And yesterday and today and forever The bagpipes commit to the winds of Heaven The deepest emotions of the Scotman’s heart In joy and sorrow, in war and peace. ——Hugh MacDiarmid, “Lament for the Great Music”, in Complete Poems
Their sound is perhaps the only one I know that works in the stomach. It comes like a hard meat, stringy with gristle…More than the drab guads of Caledonia they still flaunt in for Burns suppers and tourism, it steams and twitches in the caulderon of belonging, the long vault of Celtic exile. Every man who hears it is a king in the blood, returned out of the foreign slime to renew his dead alliance. ——George MacBeth, My Scotland, London, MacMillan, 1973.
First set up by clan chiefs keen to bring more tourism into their areas, the Highland Games have flourished beyond all expectations. The first Games grew up around those activities traditionally enjoyed by crofters, to while away long winter evenings—piping, tug o’ war, pillow-fights…But some of these sports have been superseded in recent years by more contemporary pursuits, such as Spotting the Beer Tent and Trying to Find Somewhere to Park. ——Scotland For Beginners, 1314 an’ a’ that, by Rupert Besley, 2001