Hark when the night is falling,
Hear! Hear the pipes are calling,
Loudly and proudly calling,
Down thro' the glen.
The bagpipes. I love the sound of them. It always evokes a feeling of pride. A sense that things are good with me. That I belong somewhere. That I am part of a proud race. The haunting beauty of a pipers lament can make a grown man cry. A march can raise the spirits like nothing else.
These strong emotions are really all I have left of my Scottish heritage. For I was born in England. Mother was a Scot, and I presume my Father was too.
I never knew my Father, and it was difficult to get anyone in my dysfunctional family to talk about him. My sister told me he came from Bedford, which is in England, but I don't think he originated there.
The only photo I have of him, is a faded one of him and Mother on their wedding day. He is wearing his army uniform. He was a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Kings Own Scottish Borderers. He is wearing tartan trews. All these facts lead me to strongly suspect that he too was a Scot. I am happy to leave my investigations there. I want to be a Scot.
He chose not to be part of my life. That was his decision freely made. As far as I know, nobody forced him to make it. For my part, when I was a child growing up, I cannot recall one instance when I wished he was there for me. Although there were men that I wished could be my Father.
When I became a Father myself I underwent a short period of wondering about him, but it quickly passed. It was not an urgent need. My Sister who was much older than me, told me a few things about him. But she was disparaging, and in view of the fact he chose to abandon me, I was inclined to believe her negative assessment of him. He did however leave me one important legacy. He made me determine to be the best Dad I could be.
I am upset with both my parents that they chose to live in England when I was born. That decision of theirs, coupled with the fact that I was then brought up in a children's home in England, makes me feel unable to declare myself a true Scotsman. Also I do not have the beautiful highland brogue of my Mother. Instead I speak without an accent at all. Someone, in a fit of anger, once called me a "posh English bastard." How hurtful, and how bloody ironic was that?
I started off by talking about my love of the bagpipes. This love could be explained by a conversation I had with my Sister in which she cast doubt on my legitimacy. She thought perhaps that she and I did not have the same Father. The conversation went something like this...
"Mum told me she had an affair, before you were born. When Dad was away in the army."
"What are you implying?"
"That you are not Dad's son."
"So who is my Dad?"
"The Inverness pipe band!"
Honestly, my Sister. Such a joker. At least I think she was joking. But I do love the bagpipes!