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7.10.09

A grand canyon


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Arrive at a grand canyon. We are not sure if it is the Grand Canyon, in which case we are in the right place, or another grand canyon, in which case we don't know where we are. However, whatever it is called, the canyon is a sight of such grandeur that we celebrate by breaking open barrels of Vintage Glenmorangie, Ardmore, Interleven and Caperdonich Special Reserve. After drinking to the magnificence of nature, we blow up our bagpipes and try to play 'Where the Columbines Grow' but, not only do we not know the tune but, after crossing the desert, our bagpipes are full of grit, the drones are chocked with sand and the reeds are damaged.

As all soldiers know, it is imperative that weapons are kept clean and in good condition, the Phìob Mhòr, the Great Highland Bagpipe, is no exception. Practitioners of Ryūkyū Kobujutsu make a point of polishing their nunchaku before battle, before they cut their own heads off, Samurai Warriors shine their swords up until they gleam, and even the Vikings, who are not famous for their cleanliness, dipped their axes in blood from time to time, to keep them oily. The Great Highland Bagpipe, in the hands of a Highlander, is a lethal close assault weapon and the noise it makes, even from a distance, is terrifying, but, for maximum effect, it needs proper maintenance.

Cleaning the bagpipes takes several days and, irritatingly, we cannot complete the job as, in the heat of the day, our wax melts. Juan insists that the only wax to use, when hemping a reed, is the earwax from a Highland otter, preferably from Loch Carron. On this point, I agree. Aunt Humperdink hasn't contacted us, which means that she has gone on ahead, so we decide to return to Perthshire, where we can finish cleaning the bagpipes, and await further instructions in the Cheeky Monkey, in Aberfeldy. This is an excellent decision. To celebrate, Juan breaks open the barrel of his Special Reserve, which he keeps for such occasions, and, although we are very sorry to be leaving such a grand canyon, we are impatient to be back in Scotland and, after offering toast after toast to the grandness of the canyon, we bellow Sinkiuse war cries at the top of our voices, charge, somewhat unsteadily, back into the blistering desert sands, and head for the Highlands, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary