December 2009



Here we are almost to the end of the year, with Christmas less than four weeks away. Time for those traditional pipers' stocking stuffers - seasoning, hemp, Renaissance™ Wax, and bore oil!

Speaking of these four maintenance items, now is the perfect time to reseason your pipe bag, replace old hemp, and oil and wax your pipes before winter truly sets in. An ounce or two of prevention will stave off expensive repairs. You might want to look at a new bag for next year as well, and you always need chanter reeds....

Just arrived in time for Christmas, Murray Blair's new bagpipe tuner - compact, full of features, and less than half the price of other tuners out there. Fully adjustable for basal pitch, will tune every note on your chanter, lock your drones, and do everything but your taxes....well worth its $160 price tag. Also we'll hsve SFU's new Affirmation CD by about the 10th of December.

Just a reminder, we'll be heading South for the holiday, so make sure you get your orders in by Dec. 20th for Christmas delivery.

Heard from Justin Stodghill after quite a long time - about five years - and it seems the Marine Pipers Network is now located at where interested Marines may join in conversation and resources available there.

Those interested may also join the Marine Pipers Facebook page at and post pictures, greetings, and scuttlebutt.



A bagpipe maker for almost fifty years, Greig Sharp, last manager at Peter Henderson's in the 1960s and owner of Kintail since 1971, died overnight at the Marie Curie Hospice in Glasgow. He was seventy years old and succumbed to lung cancer after a two year battle. He leaves his wife Jan, and his two nephews Drew and Steven, who will carry on the business. Service will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Marie Curie Hospice in Greig's memory.

I was going to wait until next month, but I can't, so here goes:

Greig grew up piping, and when he demobbed from his National; Service in 1961 it was to become manager at peter Henderson's at the tender age of 22. He never looked back, taking Henderson through the sixties and up to the sale to Hardie in 1971, at which point he founded Kintail Bagpipes, taking the last Henderson turners (and tools) with him. At Kintail he continued to make Henderson pipes for Bob Hardie until the name was discontinued in 1973.

Greig built the business and its reputation all through the seventies; he was the first to offer a complete kilt outfit package for both day and evening wear, and sponsored the World Championships from 1981-85, and underwrote the expenses of the Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band for three years in the eighties as well. For many years his tent at the Worlds drew cutomers from all over the planet.

The business moved, not often, but for good reason. Having begun in Glasgow, he moved to Bridge of Allan for many years, then back to Glasgow in the late 1990s, to the Barrack Street location, a former Army stables. In 1991 he brought his two nephews into the business; Drew and Steven now run it, and will continue to make fine pipes.

Greig himself was a painstaking pipemaker; the gold gilt and mammoth ivory set he made me was one of the last 'all Greig' sets made at Kintail. I could go on about his craftsmanship and business sense; I'd rather remember him as my friend, always quick with the latest bit of gossip or a comment on the evils of the world - Tony Blair, or 'Tony the Phony' - was one of his favourite topics, along with 'George III Bush' and a few others.

Two years ago Greig was diagnosed with the disease that took his life, the result of fifty years of smoking and breathing blackwood dust. I never understood the rudimentary-at-best lung protection pipemakers have used for decades - a wad of cotton batting between two metal grates, strapped over the mouth - after all, in the US dust collection systems have been used for years, and are mandatory under OSHA rules. Greig Fought the Good Fight, never giving in, through many hospital trips and treatments. I hope his last days in Hospice were peaceful.

I learned a lot from Greig, about bagpipe making and pipe makers, about piping in general, Highland dress, and you name it, we'd talk about it. He stuck by me through thick and thin, and I will miss having to pick up the phone at 3 am to hear "Iain - I didn't wake you, did I? There's a good lad." My last phone conversation with him was just before he went into hospice - he rang me up with the words, "No deid yet!" I will never forget it. As I knew he was on his way out of this life I wrote the tune below, hoping against hope that I wouldn't have to print it.

Farewell, my friend; we'll be together again one day, but not too soon!



Seasons Greetings from the ol' pirate Himself!  The other day the WUSPBA, my favorite association, sent me a Christmas Present.  There is now, underway, relevant discussion on allowing absentee voting by the entire WUSPBA membership for the election of officers and changes to the bylaws and contest rules usually done at the AGM, ONLY by those same few persons who attend the AGM.  These discussions were intiated by the new President, John Biggar, and are being encouraged by our new Vice-Prtesident Jeff Mann.  Early responses of course by the same few who have always been against this are not favorable.  No surprize here.  But there are a few positive responses as well, surprizingly from some of the Utah members of the Executive Committee.  So, maybe in the near future, our association may in fact become all it can be, truly representative of its membership.  I hail and congratulate John Biggar and Jeff Mann for the courageous intiative they've undertaken, and hope that a system can be agreed upon that will allow ALL members of the WUSPBA to participate in the election of officers and changes in the bylaws and contest rules. 

For a system that works....refer to the Bylaws of the Southern Branch of the WUSPBA which this year allows all members of the Southern Branch to vote by absentee ballot.  A sample ballot for the Southern Branch elections may be downloaded from the WUSPBA website under the subsection devoted to the Southern Branch.  All members of the Southern Branch are urged to download their ballots, fill them out, and send them in.  In the Southern Branch, your vote matters.  And soon, perhaps, your vote will matter as well with the WUSPBA.  So again:  Seasons Greetings to all, and PLAY NICE!  Black Part's Orders!!!! .


(The management of Cuillinn Craft takes NO responsibility for any editorial statements made by John Eric Partanen PhD. Any and all comments should be directed to BLACK PART)


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