We received, surprisingly, quite a few correct answers to yesterday’s April Fool’s Day riddle, pictured above. Thomas MacKenzie of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada, was first with the correct answer to Tim Cummings’ clever musical cyrptogram.

The answer is:

Cabbage, Aged Beef, a Bad Egg – Egad!
(Dad added decaf café)

Tim used notation to indicate letters but also punctuation (i.e. the glissando is the dash, the high G gracenote is the exclamation point, and the vibrato is the accent aigu).

A big ‘thank you’ to all who entered into the spirit.

We continue to receive feedback on the blog written by Stuart Letford just over a week ago. Readers will recall he wrote on the subject of a photograph taken at a ceilidh ahead of the 1937 Northern Meeting in Inverness.

It seemed that the gentleman standing between Mrs MacLeod and Mrs Meldrum – an A. E. Milne – was possibly an enthusiast who had judged at some local highland games during the period but we had no more information than that.

However, further information has now been brought to our attention. Our correspondent tells us that at the funeral of Robert Meldrum (who is pictured, seated, in the front row and wearing spats) in Aberdeen in July 1941, A. E. Milne was one of the pallbearers. Milne was, we understand, a friend of Pipe Major George S. McLennan’s, who composed an eponymous tune for him. The tune, a 2/4 march, can be found in The Gordon Highlanders collection, Volume 1 as well as in Book 1 of The Cairngorm Collection:

Milne’s name, it turns out, is not Alexander but Alfie (Alfred) and he was a pupil of McLennan’s for quite a while. He was well known as a piping judge, too. As an aside, we make it four of the individuals in the photograph who have had tunes dedicated to them from the inventive pen of G. S. McLennan.

Further, our correspondent – who wishes to remain anonymous – has in his possession a letter from Alice MacPherson to Nona McLennan in which she suggests that with news of G. S.’s recent health set-back (three months before his death) he might benefit from recuperation at Inveran. She includes the detail that Angus is off to Inverness for a shinty match and that “… he is going to spend the weekend with John Macdonald” – so there in no doubt that in 1929 the two were good friends.


In addition, we are also grateful to Naill Graham-Campbell for pointing out a factual error contained in the blog. Niall writes: “I greatly enjoyed your description of the 1937 photo, taken at the Piper’s Ceilidh in Inverness but I was sorry that you repeated the myth from Bridget MacKenzie’s book [Piping Traditions of the North of Scotland, 1998], that Angus Macpherson was buried in the graveyard at Inveran. We, the members of the Ardgay and Bonar Bridge Pipe Band, at the time certainly thought that he ought to have been buried there.

“Angus was still our band President when he died and his funeral was in the kirk in Bonar Bridge. He was buried on a beautiful sunny day in the Creich graveyard, overlooking the waters of the Kyle of Sutherland. This, in addition to being etched on my memory, was certainly, for a while, etched on my finger – I was one of the pall bearers, in full dress uniform, and as we lowered the coffin at the graveside a protruding screw cut my finger. As I stood to attention I noticed blood dripping down and splashing on my white spats. As we wore the Scarlet Macpherson I was able, whilst still standing at attention, to quietly wrap my plaid round my hand, without causing a disturbance! It blended in quite well.” Thank you, Niall.

Davy Robinson of Falkirk, Scotland, writes to tell us he enjoyed our recent article on the superiority of cane practice canter reeds over plastic reeds. “Totally agree,” says Davy. “I still have a few left that I’ve looked after very carefully since buying them in the early 1990s. They still sound great and produce a true scale in my old Sinclair wooden practice chanter. Plastic is just no’ for me!”

Davy also points out that the photograph of the Army School pipers that we used in that article was, “a decent photo but surely the one that was on the cover of the November 2011 Piping Times [above] was better?”

It is indeed a better photo, Davy. We had forgotten about that one.

Jim Kilpatrick MBE has been added to the list of instructors teaching on the Balmoral School of Piping & Drumming’s forthcoming online summer school. The legendary drummer won the RSPBA’s World Solo Drumming Championships on 16 occasions and remains the only pipe band drummer to be inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.

Kilpatrick, pictured, was Leading Drummer of Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band for many years. He also spent a season with the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band before retiring from competition.

Lastly, here is Donald Drone to help your Easter weekend kick off in good humour.