While an occasional few don’t fully appreciate the musical qualities of the bagpipes, I was amazed to discover that the bagpipes are the only musical instrument to have been considered a weapon of war.
April 16, 1746 was a watershed date in Scottish history. At the Battle of Culloden, seven thousand Jacobites armed with swords and daggers faced the muskets and cannons of the King of England’s eight thousand man Hanoverian army. On that day, one thousand Scots and three hundred Hanoverians died on Drummossie Moor.
With the defeat of the Highland Army, the English proclaimed the Act of Proscription, which forbade wearing Tartan, speaking Gaelic, and playing bagpipes. Punishment could include lashes with the cat of nine tails and then imprisonment or worse, death.” http://www.canadaatwar.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=729
James Reid was among the many arrested. His lawyer argued that Reid had carried no weapon into battle – only his pipes,but the judge disagreed, ruling that “a Highland regiment never marched without a piper, and therefore Reid’s bagpipes were an instrument of war.” Reid was hanged drawn and quartered.”http://www.citylab.com/design/2012/04/war-bagpipes-wiping-single-instrument-urban-map/1754/
But attempts to silence the pipes didn’t end with Culloden.The following are summarized from John Metcalfe’s April 13, 2012 article in CityLab. (http://www.citylab.com)
1999: An Edinburgh man launched a Campaign Against Bagpipes. Clive Hibberts and his friends police the city’s famed Royal Mile, picketing pipers. The campaign ultimately fails. (His other campaign against kilts dies, too.)
2007: Ciaran Murtagh and Andrew Jones start the second Campaign Against Bagpipe, arguing: “They all sound the same. These tunes that bagpipers profess to play all sound equally bad. Where is the talent in that? Isn’t it time to make Scotland a quieter place?” This campaign seems to have failed, too.
2008: In Oxford, piper Heath Richardson is banned from busking after four hundred of the area’s shop owners signed a petition calling for his exile.
2008: Edinburgh’s ‘Bloody Bagpipe Crackdown’ Any bagpiper blowing on the Royal Mile is threatened with arrest, and buskers are forced to sign “acceptable behaviour contracts” Piper Shaun Cartwright, was arrested for causing “distress” to bystanders.
2011: Edinburgh passes another law forbidding business from playing bagpipe music from their sidewalk speakers.
2011: In New Zealand, Rugby World Cup officials declare the bagpipe unwelcome at future games. The instrument joins a list of banned items that includes flares and air horns. Sports broadcaster Miles Davis goes on record to say he’s behind the prohibition, because bagpipes sound like “a hyena caught in a gin trap” and are “as bad as the vuvuzela.”
2012, Vancouver, British Columbia. The latest salvo in the War Against Bagpipes landed in Vancouver where the municipal code prohibited busking with drums or bagpipes. The city’s engineering department claimed pipers were interfering with its work.But on April 12, 2012 Mayor Gregor Robertson threw out the anti-pipe ordinance. “The clans won’t stand for it!” he said.
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Source: Seven deadly sins of punctuation
A friend, similarly inclined to pen nefarious fictional crime plots, e-mailed me about a RCMP open house. Always striving to make scenes realistic, it was an opportunity not to be missed. As a former diver, I was drawn to the recovery dive team. Their display showcased state of the art diving gear, and a command van complete with a compressor for refilling air tanks. Working in pairs, the divers wear helmets fitted with cameras linked to surface monitors, providing extra eyes on search areas that often have poor visibility. In my soon to be released book, The Douglas Document – Betrayal, a police dive team recovers a body from the Inner Harbor in Victoria.
At 33,000 pounds, the Tactical Armored Vehicle (TAV) is used for hostage and armed standoff situations. It makes a Hummer look small. The TAV houses eight Tactical Team (TAC) members in a compartment that rivals a bank vault security. The friendly TAC team member on hand to answer questions, advised that just the arrival of the TAV at a scene often results in a quick resolution. Yeah, that would do it for me. When the eight guys in the back of the TAV come out, it’s a big problem for whoever is unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end. In my second Douglas Document book – Retribution – there is a hostage situation, but no TAV or TAC team – just Scott Rockland, my stalwart detective, his crippled partner, Liz Bailey, and an RCMP Sergeant.
The police dogs and their trainers were amazing. To the dogs, it’s all play – fun and games. Police dogs are German Shepherd specially bred for police work. The first was a young dog in training. The second was a three year old animal with that classic police dog look – sleek and powerful. The ability of the dogs to focus in the midst of multiple distraction is truly amazing. Police dogs don’t appear in any of my stories yet – but it could happen.
Forensic identification is always of interest to me. There was a finger print display, and an exercise at matching. The RCMP member explained crime scene examination and techniques for collecting evidence and taking foot imprints. DNA evidence figures prominently in crime investigation – guilt or innocence may depend on a single hair. Items carefully collected at crime scenes are sent to the RCMP forensic laboratory for analysis.
If you have thoughts or information about crime scene investigation, stories you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.
I like soup – all kinds of soup, but especially the thick, hearty home-made soups like Mom used to make. I had a hankering for some the other day. From my childhood days, I envisioned an old favorite – vegetable beef barley. I could almost smell the delicious, steamy aroma flooding the kitchen. My wife didn’t exactly share my vision, as I proceeded to assemble the ingredients.
“That soup is for fall or winter – not spring,” she said, but my mind was made up. I checked out a few recipes, and found that it was really quite basic – if you don’t make your own stock. In my childhood, I remember the pot boiling away all day, with beef bones and various magic ingredients (which I now know were herbs and spices) that Mom would add at various times during the cooking process. I was feeling experimental – and willing to compromise.
