Pancake an Pipes
by: Wheeler, Les
Originally a story fae the Languedoc adapted an owerset in Scots bi Les Wheeler
Hiv ye ivver thocht aboot nicknames? Some are nae that hard tae jalouse. If ye’ve reid hair fowk caa ye Ginger or if yer taal they micht caa ye Lofty. Sometimes they can be a bittie coorse; Specky for a loon or quine fa weers glesses; Fatty for reasons we’ll nae gyan intil here. Skinny is jist as bad forbye Slim disnae seem tae be sae bad. Some nicknames seem odd kine, like Topper for somebody caad Broon an some hae tae dae wi yer darg. Doughy for a baker or Sparky for an electrician. Sometimes they are gaen tae fowk for gey odd reasons an sic wis the case wi a piper caad Peter fa hid got himself the nickname Pancakes an did something for the gweed o aa the fowk in Scotland. This is the tale o Peter Pancakes the Piper.
Peter bade in a ferm caad Muckle Glen Ferm wi his wife an young loon. It micht hae bin caad Muckle Glen Ferm but thir wisna muckle o’t forbye it wis in a gey muckle glen. Peter hid a fyow yowes, a puckle kye for milkin an the umman body hid hens an deuks for thir eggs an feathers. But Peter wis best kent as a piper an fan onybody wis haein a dunce, waddin, concert or ony kine o a pairty they wid ask Peter tae come an play. Fae his pipin Peter wid mak a bittie o siller tae add tae fit he made aff o the ferm.
Ae day Peter hid bin askit tae gyang an play at a waddin in a village on the ither side o a muckle wid that streetchit up an ower the tap o the glen. Peter wis happy tae dae it an set aff throwe the wids wi his pyock on his back tae cairry his pipes an some breid an crowdie cheese his wife hid packit for him in case he got hungry on his traivels.
He got tae the village an wint tae the haal far the waddin wis tae be held. He piped the bride intae the kirk an played for duncin efter an aabody hid a gweed time tae themsels. The bride’s fowk wir affa pleased wi Peter’s pipin an gaed him a richt gweed fee an, for they kent he’d a lang wye tae gyan hame, a muckle pyock o pancakes. Peter wis fair pleased wi that an jist as gloamin wis comin in aboot he set aff on the pathie throwe the wids.
Peter wis stridin alang the path, weel intae the wids by noo, fan he thocht he heard a noise ahin him. He keekit aboot, saa naething, an gaed on his wye. Syne he heard a noise again. Fit wis that? Aye, thir wis a snappin an scraichin as tho somebody or something his waakit ower some broken
brunches or leaves. The meen wis shinin brichtly an the win wis russlin the leaves an brunches o the trees makkin ghaistly shadas jink an dunce aboot in the licht o the meen. Peter kent thir wis wolves in the wids but he hidna seen een for wiks. Still, it wis getting near the hinner eyn o the year an the wolves wid be fattenin themsels up for the winter. Peter kept waakin but he wis gyan a bittie quicker noo.
Syne he heard it again. Certes, something wis ahin him. He swung aboot an in the caul meenlicht he saa the weel-kent ootline o a wolf wi its twa yalla een leukin back at him. Fit wis Peter tae dae? He kent he couldna rin fester nor for as lang’s a wolf an he couldna fecht it without a weapon o some kine. He hurried on syne hid an idea. He opened his pyock, taen oot een o the pancakes an flung it taewards the wolf. The wolf got tae the pancake gaed it a sniff, syne began tae ait it. Peter kept gyan.
But the wolf seen ait the pancake sae Peter chucked it anither een an hurried on. He wis getting a bittie worried. Efter a filie he’d got rid o half a dizzen pancakes but ilka time, forbye he got a bittie further awa, it didna slow the wolf doon by ower muckle. The wolf, its greedy yalla een fierce wi hunger wid gie a ghaistly howl an lope quickly efter Peter. Things wir leukin roch an they wir gyan tae get waur.
