Steenie Steenson, well-kent grumpy old piper, sends us his ramblings and rattlings

It was a wild night across Eildon as I staggered back to Primrose Knowe from my wee trip to Aul’ Reekie - I had plenty of opportunity to savour the landscape of the borders, I can tell you. I had on my mind, as you may guess,  the tales I had heard, both of pipers and sea-maidens and of the culture I learned I had in my DNA. Well, I have a scary story of my own, as you may well know, concerning white-hot chanters and devil dogs and a misplaced male-payment, but I have ever been unaware of what culture I carried in my genes.
To be honest, ever since my grandsire’s earliest days, though we sang the songs right enough,  we struggled to put aside the culture we sang about, though there’s now those, particularly, I notice, in local councils and tourist boards, that are, it seems, rather proud of it. I’m talking, you’ll guess, about the reiving. Now that was a time of terror for all but the wildest and lawless of us, something I would have no taste for, to be called out in the dark of night by a slighted warlord and dragged across the hills to steal some other warlord’s cattle, and slaughter some poor tacksman and put his family to the fire on the way, belikes, though I saw muckle mischief myself, and maybe did some, that I couldna avoid, in the riding days. There are cultures that are best buried in the nearest tarn, if you ask my opinion, which there’s few are like to do.
There were more than a few I spotted in that auspicious room who had never blown into a highland pipe, who were maybe as bewildered as I was, lurking at the very back of the room, as is my wont these days, to learn of the struggles a piper who had been trained in the music of the mountaineers might be put through in order to instill something of the flavour of the music of the borders into their fingers.  
I’m not saying I didn’t have my piping drilled into me - my pappy made sure of that - but the music was there from the start. The dance, now, whether a penny-wedding or a fair or what-have-ye, you couldn’t keep me from it. I’d be there, moonrise till sunrise, steppin’ awa’. I soon learnt that without the dance in you, no matter how much drilling your pappy would give you, you’d never make a border piper, not one who’d be asked back. And what dances! My head reels. Well, my knees and my back are well-gone now, but I could out-step any of them when I was a youngster. Ask me to tell you about those dances some time; there’s few now that remembers them at all…