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stories from some of the world's top pipers

Bob Worrall

The Grade 1 event is streamed live on the internet and that gives thousands of pipe band enthusiasts from all over the world the opportunity to watch the most important event in the pipe band calendar. “The audience for the live streaming is huge. When I was in New Zealand recently I was talking to the Invercargill Pipe Band. They have several levels of bands and a band hall. Well, in New Zealand all the bands have band halls. They were all in their band hall with the wide screen TV and lap top, and it’s not two or three people, it’s dozens, or even hundreds. When BBC sees two or three hits it doesn’t mean two or three people watching, it could be two or three hundred. There are huge band parties throughout Canada, the US and South Africa. I have friends in South Africa who are all in their band halls, fifty or more people watching in each hall, and they’re making up t-shirts and having a real blast. For the bands that can’t make it over every year for financial reasons it keeps them in the loop and keeps them connected.”

It’s a great role, and one that Bob obviously revels in, but it’s not without its problems. “People keep pushing me to say controversial things and I don’t know about that. I have to be guarded because it is live. While the band is playing I will write two or three notes down because they are looking for a comment in the live stream that they can use after the performance, which I don’t talk over. They might take a comment and integrate it. After the band comes off and Jackie interviews the pipe major I might make a couple of comments before we go to the next band. In the lead up to the championship I will have been writing things down and listening to the medleys and MSRs that the bands will be playing and so I have a pretty good idea of what is coming in terms of tunes and everything else.”

Bob’s job is a serious one, and he’s there to give professional commentary on the performance of the bands, but he also gets the opportunity to throw in some amusing anecdotes he has picked up on his travels. “There’s a jig that Field Marshal Montgomery used to play, Sparky Cherry, which I found out came from one of the band’s parties. It was initially an unnamed jig that Ryan Canning wrote and they were playing it after John Paterson’s Mare. At the party they were playing a game where you have to give the name of your first pet and your mother’s maiden name and that is your porn star name. Richard Parkes was Sparky Cherry. I remember going into the booth getting ready, and they came in and asked if I had any questions. I asked if I could say the word ‘porn’ during the live stream, and Graham Mitchell, the director, told me that I couldn’t, so I said that Sparky Cherry was something to do with Richard Parkes’s alter ego. The next day at the Piping Centre, Roddy MacLeod said ‘I heard you yesterday, is that Richard Parkes’s porn name?’ Murray and Patricia Henderson were there with their daughters, and Patricia said to Faye, ‘tell Bob what your porn star name is’. She got all flustered and I said that I knew her mother’s maiden name is Innes. It turns out the dog’s name was Nipples because it kept having litter after litter of puppies, so Faye’s name was Nipples Innes.”

Bob loves getting little titbits like that for use on air, and also loves that fact that the programme is proving to be so popular. “I think they said last year that it was seen in eighty four countries. That is just stunning.”

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