World Peace in theBeer Garden, Fierce Competition On the Parade Field
The Act of Proscription, passed in 1747 in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-6 forbade the wearing of Highland dress and the possession of weapons by Highlanders, but it did not forbid the playing of pipes. While a court in 1747 found that bagpipes were an instrument of war because no Highland regiment ever marched without them, bagpipes were never specifically outlawed and their use was widespread. “You can play your pipes, laddie, just don’t do it wearing your plaid.”
Music was performed in the Beer Garden. The Wicked Tinkers’ insistent primal warlike drum beat that undergirds the music of the pipes and didgeridoo is an excellent reason, if a reason is ever needed to drink very good solid ale and shots of single malt Scotch whiskey. The combination of quality spirits and music is quite popular with the beer garden set and the parents who set up camp across the hillside beyond the beer garden, children safely asleep atop picnic blankets in the shade. The Highland Way band played their sets just before The Tinkers and were very good and played popular tunes like “Whiskey In the Jar” and other Gaelic favorites but it was The Tinkers who raised the roof and our spirits.
Most of The Wicked Tinkers’ music is instrumental. One exception is “Wallop The Cat,” in which “Wallop” is the cat’s name. The only words in the song are the title, shouted repeatedly to the accompaniment of drums and pipes. It’s great fun, really, and good for sales of cds and beer.
Tickets were five dollars each and two ladies checked your identification then dispensed your tickets. There was no limit to the number of tickets one person could purchase and no one behaved poorly. Three single-malt Scotches were offered for sale at one-ticket per shot, and the bottles standing in the sun were for advertisement, the drink rested in dark coolness next to the beer kegs. Garden beer was one beer per ticket for twelve-ounces of your choice of two kinds of good ale, or Guinness if you prefer “the dark chewy.” Cool beer is known to aid the digestion.
On the hillside away from the parents and their sleeping children was a small beer garden and outside this shaded area was where the pipe band competition was held. Pipe band competitions are governed by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, RSPBA rules. World championships are held this year in Glasgow, Scotland in August. There may be world peace in the beer garden but competition is fierce on the parade field.
13 pipe bands competed in four categories, from Grade 1 through 5. Competitions range from solo piping, solo drumming, drum major, and of course the combined drum and pipe band competition. Awards and cups were distributed throughout the weekend as winners were chosen. The fields surrounding the competition area were loud with pipes and drums practicing and competitors milling and visiting the other venues. No competitors were noticed in the beer garden prior to their event.
It was enough for joy that day to sit on a hillside eating fish and chips listening to the competition bands practicing and the beer garden bands piping and thumping their vigorous ancient tunes, and crowds of people shouting in unison “Wallop the Cat!”