Sunday, 27 December 2009

5,000 Pipers Piping...

I posted this on my favourite pilgrim Forum on the 26th, after dinner, with wine (see note re editing below!). The mere idea of pipers piping has set my toes a'tapping. ("Ten toes a'tappin?...?) It has made me a bit nostalgic.

More about the Camino in the New Year.

What a wonderful time of year to realise how much we all really have!
Never mind the gifts: it is the love of the giver that counts
Concerning a post about 5000 pipers on

(Say hello in any language to Ivar; he's a really great guy who works very hard to put pilgrims in touch.)

"I would have loved to have seen this. But there are bagsmen and there are Bagsmen and this is probably a story about Parental Influence. I want to share it with you. It's Chrismas, after all...My mother, God bless her Special Soul this Christmas, HATED the sound of Bagpipes. I thought as a child I did too. My mother's opinions were law. But I think she had never heard the sound of the "Irish pipes" which I heard when I was in my teens and a friend of such geniuses as Finbarr and Eddie Furie of Ireland.

I ran an "Irish Folk Club" (The Denbigh Arms Folk Club between Coventry and Rugby at a handful of houses called Monk's Kirby. Roger Bray and I as "Threshold" even had a minor following in the Midlands. Ralph Mctell used to drink coffee with the "after club crowd": sitting on an old mattress in my living room, and he wrote the words of Steets of London on a beer mat for me in a Wolverhampton club 'cos I loved it so long before it became a guitar student's standard. Roger and I may have even been the first to sing it on the circuit.

At the club we would sing "We are off to join the IRA and we are off tomorrow morn..." until such songs were frowned upon in England. So sad that time. We were a part of the following in the name of "Jasper Carrott": a man who though obviously incredibly talented never knew what was in store for him. (Jasper above with hair, as I remember him!) Jasper's club was called The Boggery in Solihull, near Birmingham. For me, my best memory of Jasper was when he "coaxed " (forced me out of shame: the bastard) on to the roller coaster in Blackpool on a "Boggery Day Out". For ten minutes afterwards I couldn't speak! True story!

At the Boggery, many great talents were showcased: Davey Johnstone (who went on to be Elton John's guitarist), Ralph McTell, and the Gaels, Fairport Convention, and there was a duo called Threshold (before called The Candlelight Folk but I won't admit this to everyone, just you guys: Tracy and Roger...gone into the mists of musical history. One at least of my friends of the 60's went on to be a member of the Chieftans. There were others: Magna Carta were special friends of mine. Others are no longer with us: Sandy Denny, Nick Jones, John Martyn whom I once booked at the Denbigh for 12 pounds. (Ralph Mctell ditto - ah, those were the days.) They were heroes of 60's folk all...they were my friends of my life long ago.

As to that "Gaellic" sound: I never expected many years later to hear its equal in Galicia. THEN I knew I was home! So many pipers, in my beloved Santiago: Holy Moly, I would loved to have been there. That would truly been the icing on a long layered cake...!

Happy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year to you all and Happy Hogmanay, you Scottish lot! (I might be one of you, but I think it's more likely the Welsh ancestry that brings out the Celt in me!)"

I originally posted this on Boxing Day and now recognising the perhaps only slight influence of the after dinner brandy have now edited it to make it comprehensible where before it was barely!
P.S. Who is my fan from Coventry? I lived there from 1960 - 1971. Went to school at Lyng Hall! Do please leave comment.
Tracy Saunders


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