by Anura Guruge
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I have been meaning to write about this story since I saw it in a local New Hampshire paper a few days ago. As soon as I saw the name ‘Webster’, and ‘Concord’, it crossed my mind that this most likely is Gordon Webster’s son. I used to see Gordon and his wife all over the place — of course at the Highland Games but also at the Multicultural Day in Laconia. Very nice couple. We used to talk to them, c. 2003, because we were thinking of doing the opposite of what they had recently done; i.e., we were thinking of moving to the U.K.
Gordon is the second Queen’s Piper I have had the privilege of meeting. The other was the ultra-impressive, ‘WOW — what a great guy’, Jim Motherwell. I am sure I heard this story from Gordon as opposed to Jim. So lets assume that it was indeed Gordon. One of his assignments while the Queen’s Piper was to pipe, while standing on a rowing boat, on a Loch in Scotland (around Balmoral, I think), enacting some historic event, while the Queen and others watched from shore. In the excitement of getting the boat ready, whoever was in charge, forgot to put back the drain plug. So Gordon is in the boat, piping away, merrily, when he realizes that the boat was taking on water. Being the professional he is he keeps on piping without missing a beat — let alone a note. Others in the boat are well aware of what is happening. They start rowing back to shore. Those on the shore, including the Queen, realize that things are amiss. Gordon keeps on piping. The water keeps on rising. They make it to shore. The Queen actually approaches the boat to make sure her piper is OK. I like that story.
Bagpipes and ivory?
What can I say?
I am, of course, given my love for elephants, dead against ILLEGAL ivory. Having grown up in a country where they have both wild and domesticated elephants I understand the distinction between legal ivory and poached ivory. I also appreciate that there is a LOT of old ivory around.
Yes, IF the ONLY way to curb poaching is to ban ALL ivory imports I will go along with that. I am not an expert, but I don’t think using plastic instead of ivory will really make that much of a difference to the LOVELY sound made by a bagpipe!
Some examples of bagpipes and ivory. Click to access.