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The written word cannot adequately acquaint those who were not there with the atmosphere of that event. So rather than a blow by blow account, let me suggest a little of the flavour of that evening by mentioning the participants and printing the lyrics of that engaging song (her own com­position) which Mairi Campbell sang. It can be heard on her CD “THE CAST”.


Jim Gilchrist, hardly clear of the ‘flu, guided the proceedings in a rasping croak, and, as is the tradition, the evening pivoted around music, humour and a good crack.

We were welcomed - by the clarsach and fiddle of Maeve and Oma Gilchrist.

We were enlightened - by Stan Reaves (from Edinburgh’s Adult Learning Project) with his outrageous Immortal Memory that took on two strands and tested our credulity even though we toasted the conclusion!

We were enthralled - as Holy Willie himself appeared in our midst and, with night-cap and candle, harangued us over our sins - before miraculously re-assembling himself in the shape of John Gahagan.

We were entertained - by the smallpipes under the competent elbows and fingers of An- drew Warren.

We were enchanted - by the singing of Mairi Campbell (with Dave Francis on guitar).

Her unaccompanied song


is (with permission) reproduced here.



I could hear the music playing as I came up to the door And once inside I felt the beat of feet upon the floor

Had Gow himself been there that night he wouldn’t have disapproved As sets of reels got settled and the boards began to move.

The fiddlers fired their music to each corner of the bar And the rhythms swung like Basie on piano and guitar

And clear and bright above the rest the smallpipes led the score The call went up for dancers - Frank and Maggie took the floor.

[Francis MacConnell and Maggie Moore ­ step dancing]


The players stopped to catch their breath, the dancers gasped for air The piper stood and loosed his straps and stowed his pipes with care And as he made towards the bar a voice was heard to say

“You look to me the kind of man could play a sweet strathspey.”

“Well I have that reputation and it’s kind of you to say, “But I've got a demon thirst on me -I haven’t got all day.”

“Well hold that drink a minute now and look at what I’ve here - “A set of pipes worth more of your time than any pint of beer.

“The drones are turned from boxwood and the chanter’s bound with gold, “There’s finest beeswax hemp and leather - here, I’ll give you them to hold.” The piper looked in wonder as those pipes came out the case,

He strapped them on and closed his eyes: and quiet filled the place.

The Devil In The Kitchen, and The Rothiemurchus Rant George The Fourth and Stumpie and The Bob Of Fettercairn,

As each strathspey outshone the last he swore he knew no more But still the tunes came tumbling out from some forgotten store.

He played strathspeys and reels and jigs he never thought he knew And when at last the output stopped the silence round him grew Until the shock of what they'd heard from everyone there burst

Such cheers and yells and shrieks and stamps which by-and-by dispersed.

And as they did the piper turned and to the maker said,

“What enchantment is there here, and was it really me who played? “There's fearful stories of these things I’ve heard the old folk tell,

“I fear the hand that made these pipes was guided straight from Hell!”

Well the maker smiled at him and said “I understand your fear, “But the wood and leather’s of this Earth - no magic is there here, “I will admit these pipes could be the finest ever made,

“But that would count for not one thing if they were never played.

“For there’s music in them right enough, but there’s music in you too, “And the one requires the other for that music to come through,

“The pipes unlocked the music that was waiting in your soul, “And you unlocked the instrument and made the circle whole”.

Need I say more?