Fan Peter taen anither leuk roon he got an even bigger fricht. Noo, thir wirna twa hungry yalla een leukin at his but fower…syne echt…syne saxteen…an syne… weel, ye get the wye o’t. A hale jing bang o orra craturs seemed tae settled on Peter being thir supper that nicht. Peter wis fair dumfoonert. Fit could he dae?
‘Weel,’ thocht Peter, ‘I’m nae gyan doon athoot playin a last air on my pipes!’ He got his pipes oot o the pyock, gaed them a gweed puff o win, squeezed the bag tae get oot a note, hid a wee ficher wi the drones syne set aff alang the pathie playin a stotter o a quick mairch.
As he wis playin Peter keepit leukin roon tae see fu close the wolves wir getting. Efter a fyow meenities he leukit aroon again an could hae sworn thir wirna as mony yalla een followin him. Na, he wis richt! Thir wirna near as mony as thir hid bin. Seen thir wis saxteen…syne echt…syne fower…syne twa an syne neen ava! The pipes seem tae hae driven awa the wolves. Peter’s sough o relief could hae bin heard miles awa. Saved by his pipes.
Peter hurried on hame an burst intae the kitchie far his wife wis collougin wi a neebor – it wis her freen fae the local village, Mrs. Mucklecleck fa wis a fine wifie but fair likit tae spik an spier wi aabody.
‘Gweed be here, Peter, fit’s adee wi ye? Yer affa reid an breathless.’
Peter catchit his win an tellt the tale o his encoonter wi the wolves in the wids.
‘An the pancakes stoppit them aitin ye up?’ spiert Mrs. Mucklecleck
‘Na, na,’ replied Peter, ‘It wis the pipes. They didna like the soond o the pipes. That’s fit scared them aff.’
Mrs. Mucklecleck got tae her feet, ‘Weel, I’ll need tae be awa. Thirs a lot o fowk in the pairish wid like tae hear this story.’ An haein hin her say she wis aff an rennin. She’d a lang nicht ahead o her telling aabody aboot fit she thocht wis noo her ain tale.
An, sure eneuch, hunners o fowk seen heard the story an began tae caa Peter ‘Pancakes’. Peter didna mine an taen’t in gweed pairt but it wis the ither half o the tale that some fowk foun interesting an that wis the bit that wis important for aul Scotia.
Wolves eased tae be affa common in Scotland. Fowk begantae winner aboot the effect o the soond o pipes on wolves an seen pipers coul be heard aa ower the country daein thir bit tae keep the orra craturs awa. Lairds made thir pipers play up on the hichts o thir castle waas, pipers wint mairchin up na doon streets an roon lochs, they played outside haas an kirks an hale bands wir formed in toons an pairishes. An it wisna lang afore naebody could mine fan they’d last seen or heard o a wolf. Scotland hid become a wolf-free zone!
Noo, I’m sure ye’ve aa seen pipe bands playin at festivals or heelan games or entertainin in parks an playgruns. Solo pipers appear at Burns’ Suppers, waddins, concerts, dunces an aa sorts o events far a rael bittie o style is noat an maybe it’s maist impressive fan a solo piper plays at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Fowk come fae aa ower the warld tae see an hear performers at the Tattoo that’s held ilka year at the muckle castle in Scotland’s capital city. Sodjers, sailors an airmen come fae aa the airts tae appear there an for military bands it can be the verra best time o thir musical lives tae appear in sic a settin.
But the highlicht o the show comes at the hinner eyn o the nicht fan aa the performers hae left the arena an hich, hich up in the battlements o the castle a piper plays the the last tune o the nicht. The notes rin oot o the pipes an seen spreads ower the braes an burns o Auld Reekie, syne on tae ferms an firths, lochs an lang rigs, muirs an mountains till a quilt o pipe music haps the hale country.
Noo, thir is ae thing ye can be sure o. If ye are iver lucky eneuch tae get tickets tae see the Tattoo ye can be sure that, aa because o Peter Pancakes the Piper, as ye mak yer wye hame efter the show ye’ll nae be aiten bi hungry, orra, yalla-eened wolfes!