An hour and a half later, the pot was filled with a thick, aromatic broth. It wasn’t as good as I remember Mom’s – but then again, memories, especially old, emotion tempered memories, have no equal. The acid test came when my wife took her first tentative, sip- and gave a smile of approval. It really is a very good soup – and filling. Here’s the recipe in case you’re inclined to give it a try.
One (1) cup each of chopped onion, celery and carrots.
Half a pound or so of stewing beef cut into one inch cubes (you don’t have to measure them unless you’re so inclined).
Two 900ml. containers of beef broth. I used salt free.
One 796 ml. can of diced tomatoes – or fresh.
One cup pot barley.
Two tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.
Pepper and salt to taste.
In a dutch oven or large pot, cook the onion, celery an carrot in the olive oil for six minutes, stirring frequently. Add the meat, and continue cooking until the meat is cooked through (seven or eight more minutes).
Add the tomatoes, including liquid, and mix in. Add the beef bullion and bring to a low boil. Add pepper (if desired) and add the barley. Cover, cook at a rolling boil for an hour. For thinner soup, add more bullion or water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
If you have comments about this recipe – or have other favourites, I’d love to hear from you.
If you’re looking for a good read while your soup percolates, The White Limousine is now available as an e-book on Kobo. (www.kobobooks.com/)
This inspirational post shows that it’s never too early – or too late to start writing!
I came across this inspirational infograph by Essaymama on Shannon A. Thompson’s blog. We get to see where our favorite writers started, and how long it took them before they found success in the form of a bestseller.
Some authors started out as young as 13 and others as late as 65. Virginia Woolf started writing at 27 years, but only become popular at 43. Haruki Murakami was a bar manager till 29 years, and Charles Bukovski a postman ’till his 40s. The moral here is clear: it’s never too late to start writing your bestseller. Just don’t give up!
Oh, yeah. And it’s obvious why everyone hates E.L. James 😀
Encounters on the front line: Cambodia: A Memoir
Author: Elaine Harvey, 2014
Publisher: Promontory Press
The year is 1980. Years of civil war, the brutal regime of Pol Pot, the Vietnamese occupation, and starvation have claimed the lives of 2 million Khmer people – one of the greatest human tragedies of our time. Author Elaine Harvey’s book, Encounters on the front line Cambodia: A Memoir, is a historically accurate, thought provoking account of her front line experience as a young nurse working with the Canadian Red Cross in the Cambodian refugee camps.
Harvey holds nothing back. Her writing chronicles the formidable challenges of working in primitive conditions, lacking sanitation and basic supplies, often in life-threatening circumstances. Her feelings and reactions to witnessing such horrible suffering and despair is a testament to her compassion and dedication. Through the tragedy, Harvey sees glimmers of hope in the resilience of the Khmer people that she met and worked with. They truly give testament to the triumph of the human spirit.
Thirty years later, Harvey returns to Cambodia. The country is still healing from the wounds of the past but dealing with present day enemies – poverty and Aids. She takes us inside an orphanage and a hospice and introduces some amazing young people. You won’t want to put this book down – and it’s not one that you will soon forget.
Purchase Encounters on the front line. Cambodia: A Memoir on the author’s face book author page: (url) or, on Amazon.com
Nicolas Rossi’s post provides an enlightening and liberating look at some of the ‘rules’ of writing.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now. The main reason is that I keep coming across several writing rules that make little sense to me. Then, I came across a gem of a post by Constance Hale, “When Shakespeare Committed Word Crimes” on TED.
Constance confirmed what I long suspected: when there is tension in a language between what comes naturally and the rules, it’s because someone has tried to shoehorn the language into their idea of conformity.
Does this mean there are no rules? Not at all. It just means that the ones we are taught in workshops and classrooms are not necessarily the ones that matter to actual readers – as opposed to teachers, agents and editors. So, here are my golden rules; the ones no fiction writer should ever break, in my view:
Rule #1: Don’t let your writing get in the way of your story.
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Wow! It’s October 7th. already. The changing colors of tree leaves, cooler mornings and shorter days, confirms the calendar. Fall is indeed happening, but I feel a bit like Fred, a character in my novel The White Limousine – like I stepped into a time machine at the beginning of summer and was transported to today. I have vivid memories of places and events from summer. I think they’re all real – but are they? Were they just dreams or a false memories? Maybe I’ve been reading too much Steven King. Speaking of The King of the horror genre, I’m just finishing one of his new releases ‘Joyland’. I’ll share my thoughts on that book in a future post.
One of my more recent memories, which I’m sure was real, was a trip to Lethbridge in Southern Alberta. Lethbridge is my hometown, and over the past few years, I’ve been back many times. I’ve become re-acquainted with my old digs. Lethbridge is a vibrant, modern city, but many of the landmarks of my youth; the big bridge, the clock tower downtown, the main library, the train station, the modest house where I grew up are all still intact, and the beauty of the coulees and the Oldman river valley is timeless. I still feel a strong sense of connection and belonging amid the many changes.
September 20th, 2015 was a beautiful, sunny day, a perfect day for Lethbridge’s fifth annual Word On The Street Book and Magazine Festival. The festival evolved from the Toronto Book and Magazine Fair, becoming Word on the Street in 1994. Word On The Street Festivals are now held in seven cities across Canada. Sponsored by the Lethbridge Public Library, the event provides authors with an opportunity to showcase their work, meet and talk with other writers, take in a variety of talks and workshops and hopefully sell a few books. My table display featuring The White Limousine garnered considerable attention. The experience was a memorable success and one I hope to repeat again next year. By then, my next novel, The Douglas Document – Betrayal, will also be on display, but it will be available long before then. Stay tuned!