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I was walking through town today and saw three pipers dressed in full highland regalia – kilts, sashes, bearskins, the lot, and as usual I was taken by the sound of skirling lament.

But then I thought of Ian, my cousin, a red-haired Glaswegian ex-Marine with three tours of Ulster under his belt. He’s a lovely bloke but he’s frightening. Not particularly tall or well-built or anything, as emotional and ready to cry as they come, and he’s not a kid anymore either, but in a fight he’s just insane.

I had trouble making a link between the pipers in their formalised ‘highland’ wear and my cuz, Ian, who’s a sort of urban berserker.

History and tradition lead us along a certain path. But life follows other routes entirely.

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