Friday, June 05, 2009

How to play the bagpipes

The following is a short reflection on one of the best nights out I've ever had!

After 4 days of extensive sightseeing with Felix (we covered almost every church in the 1st district, had more traditional food than I usually have in half a year and discussed loads of petty little philosophical and moral questions without much outcome -- I won one, though!!!), he got on his train home to Munich safely and I cycled to the Highlander - a Scottish Pub in Vienna - to celebrate Kati's Birthday.

We had an interesting mixture of drinks - starting off with Strongbow's, then progressing to Whisky, being paid a round of peach schnapps by Tony (the barman) and so on. (Sorry, no complete list available for reasons concerned with reputation.) So we were in a pretty good mood already, when suddenly a whole bunch of kilted men and women marched in and started to play Scottish tunes, accompanied by highland dancing. It was AMAZING!! The pub was filled with sound and nobody could refrain from clapping and stomping their feet to the beat - it was contagious!

After the performance some of the guys walked over to our table (probably because we had clapped and cheered so much) and we found out that they weren't Scottish at all, but belonged to Toronto's police orchestra (one of them showed us his ID to prove it!) Anyways, they are here for some sort of festival (I'm afraid I forgot which one) to play together with the Viennese orchestra. So we were talking about Scotland and Canada and bagpipes and whatnot, when I made the assumption that playing the bagpipes must be really difficult. I was answered by a question:
Wanna try yourself?
What could I say to that! My eyes started to gleam (I suppose): Of course I wanted! I have wanted to do that for many years!!

So David (that was the guy's name) placed the instrument on my shoulder and I was absolutely unable to cope with it: it's impossible to hold that thing properly and keep it where it was: The bass and tenor pipes kept slipping down from my shoulder, thus ripping the chanter from my hands. When the bag wasn't inflated, it was extra difficult to hold. But with Dave's help I eventually managed not to drop it.

I then started blowing up the bag with the mouth-piece: That was easy (apart from the bass and tenor pipes leaving my shoulder again). But squeezing the air out of the bag again was tough! It takes more pressure than I expected to create a sound. And as soon as I managed to get some sort of indistinct sound out of the instrument, the bag was empty again (and the pipes had slipped down my shoulders once more).

Whew! Not easy... Try again.

We all took our turns - to the great amusement of our "teachers".

Now we had tasted blood and wanted more and mustered up some courage and asked one of the girls if she could teach us highland dancing as well. She was very surprised and asked whether we were being serious.
We were and so we got a crash course in this discipline as well and - let me tell you - it's not as easy as it looks: You need a good sense of balance (which you naturally don't have after a couple of drinks), but we did ok.

Our feeble attempts were afterwards honoured by a round of drinks on the Canadians and after some more chatting, laughing and joking the four of us went home - with a wide grin on our faces and "Scotland the Brave" in our heads.


Kathi said...

too much drinks, indeed, but one of the best evenings I've had in a long time :)))

bagpipes rule!!

Nina said...

Wah! Kuhl! :grin:

Anonymous said...


Girls night out! It was hilarious! :D