The Piper of Sandgate

Last year sometime – I don’t really remember when – after an otherwise ordinary day at work, I walked back to my car parked on the Sandgate esplanade and was treated to a very brief but spontaneously delightful musical experience. Sandgate is a northern suburb of Brisbane, about half an hour north of the city, and situated on Bramble Bay, which is between the mainland and Moreton Island. When the tide is in and the sun dances over the water it’s a really gorgeous spot. And when the tide is out it reveals a vast expanse of mud flats which is much less exciting but somehow equally pleasing. Either way, it was always quite nice to start and finish the day with a water view, even if I did spend the hours in between staring at a computer or arguing with the photocopier.

This particular day was really just like any other in terms of the runners and dog-walkers and cyclists that peppered the walking track which runs the whole length of the bay. Except for one thing that I had never seen before. Or since, for that matter. Because the tide was out the huge plain of sand and mud and rock pools was visible, and so a few people were walking out near the water line, maybe a hundred metres or so from the esplanade. But it was the music that grabbed my attention first; from somewhere I could hear bagpipes playing Mull of Kintyre, the song Paul McCartney wrote about his own little patch of Scotland on the Kintyre Peninsula. Strolling aimlessly out on the mudflats was a lone piper, playing to his heart’s content, just the one song over and over again.

Now, I wouldn’t really have described myself as a huge bagpipe fan, but there’s something quite magical about them when heard from a distance, when the sound is just carried by the wind. That, and it’s really quite a nice song. I sat down on the rock wall that afternoon and listened until the sun went down behind me and the breeze turned chilly. Then I got into my car and sang to myself the whole way home.

Mull of Kintyre, recorded here by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea,
My desire is always to be here, oh mull of Kintyre.

Far have I travelled and much have I seen
Dark distant mountains with valleys of green.
Past painted deserts the sunsets on fire
As he carries me home to the mull of Kintyre.

Sweep through the heather like deer in the glen
Carry me back to the days I knew then.
Nights when we sang like a heavenly choir
Of the life and the time of the mull of Kintyre.

Smiles in the sunshine and tears in the rain
Still take me back to where my memories remain.
Flickering embers growing higher and higher,
As they carry me back to the mull of Kintyre.

About Bronwyn

Brisbane-based editor and choral musician
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