Earlier this year, the invitation was extended by the Cape Town Highlanders to the SA Irish
to provide pipers for the 2002 Golden Jubilee Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The invite was accepted
by 4 pipers: Craig Herwill, Patrick Dean, Andy Dippenaar and Dave Harris. Only once we had committed
to the trip, did our Bearded Leader present us with the encyclopedia of music which we had to learn.
Our mad scramble to evacuate the premises was thwarted by Craig, who used underhanded tactics by
stating that he would buy the next round. He obviously never attended the school of fair play.
While we were, at the time, right in the middle of a VERY compressed and stressful competition
season, we managed to find time to have a few Tattoo practices at various homes, which were more
often than not occasions of great hilarity. One Sunday, while we were all trying to learn Willie,
the Royal Fendersmith, affectionately termed "FenderBender", a piper of great distinction was heard
to make the astute observation: "What a stupid place NOT to put a B", as his fingers insisted on
adding this fine note to the tune. After picking ourselves up off the floor, twice, we managed to
play the tune, eventually. This profound comment has wormed it's way into the annals of SA Irish history.
Finally, July 27 dawned, and after competing in the Championship Finals, we meandered off to the
airport, met up with the contingent from 1 Medical Battalion who were also forming part of Cape Town
Highlanders, and said our emotional farewells to loved ones and friends. We were finally on our way !!
Landing at Heathrow on the early morning of July 28, we found ourselves with 12 hours to kill
before flying to Edinburgh. We caught the tube into London, and wandered around Piccadilly Circus
and Covent Garden. Craig had the dubious priviledge of paying £4.95 for an alcohol-free Becks in a
doughnut shop in Piccadilly, which still horrifies him. We found some marvellous little pubs in Covent
Garden though, which appeased him a little.
We took off from Heathrow and arrived in Edinburgh that evening, and guess what? It was raining.
I hear you say "Rain in Scotland?? How odd." Bravely soldiering through the wet stuff with our luggage,
which didn't weigh far short of a ton, we loaded the bus, and off we went to Redford Cavalry Barracks,
which was to be our home for the next 4 weeks. Upon arrival, we were shown to our barracks which were
on the second floor, and made our acquaintance with the 2 flights of stairs which needed to be climbed
to get there. Climbing these things never got easier, not once, for our whole stay there. Their only
redeeming feature were the fantastic "stair parties" we had on them on
numerous occasions. On the bright side, in the barracks were members of
the Cape Town Caledonians, also forming part of Cape Town Highlanders,
with their Pipe Major, Tony Reis. The wicked twinkle in his eye was the
beginning of a lasting friendship. The wicked twinkle was quite apt by
the way. He is a very naughty boy. (We love ya, Tone!!)
After unpacking and settling in, and meeting the rest of the crowd, we sampled the haute
cuisine on offer in the mess, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was palatable.
So began an experience which will never be forgotten.