1. When a piper has been arranged for a mess dinner, it is recommended that mess managers/PMC?S use this procedure as a basic guideline. However, these suggestions are not meant to take precedence over any regimental traditions.
2. The mess manager should ensure that a room is allocated for the piper to use as a tuning/dressing area. This room (if possible) should be located far enough from the guests so that the piper will not be heard whilst tuning his/her Bagpipe, yet near enough for easy communication with regard to cues, timings, or changes.
3. In setting up the dining – room, a clear aisle/passage must be left around the perimeter to permit the piper to march freely whilst playing.
4. The mess manager must understand that if the piper is to play during periods of the dinner, that he is doing a musical performance. The piper and mess manager should coordinate so that the performance is done between servings and pick up of plates. The same situation applies for wine servers. It not only detracts from the musical performance but also makes it difficult for the piper to march around when he has to worry about possibly colliding with kitchen staff and wine servers.
5. If a Brass & reed ensemble has been arranged, again the mess manager/piper and Bandmaster must coordinate playing times/breaks etc.
6. 1st Alert ? Fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled time for dinner, the piper should position himself/herself at a pre ? determined spot and at the halt, play a short tune as a ” warning for dinner.” When finished playing he/she returns to the tuning room.
7. 2nd Alert ? Five minutes prior to the scheduled time for dinner, the piper should position himself/herself at a pre-determined spot and at the halt, play a short tune as a “final warning for dinner.” When finished playing, he/she should move to his/her position ready to play the diners into the dinner hall.
8. March in ? On a cue from the mess manager or PMC, the piper leads the procession into the dining room playing an appropriate tune, and marches counter clockwise around the perimeter so that his/her Bagpipes will not collide with or be caught by anything such as curtains. The piper should continue playing at the halt in an area that will not interfere with the diners until all pers are by their seat then stop playing. Once grace is given and the diners are taking their seats, this is the time for the piper to depart the room.
9. The Dinner Performance – The number of performances by the piper will be determined by the size of the dinner/how many courses and if there is a Brass & reed Band in attendance. The piper and Bandmaster should coordinate musical matters.
10. The Port ? The piper should be given a fifteen-minute warning by the mess manager prior to playing in the port in order that he/she may prepare. On cue from the mess manager, the piper leads the wine stewards into the dining room playing an appropriate tune and position himself/herself at a pre ? determined spot. He/she continues to play selections of his/her own choosing until given a cue by the mess manager to cease playing. Normally, this would be when all the port has been poured. The piper then marches out.
11. Piper?s Toast – This is traditional, and given in Gaelic. If it is required, the piper pipes back into the dining ? room and marches counter clockwise to the headtable and ceases playing and halts when reaching the official host, who rises to greet the piper. The piper salutes, if required. The mess manager proffers a tray upon which there are two Quaichs (special silver cups) or glasses, each containing the pre ? determined drink. The official host gives one of these to the piper and keeps the other. It is customary for the PMC to request silence from the diners at this point by rapping the gavel. The piper then raises his/her Quaich and says:
“SLAINTE” (Pronounced Slawn ? cha) meaning “Good health”
To which the official host replies: “SLAINTE MHATH”(Pronounced Slawn ? cha Vha) meaning “Good health to you”
They both then drain the contents of their Quaich in one drink and the Quaichs are returned to the tray. The piper salutes, if required, and asks the official host for permission to pipe out. Upon receiving permission the piper continues his/her counter march circuit and plays an appropriate tune whilst marching out of the dining area.
If there is a requirement for the piper to remain after the dinner, this must be stated before the toast, for the piper?s toast is considered his/her dismissal for the evening.
The piper?s toast should only be given after the toast to the Queen, and “never” earlier in the evening.
12. It is not mandatory to schedule all of the routines, however, if the full procedure is to be used, the above sequence should be adhered to. There will be certain minor differences at mess dinners based on Regimental, SQN and Units customs. It is the Pipe Major?s responsibility to know what they are and any piper he assigns to the Task of “Piper at the mess dinner” is fully aware of his duties. If there is no further requirement for the piper to play after the march ? In, the piper?s toast should not be required, because:
No toast should take precedence over the toast to the Queen; and
It would be inconsiderate to have the piper remain for two- three hours or so after he/she played merely to participate in the piper?s toast.
13. Once the organizers of the dinner have decided upon the total requirements for the piper, they should ensure that all concerned are made aware of their decision, i.e. Mess manager, piper and PMC.