Blogging from A - Z about clothes
Once upon a time we lived in an old back-to-front cottage on the edge of a paddock of cows. We only had one neighbour, which was just as well because my older children were learning to play the bagpipes…
Every afternoon mouths fasten around blowpipes. Bags fill with air. Arms wing. Fingers feel for holes. And loud droning sounds float mournfully away over the fields.
Once a week my husband Andy drives the kids into town for their bagpipe lessons. Lessons, practise, lessons, practise… And then one day they are invited to join the local pipe band. They learn a new skill: marching. And they acquire a new item of clothing: a kilt.
Then April rolls around, the month of the Highland gathering where clans meet to toss the caber and throw the hammer, where crafty folks set up stalls to sell shortbread and tartan dressed dolls on sticks, and where pipe bands, from across the state, assemble to fill the air with droning stirring music that can be heard from miles away.
The boys thrust their arms into freshly ironed white shirts. They wind their tartan kilts around their waists. They buckle their belts and attach their sporrans and fix their ties. They pull up long white socks and tie their polished black shoes. They place black caps on their heads. They are ready to march. They are ready to play their pipes with the band.
Band after band marches through the streets of the village. Pipers piping. Drummers drumming. Scotland the Brave fills the air. Tears prick at my eyes. Why does the music of bagpipes stir up our emotions?
The boys march by, stepping in time, cheeks billowing, bags thrust under their arms.
And then afterwards, I can’t find them. “Where were you?” I ask later, and my son Callum replies, “I had to lie down. I felt faint.” Despite legs poking out from the bottom of short kilts, traditional Scottish dress is heavy, not designed for a warm Australian day. I wonder how the men wearing the tall feathered headgear feel.
“I’m writing a post about kilts,” I tell my children. “Did you know I once lived in Scotland?” My girls gather around. They like to hear stories of my childhood. “I was only young, perhaps 4 or 5.”
“Did you have a kilt, Mum?”
“Oh yes! And a Scottish accent too. People used to say, ‘Say something for us!’”
“What did you say, Mum?”
“Anything. They just wanted to listen to my voice.”
“You had a kilt. You had a Scottish accent. You have red hair! Was your hair long, Mum?”
“You are Merida!”
I smile. I am Merida, the star of Pixar’s animated movie Brave. You didn’t know that, did you?
The bagpipes are no longer played. The kilts are no longer worn. The cows have disappeared. Merida is much older.
But the music echoes mournfully on and on…