Sing us a song you’re the bagpipe man, sing us a song tonight. ‘Cause we’re all in the mood for a melody, and you’ve got us feeling all right.
Now that I think about it though, how would a piper sing a song? I mean, an Irish piper could, but not a Scottish one.
You did know there was a difference between Irish and Scottish bagpipes, right? I can only help you so much, people. Some things you just have to learn on your own.
Not that people will learn on their own. Well, not on purpose, at least. Most people, I mean. Not everyone. Take you for instance. You’re reading one of my Oddity posts. That means you will, (in all probability), learn something. And I’m going to go ahead and assume that you are reading this of your own free will. I’d hate to think there’s someone out there who forces people to read my posts.
That would be horrible. It could also be the plot for a horror movie. Not a good horror movie, mind you.
But a large portion of the population is perfectly happy to not learn a damn thing on any given day. They have too much to worry about in their daily lives. Like, do they need to pick up milk? Did Junior bite someone at daycare again? Is Wifey cheating on me with her sister? (good movie...look it up...).
A lot of people don’t even watch the news or read a paper on a regular basis. They get their news from friends or coworkers. Or in small little soundbites from the internet or radio.
I don’t think it is an actual desire to not learn. I think it’s more a result of todays hectic lifestyle. We have so much to do, and only a set amount of time to do it in. I have nothing to do on a daily basis, except go to work for 8 hours, so all my free time is mine to do with as I wish. And, I choose to spend it learning things. (Shut up! Learning how to kill that one boss in that one video game is still learning!).
But take my friend Matt as an example He is my age, (47). He has a wife, two kids and a full time job. He gets up at 6am and goes to bed around 11 or 12pm. And he’s constantly doing stuff the entire time he’s awake. He gets up, helps get the kids up and ready while getting himself ready. Goes to work. Comes home and helps with the kids and dinner. Then it’s activities like sports and scouts, then home to help with homework. Then it’s family time util the kids go to bed. Then he and his wife take care of the things they can’t while the kids are underfoot. Then they go to bed. On the weekends, the only difference is, there’s no job to go to.
On the rare occasion when Matt is free for a day and we can hang out, he’s always amazed that I do so little, yet never have time to get anything done.
Well, it’s not that I do nothing. it’s just that I’m doing different things. He might spend two hours taking his oldest to soccer practice. I might spend those two hours reading about the 555 Timer. When he’s done, his kid is tired and he’s a happy dad. When I’m done, I know how a 555 Timer works and how I can use it to help power my LED display.
Anyway, some people don’t have time to learn, some don’t want to learn, and some try to learn all the time. So, how’s about I stop rambling and start you learnin?
Bag of pipes. When we think of bagpipes, we think of the traditional Scottish ones. The Irish use a different sort called Uilleann pipes. The Scottish version requires the piper to continually fill the air bladder while the Irish kind use a self filling bellows. (ok....so I decided to learn you something extra today...)
Most Americans hear bagpipes when they see coverage of a funeral for a police officer or a firefighter. Sometimes they are played at military funerals.
But they are more commonly played at funerals in the United Kingdom. Military ones, at least. It has to do with how the Scotts used the pipes and sometimes horns, to intimidate the English knights before battles. The Scotts were fierce warriors, and it was traditional to play music at funerals. The English started playing the pipes at military funerals as a sign of honor to the fallen warrior. (that’s a major simplification of the story, but I have to move on to todays subject otherwise this post will be a book).
Speaking of British military funerals, there were a lot of them in the years 1914 to 1918. But today, we’re going to look at just two of them: Private John Henry Parr and Private George Edwin Ellison.
John Parr was a typical English boy. That is, he saw the military as a way to improve his lot in life. So in 1912, at the age of 15, he enlisted in the army. He had to lie about his age to do so, but that was fairly common in those days. For the enlistee, they were assured of steady pay, a roof over their heads, and at least two meals a day. Something he wasn’t guaranteed in civilian life.
In the summer of 1914, the world seemed like it was going to hell. The assassination of some Austrian Duke had the world on the brink of war. John was sent to Belgium to protect Englands ally from the increasingly belligerent Germans.
On August 21, 1914, John and another soldier were doing reconnaissance ahead of the British lines when they encountered a German patrol. John stayed behind to give his partner time to get the information back to their lines. John was killed in the ensuing skirmish.
Private John Parr became the first British soldier killed in World War One. He was just 17 years old. His death did allow his partner to report on the location of the Germans, though. And that led to the first battle of Mons. Parr was eventually buried in the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery just south east of Mons.
Private George Ellison did what a lot of young English men did, he joined the army. For him, it was a way to learn about life and build up a little money to get him started in life. In 1912, he left the army and got married, and got himself a job in the coal mines.
But in 1914, Ellison was recalled back into the army. Things were going to hell and they needed experienced troops while they trained the noobs. Ellison fought in many battles in the war, but the first was the battle Mons.
Ellison survived that battle and retreated with the allies back towards Paris until they were able to stop the German advance and start the stalemate that would be the next four years.
Ellison fought in many battles and was wounded at least once during his service. In the late summer of 1918, Ellison was part of the force that retook the city of Mons from the Germans.
It was through the outskirts of Mons that Ellison and his platoon were patrolling through on the morning of November 11, 1918. The troops were giddy. They knew this was their last patrol. Word had comedown that an armistice had been signed and was scheduled to take effect at 11am.
At 9:30am, Private George Ellison was killed by a snipers bullet. He was the last British soldier to be killed in World War One.
Ellison was buried in a plot in the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery just south east of Mons.
Many years later it was noticed that the graves of Parr and Ellison were 15 feet apart, and they were facing each other.
The arrangement of the graves was not planned. In fact, it took over 50 years before the significance of the two graves was discovered.
There are some who claim it was intentional that the two were buried that way. However, Parr was placed in the cemetery by the Germans. The allies lost Mons in the battle and Parrs body wasn’t recovered. The Germans informed the British of his death and took care of the burial.
Ellison was moved to the military cemetery from the temporary grave and his body was placed in the next available plot. At the time of his burial, it wasn’t known he was the last British soldier to be killed in the war.
It wasn’t until many years later when a historian was doing research to document the first and last deaths of the war that the names of the two was discovered. And when their graves were located, well......
I think this constitutes an oddity. And since I’m the one writing this post, my opinion is the one that counts.