POSTED: June 1, 2021
Everyone knows how sound travels over water. And proximity is also a pretty significant factor as well. So, the opportunity to really sleep-in when on a boat in a marina, located not very far from others is often a rarity. While sleeping-in may not be in the cards it is not de rigueur for someone to move up the wake-up time with any extra noise. This rule is pretty universal in marinas where any liveaboards are moored.
A few weeks back that unwritten rule was broken. An older lad, Andrew, who lives on an exceedingly beat up old keel boat a few docks over decided to dust off his bagpipes. He also got it in his head that it might be nice to practice first thing in the morning. YIKES.
I make a point of not putting pictures of myself out there on the internet, but trust me – I am a guy who needs his beauty sleep.
Now anyone who reads my pieces regularly will know that I am more of an independent spirit than a leader but somehow, Ciara, Malcolm, Martha, Gabrielle Gerhardt and a few others got it in their heads that I should speak to him. This was on the line of thought that because he had taken a course with me (Cooking For Leftovers) that I knew him. Well, he is a nice enough lad, but I didn’t really get to know him much as he was not very vocal in the course, but I took up the challenge.
Andrew is a very big guy but a quiet sort and well over there on the shy spectrum. He is a borderline recluse and does not have a cellphone, a computer or most other modern devices but seems to have books in abundance. His boat floats, but its not clear to me that the sails have been out in a long time, and the hull is covered and really looks like a high school science project. None of the wood details have any colour left as they are all grey, decayed or missing. I have never seen him hanging with other people and he seems to keep to himself a lot so I really did not know how it would go.
My buddy Jim, who made his living negotiating transactions, tells me that there are a lot of different techniques for negotiation. I went with the tried-and-true technique of taking a gift to open the door to a dialogue. Before dinner I made up a bunch of canapes, and Malcolm armed me with a nice bottle of Spanish Rioja Gran Reserva, that could keep up with some of the more spicy canapes and a French Sancerre to pair with the more delicate ones, and I strolled over to his slip.
He was very pleased to see me, and we spent some good time chatting, eating and drinking. We have both had our first shots for Covid and stayed about a metre and a half to two meters apart.
I had the opportunity to talk to him about food and wine pairing and how well the two very different wines matched with the different canapes. It was a shameless introduction to talking about other pairings that work really well and some that are not as good. This got us to the notion of pairing bag pipes with my morning sleeping schedule.
The meandering chat covered a lot of ground and as I had consumed a warmup glass of wine before leaving En Plein Air to fortify my negotiation skills, and I think he had consumed a few beers before I arrived, a transcript of our dialogue would not be helpful here.
But some good ground was covered. The key thing that we established was that there are two pairing issues with his bagpipes. The first is that they are a piercing bit of auditory chaos at the best of times and best appreciated when fully awake. The second (and I take full credit for this bit of brilliance) is that it was not Andrews fault that the traditional bagpipe repertoire is more suited to a royal wedding, or the bestowing of a military honour, and is not up to his true musical capabilities. I had brought with me some sheet music of a song from a fellow Canadian, hoping that Andrew knew how to read music and as it turned out he did, having studied the piano as a kid.
He was really pleased with the ideas I presented and agreed that in these difficult Covid times playing something like that tune at about five pm would be a signal to everyone that we had collectively made it through another Covid day, and it was time to relax.
I went back to En Plein Air quite pleased with my outing and to prepare dinner for the little group that we eat with. Over dinner I did not share with any of them any details of our discussion, only that I was hopeful that the next morning would be quiet.
I awoke at the crack of nine the next day, feeling refreshed with no bagpipes to be heard. All day I lived with the anticipation of what might happen at five. And yes, at about 5:10, a little scratchy at first, but then really getting its momentum, Leonard Cohens Hallelujah came wafting across the water. It was like a call to arms and much of the marina was clapping and cheering when it ended.
It is now almost two weeks later, and Andrew has become the popular kid in the schoolyard. On a regular basis people are bringing him sheet music and bottles wine, and many now are seen sitting out with a drink, for the 5 pm ish piping out of the day.
Its all about the pairing.
P.S. While Hallelujah has become a regular, the range of sheet music he is getting is quite formidable and last night While My Guitar Bagpipes Gently Weeps was a crowd pleaser.
Earlier today, Martha just took him some Coltrane music, so we all live in anticipation of that.