A High­land Fling In Shang­hai

Playing­ing drums with­ith a pipe band­band, Kay Condie has seen the world!

My Weekly - - Contents -

Real life story

ormed in 1887, Wal­lace­s­tone and District Pipe Band in Scot­land is one of the old­est civil­ian bands in the world, and 47-year-old Kay Condie is proud to be part of it.

“I have a huge fam­ily, and over the years no less than 16 of us have been band mem­bers! I started learn­ing the chanter as a child, switched to High­land danc­ing for many years and

Fthen at the age of 39 I vol­un­teered to learn tenor drum. It’s very vis­ual so it’s in­ter­est­ing for au­di­ences. Since then I’ve also taken up bag­pipes, which is def­i­nitely harder but I’m get­ting there.”

Kay loves the so­cial as­pect of the band and was de­lighted when they were asked to per­form at a 70th birthday party – par­tic­u­larly when she dis­cov­ered it was tak­ing place in Shang­hai!

“Our Drum Ma­jor, Bud Inglis, got talk­ing to a wealthy busi­ness­man who was look­ing for a pipe band to play at his fa­ther’s party. One of the main re­quire­ments was that the band wear the Num­ber 1 uni­form – tu­nic, white spats, plaid, knee­length horse­hair sporran and a big feather bon­net. Luck­ily, we fit­ted the bill!”

The week-long all­ex­penses-paid trip was be­yond Kay’s wildest dreams and nat­u­rally, the party it­self was the high­light.

“It took place in the re­cep­tion room of the most beau­ti­ful ho­tel. The guests were a mix­ture of ex-pats and Chi­nese peo­ple, all seated at the fan­ci­est ta­bles. We marched in, formed into a horse­shoe shape and be­gan play­ing – Scot­landtheBrave, Amaz­ingGrace,Stir­ling Bridge, B all the favourites…

The au­di­ence went wild aand Nick Wat­son, whose bbirth­day it was, was over the mmoon. It was such a buzz!”

With the cel­e­bra­tions oover, the band were free to ddo some sight­see­ing, lit­tle rre­al­is­ing that they them­selves wwould be the most ea­gerly aap­pre­ci­ated sight that day!

“We de­cided to have a band pho­to­graph against the fa­mous river, The Bund. Just as we were get­ting into po­si­tion, crowds of peo­ple started form­ing round us and ev­ery time we tried to move, some­body would ask for a pho­to­graph. It was like be­ing a celebrity.

“Some­one threw their child into my Un­cle Tommy, the Pipe Ma­jor’s, arms for a snap and when the po­lice turned up in their buggy, even they wanted a pic­ture! In the end we stood there for three hours. It was amaz­ing.”

As their time in Shang­hai drew to a close, Kay planned a spe­cial good­bye.

“Dur­ing our stay, the owner of the lo­cal bar had been so help­ful, so the band de­cided to put on a wee show there as a to­ken of their ap­pre­ci­a­tion and I did a High­land Fling!”

Kay wasn’t back on home soil for long be­fore an­other ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to travel came her way – this time to Rus­sia.

“The Moscow Mil­i­tary Tat­too was cel­e­brat­ing its 10th an­niver­sary and had in­vited the In­ter­na­tional Celtic Pipes and Drums band, made up of 120 mem­bers from all over the world, to play. They needed an­other tenor drum­mer and I jumped at the chance.”

How­ever, Kay’s ini­tial ex­cite­ment faded when it looked as though red tape might spell the end of her Red Square dream.

“I flew to Brus­sels where I was sup­posed to catch my con­nect­ing flight to Moscow but there was a ground strike. I made the plane with min­utes to spare, not even think­ing about my lug­gage, and five hours later I ar­rived in Moscow with no suit­case, no uni­form and no drum!

“For three days I prac­tised on the cob­bles of Red Square with a bor­rowed drum and beat­ers, wear­ing the same clothes and high heels!

For days I prac­tised in Red Square with a bor­rowed drum, wear­ing high heels

“My suit­case and in­stru­ments fi­nally turned up on the Satur­day morn­ing ready for the show on Satur­day night and I was so relieved.”

The band’s Tat­too per­for­mance was a tri­umph and led to an in­vi­ta­tion to visit the Krem­lin.

“We were given VIP passes and as soon as we got in­side we were in awe. The doors were huge, the ceil­ings were in­tri­cately painted and there was gold wher­ever you looked. Se­cu­rity guards were at ev­ery turn, ready to give you a row if you stepped off the car­pet and on to the stun­ning floors!”

While the se­cu­rity guards seemed to con­form to a rather stern stereo­type, Kay ac­tu­ally found a real warmth in the Rus­sian peo­ple.

“Af­ter my per­for­mance in Moscow I was lucky enough to be se­lected to play in Khabarovsk, a city in Rus­sia’s Far East, at the Amur Waves Fes­ti­val. The peo­ple there were re­ally, re­ally friendly.

“We played march­ing down a street and, although some of them were pover­tys­tricken, they were so pleased to see us.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence moved Kay and she recog­nises just how much the pipe band has brought to her life.

“Shang­hai and Moscow are places I would never have dreamt of go­ing oth­er­wise and I’d never even heard of Khabarovsk! “Play­ing drums in the band has opened up the world for me and I’m so glad that it has.”

Danc­ing in the bar

Kay is proud to be a bandmem­ber

Un­cle Tommy’s celeb mo­ment

Just one of many pic­tures taken of band mem­bers be­side The Bund

Per­form­ing in Moscow

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.