Many people love to hate bagpipes. Everyone from William Shakespeare to Alfred Hitchcock has held them in contempt. For some, they are almost a form of punishment. Last week, a frustrated motorist blasted bagpipe music in the faces of Insulate Britain protestors on the M25 before he was stopped by police.
Most pipers will tell you they are sick of hearing that the definition of a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the bagpipes and doesn’t. Equally, someone once told me the joke that the bagpipes are an ingenious breathalyser test: you blow into the bag and if the noise that comes out doesn’t want to make you kill yourself, you aren’t drunk enough.
Despite bagpipes’ supposed unpopularity, though, bagpiping is in its ascendancy in Britain.