Volume XIII Number 6 - June 2004


This month marks the 60th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944, the greatest amphibious assault ever made. A time of this country united with many others against a common enemy; a time when thousands gave their lives for freedom and the rights of man against tyrrany and oppression. Among the hundreds of tales of heroism and 'dumb luck' as my uncle used to call it, is the story of the late Lord Lovat and his piper, Bill Millen, still with us at an advanced age.

It was Bill who piped his commander ashore at Sword beach, playing 'Highland Laddie' and 'Blue Bonnets.' Lovat then led #6 Commando to relieve surrounded paras at Pegagus Bridge in Benouville over a mile inland. MacShimidh went ashore carrying his favourite old Winchester deer rifle and a rolled brolly, and wearing a white sweater with 'LOVAT' worked into the collar. When asked why he took such risk by wearing white, he once remarked, 'I wanted to be sure Gerry knew damn well who was coming to get him.' While the landing at Sword beach was considered a 'cakewalk' compared to the withering fire encountered at Omaha and Utah beaches, the Highland Division lost over 500 men that June morning. They were able to move inland much faster than the American forces, securing target goals over two miles inland in the first twenty-four hours.

I had the pleasure of meeting MacShimidh over thirty years ago, and playing for him and his family at the Morar Games. He was a fine gentleman, '...the finest gentleman who ever slit a throat....' as Churchill once described him. Wounded seriously in the war, he used to remark that he set off all the metal detectors in the airports due to the 'bits in my head.' He was the kind of warrior we don't see any more.

Last Saturday I played a memorial over at Golden Gate National Cemetary; a private little service and reminiscence for a family on the tenth anniversary of their father's passing. Everything was going fine (even the video camera blowing over in the wind was OK) until some twit with a 35mm camera started getting in my face while I was playing. No manners, no asking, just there the bastard was, clicking away without any respect or regard for anyone else. He even had the gall to complain when I kicked him...

...making things worse, on Monday some antiwar protestors picketed the Memorial Day service at the same cemetary. There are times and places for antiwar protests, but Memorial Day in a national cemetary is definately NOT one of them. It demeans the men and women who rest in that place and every other military cemetary. It demeans the honour of the dead, and has NO business being there.

Some people just DON'T GET IT.

NOW for the 'wha?' Department: By now many of you campers have seen the video blurbs of the 'new' Madonna tour, in which she cavorts around the stage with a kilted (?) 'piper' and some dancers. If this isn't a travesty of All Things Scottish I don't know what is! It's time Madge quit 'reinventing' herself, hang up the cone bra, and accept middle age gracefully. Even the music critics have panned her latest tour, so, Madge, wherever you are this week, it's time to go home to hubby in Scotland and learn to make oatcakes - or something.

NEW IN THE SHOP DEPARTMENT: The Grant's of Dalvey line of accessories - flasks, billfolds, watches, card cases, shot pourers, and more, all profusely illustrated on our GRANT'S OF DALVEY page. ANY of these fine items would be the perfect gift for Dad on Father's Day, coming up on the 20th.

Also new, the 'P/M Robert Reid' cd from the College of Piping. Includes chanter lessons and selections played on the pipe. The first of a series, this source has long been sought after. $24.95 - in stock. You may also notice we've had to raise our prices for regular CDs by a buck - we hope we don't have to raise them again. All tutorial CDs will be $24.95 from now on, unfortunately.

ALSO NOW AVAILABLE: U.S.MARINE BAGPIPES - for the first time, a pipe for the Corps. Made from a 1910 Henderson model, these pipes have unique sound and character. Custom sterling slides, ferrules, caps, and sole hand engraved with Marine insignia; personalised with name, rank, serial number, and decorations for any current or former Marine or family. Limited to 100 sets, these pipes are offered by Capt. Justin Stoghill; Cuillinn Craft is the ONLY western US outlet for this instrument. We'll have more information on pricing and production time very soon on the page.

Those of you in the north shore of Lake Tahoe area will be able to hear me at the Squaw Village Solstice Festival on June 19th between 4 and 8 pm, in Olympic Valley off Highway 89. We'll also have a booth set up, manned by Able Salesman Jamie Cavin, with some of our nicer small pieces - and the CD, of course.

BLACK PART SPEAKS shortly! The Ol' Pirate sailed into southern waters to Costa Mesa last weekend and he's still digging the seaweed from his ears!

until next month....

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