Although I have only recently taken up the pipe, I have had several encounters with pipes and pipemen
over the years which I suppose must have contributed to my late-flowering interest.
For example, about 10 years ago to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary I took a short Caribbean cruise
(my wife, being in hospital at the time, was unable to accompany me as originally planned). Stopping one day at Grand Cayman
I went ashore and within five minutes had exhausted the small cluster of shops selling black coral, reproduction cutlasses,
and t-shirts with amusing though slightly off-colour slogans. For want of anything better to do, and lured by the offer of
free food and drink, but mostly drink, I took up the offer of a passing sandwich-board man to attend a "time-share presentation"
in a local resort. Subsequent events are hazy in my mind, but I emerged blinking into the daylight three hours later the proud
owner of the first two weeks in October at a villa at Rum Point.
Subsequent years have taught me that the expense of getting there from Falkirk is only exceeded by
the boredom levels when one does. However, I am hopeful that the salesman's assurance that I could easily re-sell this prize
will eventually bear fruit, possibly even before the heat death of the universe.
Anyway, one year to liven up the local scene, while waiting for the next October hurricane to breeze
in, one of the local bars hired someone to portray a character called "Pirate Jack" - he would pose for photographs, pretend
to decapitate the children, and generally make a thorough nuisance of himself. But (and I get finally to my point) he came
equipped with a real live parrot called "Captain Bob" perched on his shoulder and this bird, for no sane reason I could see,
had its own little corncob pipe on a ribbon round its neck which it would occasionally take into its beak and chew on in a
contemplative manner, punctuated with ear-splitting shrieks. When he did this, Pirate Jack - already labouring under the burden
of wearing a thick woollen navy blue jacket in the tropical heat - would wince slightly and say "Will you be quiet Captain
Bob ?" adding as an afterthought "... matey !".
The next year Pirate Jack was absent, but the bar was selling "Pirate Jack t-shirts" - these were navy
blue with dark patches under the arms and streaks of white and green down the back. The first sighting of post-modern humour
West of Cardiff.