NOTES FROM PIPEY'S CORNER
THE SEASON IS OVER - NOW WHAT?
Volume XVIII Number 5 - November 2006
So - the Games are all over this year, at least for us out west; there will be nothing until the Queen Mary in February, then the lunacy begins anew. Only thing going will be the WUSPBA AGM later this month, won't sparks fly there? Black Part will be evident, in his ne capacity of Southern Branch VP (read- Pres, since the office holder is a do-nothing). We'll keep you posted on the doings.
Just in - finally: the new DVDs from the World's (2 vols., $26.95 ea.), the 2006 Tattoo ($36.95), and the Vale of Atholl live concert ($29.95). I just wish they'd standardise their prices!
HIGHLAND DRESS DEPORTMENT DEPARTMENT: This month's tirade is on bunnets - bonnets to you. There is a lot of controversy out there as to what should be worn, and how.
The original Highland Bonnet was a large pancake-looking affair, knitted in the round like a beret and shrunk with hot water and pulling ('fulling') the material to shape it. This was worn in the 17th and 18th centuries, definitely, maybe earlier (this type of headgear has been worn in many European countries over the centuries, particularly in France, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy in different centuries, and today). In the latter part of the 18th century military fashion shrunk the bonnet to a diced headband with a small lip at the top - more a pillbox hat than anything else - but the civilian style remained, slightly smaller than its antecedant, and does so to the present day. The current incarnation is usually referred to as a Balmoral, or sometimes, Kilmarnock bonnet. The major difference between these two is the ribbons at the back - balmorals are tied in a bow, kilmarnocks have tails. Kilmarnock bonnets are also usually worn with a wire inside the rim to stiffen it. There are other variations as well - the Atholl bonnet, which is closer to the old pillbox, with a small, stiff pancake, and the variant worn by the RSDG with vandyking on the band. These bonnets may be plain or diced, and come in a variety of colours for day wear - lovat green or blue, fawn, rifle green, as well as the usual navy and black for any wear. The military wear a khaki version they refer to as the TOS - tam o' shanter, worn with a tartan patch and a hackle.
It is properly worn with the left side cocked up with the clan badge, or scrugged down over the forehead, à la Seton Gordon. People complain that they look floppy, don't sit right on the head, and so on. If it's too big, SHRINK IT. This means soaking it in warm water and wearing it on a hot sunny day to full the pancake, shrinking it down to a convenient size. Feathers, unless you're an armiger, should NOT be worn. That includes pheasant feathers. I can't help myself when I see the Ren Fairies traipsing around with pheasant feathers in their hats - pheasants weren't introduced to Europe until the mid-18th century, from China.....
The Glengarry bonnet - now usually referred to as a 'hat' - was invented by Sir Alasdair Ranaldson MacDonnell of Glengarry, he of the famous 'tail' of retainers, the snooty portrait, and his outrageous tailors' bills. By basically folding a Balmoral in half lengrthways and adding stiffening, he changed the look of Scottish soldiers forever, and influenced pipe band wear today. The hat was so popular in its day that it was adopted for fatigue wear by ALL infantry regiments in the 1840s, and retained by the Scottish regiments after 1881 to this day. It is now the official headgear of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, much to the chagrin of the former Black Watch.
It is correctly worn tilted to the right, and a little back on the head, in the proper 'highland' style. Blackcock feathers may be worn by pipers. In addition, pipers wear PLAIN glens, and drummers, officers, and other ranks in the military wear diced glens. As this type of headgear has a particularly military history, it should mostly be worn by the military, or those in pipe bands. It should not be worn square on the head - makes you look as if you had an extra, single eyebrow.
The feather bonnet has no real 'ancient' history. It grew from the pillbox style, adding more and more feathers until it became the 'Hummel Bonnet' in the Napoleonic wars and soon after developed into the full feather bonnet style worn today. The bonnet consists of a diced band with an adjustable cap inside, and a paper-covered wire or wicker cage on which are sewn strings of ostrich feathers, like miniature feather boas. On the right side there is usually a hole, over which fall the 'foxtails' - dependant feather 'chains' that swing as one marches. Depending on the regiment, their are four, five, or six foxtails. On the left sits a hackle about 10-11" long, behind the cap badge of the regiment or unit. This is strictly military headgear, worn only by certain regimental pipe bands (Scots Guards, RSDG, and Black Watch pipers; Highlanders, Black Watch, and Argylls drummers). One last thing - don't EVER wear a feather bonnet with civilian day or evening dress - looks downright pitiful, like a penguin with an eggplant on his head.
Until next month - email me what you'd like to hear about!
Black Part Speaks:
Yes, 'Ol Black Part again appeared
at the AGM held this last weekend in Las Vegas. The meeting
was quick, (3 hours) and quiet. Andrew Morrill had Stu
Baker as the conductor for this recent Steam Train to
Vegas. Nominations are open...Motion to close
nominations! Did anyone really know what offices were up
for election, or as is the case re-election? I note with
some interest that bands are now able to vote by
"proxy". This enabled a quorum. Solo
members though may NOT vote by proxy, or in absentia. This
clearly discriminates in favor of the bands to the detrement of
the solo members, and is a huge problem that MUST be
corrected. Either we have proxy, or absentee voting by ALL
members, or by NO members. Since bands are already allowed
to use proxy votes, and vote in absentia, solo members in hte
future MUST be allowed to do the same. There is nothing in the
current by-laws to prevent solo members from voting by proxy, or
in absentia. And there is now precident established for one
class of members of the WUSPBA to vote by proxy and in
absentia. So how will the WUSPBA provide for its solo
membership to do the same? 'Ol Black Part wants this answer
soon, else there may have to be some actions taken
to correct this obvious discrimination.
Two other interesting notes on rule and bylaw changes: 1) Jeff Mann withdrew his proposal which would have limited judges from competing in one class, then judging different classes at the same venue. Thanks Jeff. 2) The rule on instructors has changed back to hoiw it was before the AGM in February. How many more times will this rule change. Odds makers in Vegas are standing by.
The meeting was followed by very interesting workshop presentations. Those not there missed out. Also, more prospective judges took the exams. I hope they weren't discouraged by the content of these exams, and they didn't require 5 or more hours to complete them. I also hope all that were subjected to this "torture" passed.
Ol' Black Part AKA John Eric Partanen, Ph.D. WUSPBA member number 0193PP
(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)