“Hello Theodore …” said the priest tentatively, “how are you keeping these days?”
“Oh … jolly well Padre … considering old age is creeping in what?” responded the rich man jovially, “I haven’t seen you for a while … perhaps we should meet for a spot of lunch what?”
“That would be nice … and how is Rose?”
“Oh … she’s very well indeed and looking after me … best thing that happened to me marrying her … It’s nearly a year now since our wedding you know. Mustn’t forget to buy her a present … I’d better tell my secretary to remind me don’t you think old boy?”
“It’s about the wedding I’m phoning you …” said Father Ignatius, “you remember you had someone playing the bagpipes?”
“Yes … Gregor McBurnish … Haven’t seen him since the wedding. Must arrange a spot of lunch with him too …”
“I wonder if he could help me …” asked the priest, “an elderly parishioner has died recently and as it happens he asked for a piper to play by his grave side during the funeral. He was from Dundee …”
“Dash inconvenient that …” interrupted Theodore.
“Being from Dundee?” enquired the priest somewhat confused.
“No not that … just remembered. Must have my tartan kilt cleaned. I wore it at a function last week and forgot all about it!
“Wants a piper by the grave-side you say? No need to bother McBurnish, Padre. I’ll do it … in full costume too …”
“Oh, I couldn’t possibly impose …” said the priest sensing troubles ahead, “you’re such a busy man and …”
“Nonsense … It’s the least I could do for a fellow countryman. I’ll be at the funeral. McBurnish taught me to play the bagpipes you know … I could also play my own composition …”
“Your composition?” asked the priest in trepidation.
“Yes … Chopin Piano Concerto Number 1. Do you know it?”
“Yes … yes … I do know it. It’s a piano piece, not a bagpipes …”
“Oh … I’ve re-written it for the bagpipes Padre.” declared Theodore enthusiastically. “Don’t you worry about that ... It can be played whilst marching up and down or standing still by the graveside. Now you can’t do that with a piano, can you?”
The priest managed to convince Theodore that traditional bagpipes music would be more appropriate and agreed a time and place when he should be there.
He put the phone down nervously and picked up a local map to find the new cemetery which had just been commissioned a few miles out of town in beautiful woodland surroundings. The priest had never been there and his parishioner was one of the first people to be buried in this new location.
On the day in question Theodore dressed in full Scottish costume and drove to the countryside accompanied by his lovely wife Rose who read directions from a map.
Try as they might, they just could not find the new cemetery. They drove up and down country lanes, through beautiful meadows and woodlands, and they were beginning to panic a little as they realized they were lost. There was no one to ask directions from; so they kept searching until they saw an open field, beside a small wooded area, in a secluded piece of land. The digging equipment was still there as well as the crew having a rest; but there were no mourners, nor the hearse, anywhere to be seen.
“Dash it all …” said Theodore as he stopped the car abruptly, “we must be late! I can’t possibly let the poor fellow down like that. You stay here my dear … I’ll soon get things sorted …”
He got out of the vehicle, put on his beret, grabbed the bagpipes and marched towards the men and digging equipment.
He reached the grave and saw a metal box in there.
So he decided to do what he was asked to do. He got his bagpipes ready and played.
He played like he’d never played before; not missing a note and with real Scottish pride. He played all the religious songs he knew … Abide with me … The Lord is my Shepherd … How great Thou Art … and finished with everyone’s favourite … Amazing Grace.
As Theodore walked to his car one of the workers followed him and asked: “What was all that about? I have never seen such a thing before … and I’ve been installing septic tanks for years!”
Luckily, the worker knew where the new cemetery was and he gave them directions to arrive just in time.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
The Loveable Eccentric