The Horns of Elfland, softly blowing.

I was minding my own business. Honest. I was there with a chainsaw cleaning up an old hedge. It’s one of those jobs that my Grandfather really should have got round to, and my Dad never had time to do. So we have a hedge which consists of clumps of Sycamore. They come up from a common bole and some of them are trees in their own right, they’re over a foot across.
So I come along with the chainsaw and cut them off so young growth can come up and we get back the hedge my grandfather knew. Some of them go out over the sunken lane. These I drop off into the lane, they’re beyond saving, and will be next winter’s firewood. If I don’t there’s the danger that if we get a good westerly gale when they’ve got leaves on, they’ll fall over, tearing their roots out. Still I leave one nice standard per set of roots, and all the smaller stuff. With the big stuff gone, I’ll come back and lay the lesser stuff so that it’ll make some pretence of being a hedge. In twenty years it’ll be a good ‘un.
Anyway there I was, when I heard the sound of Bagpipes. I stopped the chainsaw and listened again. I caught it again. I looked round, someone with an unusual ring-tone? There was no sign of anyone. Something on a car or tractor radio? Again there was one tractor working and it doesn’t have a working radio. Anyway the pipes stopped.
So I carried on, and as I dropped the next big sycamore I could hear over the chainsaw vague hints that the pipes had started again. I stopped the saw and put it down, there were the bagpipes again. By this time I came to the conclusion they were coming from the direction of the main road, near the church. That would put them just over half a mile away. ‘Leccy Board have one of their transformer boxes there. Someone working on it and leaving the van radio on perhaps?
Let us get this in perspective here, we’re ninety miles south of Carlisle, pipers are only slightly more common than unicorns. I think that I can say with absolute confidence, I have never stood on any of our hedges and heard the bagpipes.
At about this time the chainsaw ran out of juice, and the chain needed tightening. So I collected old Jess who’d been watching the whole performance with the analytical eye of an elderly border collie. Now, the pipes had stopped and other than a bit of traffic on the main road, it was quiet. I got home, time for a bit of dinner.
My lady wife arrives back, she’d opened up the church for a burial in our church yard. I asked how the burial had gone. “Fine.” Then she added. “And, they had a piper.”


3 thoughts on “The Horns of Elfland, softly blowing.

  1. willmacmillanjones January 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm Reply

    Bagpipes, indeed? Perhaps it was to reassure the dear departed he had indeed gone to a better (pipe free) place…

    • jwebster2 January 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm Reply

      Strangely enough I hadn’t thought of the departed as particularly Scots, which just goes to show.
      But somehow it was a bit fey, on a grey day in January with the rain just holding off, and getting occassional snatches of the pipes in the far distance

  2. M T McGuire January 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm Reply

    That’s the best way to hear bagpipes; outside and in the distance close to they are loud enough to rupture the sturdiest ear drums.



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