image taken from one of these videos. I have a whole pile of them. 🙂

  3. I see your forehead Mary! You look awesome 😉 Never seen a better forehead really. And I’m with Maja, LOVE the “Celebration of Life”:) I had no idea you played the pipes, that’s amazing! I have absolutely zero musical talent, but I adore bagpipes. Now I really want to hear you play!

  4. I see you! Ooo, I didn’t know you play the pipes! That’s pretty cool! I’m sorry for your loss, but it’s nice when a family gets together and finds the best it in. You all are awesome.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your uncle. ((HUGS)) What a wonderful way to celebrate his life.

    On a happier note, I know that the pipes are hard to play. Amazing and I want to see a vid of you playing something happy. 🙂

  6. I’m sorry for the circumstances that brought you all together but I’m glad you were able to have something positive happen. That is such an amazing way to celebrate someone’s life.

    I’m impressed with your ability to play the bagpipes!

  7. I’m sorry about your loss, but I’m glad your family was able to get together, that had to be special.

    I LOVE the pipes! But they make me tear up even if it’s not purposefully sad. I would LOVE to see it in real life. These videos are great though!

  8. Do you live in Scotland? You guys have such fun activities and kilts! Anyway, I’m sad to hear about your uncle. It’s unfortunate that events like that are usually when we get to see all our family together. But it is one positive thing about it all, I guess. I have weekends without reading a lot too, sometimes life is more important! xo

  9. Thank you for offering a defense of pipes-I was one of those who dismissed the instrument but I guess I have not spent enough time listening to them being well done.