Thursday 28 August 2014

The pipes, the pipes are calling

A feel-good story for the twilight years.
Th biggest bagpipes in all Scotland
from Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf
I've mentioned my father-'t-law Pat as living a life of youthful adventure before he was 20.  He clocked up a lot of sea miles during WWII with a succession of ships in the merchant marine. When I met him, he wasn't great about spinning yarns about his adventures.  Maybe it's because we never asked or maybe it was still too raw 30 years after the end of the war, when I appeared on the scene.  One of the family sagas was about his set of bag-pipes which had been a proud possession when he was courting his to-be-wife in up-country West Africa.  But somewhere along the way 30+ years ago, in rather murky circumstances, the pipes disappeared.  They had been taken for repair at rather a busy shifting time in Pat's life and were never seen again.  Periodically, one or other of the friends-and-relations would get exercised about the issue and start to do something towards recovery but these efforts petered out without getting anywhere productive.  Whether or not you can play the pipes, whether or not you have been to Scotland, if you haven't read Wee Gillis to your children then you have not fulfilled your destiny as a parent.

After twenty years of moving around the country every tuthree years, Pat and his wife settled into a minute cottage on 0.4 hectares of garden very close to the coast in County Waterford. They lived there for about 25 years.  About a year ago, the isolation and dependence on a car got to be too much for these stalwart octogenarians and they moved to a newer, better appointed house right in the centre of town. The transition hasn't been seamless but on balance the move is agreed to be A Good Thing. Then out of the blue a couple of weeks ago, the pipes turned up at Pat's front door delivered by the chap who had undertaken to repair them in the 1980s!  The back-story is long and complicated and has both black and white hats, melodrama and many still unanswered questions.  More directly and recently, it transpired that the repair-man, himself in his 80s, was due for some surgery and wanted to tie up some loose ends just in case the operation didn't go well.  The wayward pipes was high up the list of Things To Do before his appointment.  With doggedness, networking and detective skills worthy of Hercule Poirot, he found the house and providentially found Pat at home.  I'm not sure which of these two old chaps was happier, but I've been grinning like the Cheshire Cat every time I think about the story.  I sent him a postcard to say thanks from America when we were visiting Boston last week.

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