A Piper Toots His Own Horn

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, I reblog the story of how I came into possession of my current bagpipes. It is a tale of whim and woe, laughter and tears, murder and mayhem. Well, perhaps rather less of all that. But, it remains a story for which I am forever grateful. May the tunes ever continue to ring out!


For forty plus years I have submitted myself to being assaulted by a screaming five-legged octopus wearing tartan underpants. To the lay person – I am a bagpiper. It is, under any circumstances, an instrument that, like a crying baby on an airline (or me), demands center stage. It is a sound that captured me even as a boy of seven years old.

Calgary, 1971
I grew up in a tiny bungalow in Calgary, Alberta the adopted son of a brewery worker and his wife, my mother. As I, along with my younger brother and sister, continued to grow, it became abundantly apparent that our consistent brushing of shoulders would only lead to heartbreak. My father set about building me a bedroom in our not-quite-finished basement. For some fifteen years to follow it would be my sanctuary – my monastery – the place where I found music, booze, girls (keep that bit a secret…

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