Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Mobs and tumults in the streets"

Our nearby city of Los Angeles apparently has a group of freakishly tall men who earn millions and millions of dollars by donning gaily coloured satin underwear and attempting to put an inflated rubber ball into a hoop more times than some other city's group of freakishly tall men similarly attired. According to this morning's paper, the Los Angeles group was able to do this more times than any other city's group. In celebration of this feat, the local population smashed a lot of windows, set fire to some automobiles, and broke into a neighbourhood shoe store and burnt the stock of shoes.

I was not involved in this, which, it seems, is a break with tradition:


In situations where popular feelings of dissent did surface, pipers were often considered to be somehow inflammatory. The town council in Aberdeen in 1731 felt it necessary to ban Andrew Ferguson, a piper, from playing at night, as this had the effect of raising "mobs and tumults in the streets". "Burgh magistrates or the officers on the ground could be bloodied, beaten and imprisoned by ferocious crowds, rarely comprising less than thirty or forty people, often more, who used stones, clubs, staves, pitchforks and occasionally firearms to obtain their ends ... Such crowds invariably included a drummer or piper."
--"Welcome Home My Dearie: Piping in the Scottish Lowlands 1690-1900", Peter Stewart, 2008, pg 23 citing Thomas Johnston's "History of the Working Classes in Scotland".