Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bagpipers, robber ghosts and the police

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Today, in an effort to prove I am a crusading journalist with his thumb on the pulse of the city -- which would probably cause the city to experience sudden heart failure, because I have a large thumb -- I am going to share a dramatic and true police drama I witnessed.

It began last week shortly after my wife dropped me off at the home of a friend, whose name I cannot currently reveal -- other than to say that if you spelled it backwards it would be B-O-B -- due to the fact he has started to grumble about being mentioned so frequently in a certain newspaper column.

But that is beside today's journalistic point, which is that my wife dropped me off at my friend's house because we were going to attend an extremely manly event just down the street, namely the annual Scotch & Cigar Appreciation Evening at the home of our friend, Dave.

For the uninitiated, a Scotch & Cigar Appreciation evening is an evening where men gather and stand around in manly clots doing their best to appreciate (a) scotch; and (b) cigars. We show our appreciation for these things via comments such as: "Well (cough) this (cough) is certainly (cough) an excellent cigar and or scotch (cough) I am consuming!"

The coughing is meant to indicate most guys only appreciate scotch and cigars infrequently because a certain group of uncaring individuals -- for the purposes of this column, we'll refer to them as "my wife" -- think they are, and we will quote "them" directly, "stinky."

Getting back to the police drama, there I was in my unnamed friend's kitchen when my phone rang. It was my wife, who urged us to race outside because, as she drove away, she'd seen a police car screech to a halt outside the house.

Being crusading journalists, we meandered onto my buddy's porch and, sure enough, there was a police cruiser literally pulled up halfway onto the grass in front of a house across the street. Moments later, a second police cruiser arrived, followed in short order by a third cruiser. The officers got out and surrounded the home.

I looked at my friend and, using the observational powers that come with being a journalist, made the following observation: "Hey (my friend's name here) something must be happening!"

Next, the owner of the house sidled over (he was a very talented sidler) and explained when he and his family had arrived home they'd heard mysterious noises in the basement and, fearing an intruder, had called police.

The drama was compelling and, as I stood there, transfixed, I will never forget what my pal said to me. He said: "Get out of the way!" He said that because as I gaped with slack-jawed curiosity, he was pushing a broom and sweeping elm seeds off his porch.

While the drama played out, the homeowner's young children were having the time of their lives, poking their excited heads out the sunroof of an SUV, where they had been deposited for safekeeping. For those of you who are not currently children, having the police scour your house for mysterious bad guys is off-the-charts exciting.

In the end, there were no evildoers in the basement and the officers quietly left the house, spotted the squirming children ogling them, and went over to reassure them.

"Did you guys see some ghosts?" one officer asked.

The kids were too excited to answer.

"Well, you have nothing to worry about," the officer declared, trying to hide a smile, "My partner here is a Ghostbuster and he scared them off."

This elicited squeals of delight, which is when the police drove away and B-O-B and I bravely wandered down the street to appreciate scotch and cigars and share the exciting real-life crime drama we had just witnessed.

As we blew cigar smoke into one another's faces and made sophisticated comments about various scotches -- "Hmm, this one is very scotch-y" -- suddenly and without warning, the police arrived again.

And when I say police, I am referring to three kilt-clad members of the famed Winnipeg Police Pipe Band in the form of two pipers and a drummer, who played several traditional tunes that warmed our hearts and shattered our eardrums.

It was a wonderful, manly, heart-pounding evening and -- this is probably just the journalist in me talking -- had there been any ghosts remaining in the area, I suspect the bagpipes would have scared them away.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 3, 2013 A2

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