Review of “Where the hell is everyone?” article, by Patrick Carlyon

Patrick Carlyon’s “Where the hell is everyone?” article was probably my most favourite from the range of articles we were given to read this trimester. Though the piece is long and takes a while to get through, I found it a thrilling read, capturing the devastating incidents extremely well in terrific detail  and drawing me in with every line. While some may have found the piece too long, I for one found that it was a great length, perfect for when you are looking for something entertaining and informative to read. Carlyon conveyed just the perfect amount of information while still maintaining its entertainment factor. The story telling element was what stuck with me the most, as it is right there and in your face, giving you all of the dreadful details. At the very beginning, the introduction of the elderly gentleman and the young boy is so striking because of what follows, “like the youngest member… he has less than 8 hours to live,” it is the first time in the piece that you get a sense of danger and foreboding of what is to come, up until this point it seems like any other ordinary day. At first, I wasn’t sure what was going on in the piece, what with the discussion of the bowl’s club, and its members, but as soon as you hit that line it sinks in that this piece will be so much more than just a piece about a bowling club. The imagery of Carlyon’s piece paints such a vivid picture, the content is awful, but at the same time the words are hauntingly beautiful which makes for a compelling read. The piece picks up quickly and plays out like a disaster thriller; you can’t stop reading because it is so fascinating and interesting. One of the best elements of the piece I feel, is how Carlyon introduces people in the story as ordinary because that’s exactly what they are, they could be anyone that we have met in our own lives, and this draws you in further because you’re thinking ‘oh, I know someone exactly like that’. And the descriptions of these people, it makes you feel horrible for them as you know what they have to face in a few moments time. “People will draw smoke for their last breaths and perhaps wonder how and why they could be taken so fast,” is for me one of the most haunting lines of the piece. It is so striking because as you read it you realise that you are breathing as you always do because it is just an instinctive human reaction, but the fact that these people were forced by nature to inhale something so horrendous for their last breath is terrible, it makes you stop and evaluate what is going on. In terms of research, there are so many first person accounts in this that Carlyon would have obviously spoken to survivors of this tragedy and taken down what they had said in great detail, because there isn’t really anything else you can do in this particular scenario. What I love about this piece is how seamlessly Carlyon inserts quotes, creating a nice balance in terms of content, making the piece easier to read.

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Feature article on the Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums Pipe Band

Typically, you wouldn’t expect to walk into the South Melbourne Ambulance service headquarters on any given night, and hear the ringing sound of bagpipes and drumming in the air. Yet this is exactly what you will hear every Wednesday night, as this is when the Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums Pipe Band members gather together for their practice sessions. So the question begs to be asked, why exactly is there a pipe band practicing at the Ambulance Victoria headquarters on Wednesday nights?

Graham Mummery, a man who is as passionate about pipe bands as a piper is about piping or a drummer about drumming, is the man behind the curtain, so to speak. Graham is a paramedic who has worked for the Victorian Ambulance Service for almost three decades, and has been an avid drummer since he was 8 years old, after his mother asked him if he wanted to learn how to play them. Since then, the drums and the pipes have been a big factor in his life, influencing many of his decisions, including the decision to start a pipe band.

The idea came to Graham in 2007. He decided that he wanted to start a pipe band and include his friends and family for a bit of fun, so he sent out an email to a few people and began his preparations to create the band.  From there, Graham modelled his idea on that of the Victorian Police Service Pipe Band; wanting to create a band in the Ambulance Service’s name, becoming the first pipe band in the country to be associated with the Ambulance Service. However, it wasn’t until 2009, on September 9 when the band’s name was officially registered, that Graham’s dream came true and the band was officially formed.

‘Camaraderie and the friendships that I’ve made through the band would be one of the big things,’ Graham enthused, describing why he loves pipe bands and his own in particular, he continues ‘… performing, we’re all show offs in our own way, and just getting out there to perform and to entertain people’. Camaraderie is a driving force for Graham, and most of the other members of the band, given that everyone interviewed said it was what they love most about pipe bands. ‘Camaraderie, the fooling around, and actually playing music,’ Jamie, another member of the band who plays the tenor drum, says is his favourite part of playing with the Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums.

The band is also rapidly gaining recognition, beginning with their first international performance at the 2012 Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Delray Beach, Florida. They were the only Australian band picked to perform, and they represented us well. Graham says that his favourite part of the band’s first America trip was getting to, ‘represent Australia and the Ambulance Service,’ and that it was an honour to do so.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade at Delray Beach in Florida is a huge event, where hundreds of thousands of people show up every year to celebrate and watch the big march. Looking forward to 2014 the band is expected to do it all again, and Ken, who is a tenor drummer for the band, can’t wait, ‘It looks like, at this stage, I might be playing the Bass in America’, he shared eagerly. The band was extremely excited to go over there and play in 2012, and this time Graham says that he is looking forward to reconnecting with the friends that he made when he was there last time, taking his family over there to experience it, as they weren’t able to go last time, and is most looking forward to the parade of course, ‘it’s such a fun thing to play in front of 170,000 people,’ he said excitedly.

The Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums also take part in a lot of play outs around Victoria. A play out is a day when the band gathers together with some other bands and go out, march, and play their tunes. ‘They are good for practicing, and working up some courage to play for bigger crowds,’ Georgina, one of the bands youngest members and a tenor drummer says of playing at play outs, ‘it gets everyone in synch so we know what we have to do to be better next time, and we work that out in our Wednesday night practices after we’ve played at one.’ A few of the play outs that the band have attended this year include two Anzac Day services, both at the Nobel Park RSL and the Seymore Anzac Day Parade, which they play most years, the Emerald feit day, which is sort of like a highland gathering where people who love pipe bands and most things highland get together, and Australia day, similar to Anzac day in that it was a parade that they played at.

These guys are not just your average, everyday pipe band. They are dedicated and hard working, and continuing to grow in terms of the numbers of their members, and Graham has no intentions of slowing down. Mr. Mummery says that he wants this band to be taken seriously, even though they are just a new band that is trying to establish themselves within the piping community, he also wants more recognition throughout Australia. ‘When we formed the band, we had a goal of, within ten years, playing at Edinburgh,’ Ken says, it is their biggest dream and they are halfway there in terms of time. Although the road to Edinburgh can be long and treacherous, Graham and the rest of the band are definitely determined to see themselves there.

The members of the pipe band gather together every Wednesday night for practice sessions, and continue to play at play outs and other events in preparation of their upcoming performance at the 2014 Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Delray Beach, Florida.

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Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums St. Patrick’s Day March 2012 – Delray Beach, Florida

From the 30 second mark, you can see the band marching at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade at Delray Beach in Florida.

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May 20, 2013 · 5:26 pm

Various photos of the Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums pipe band.

1) Emerald

2) Beechworth Celtic Festival

3) Remembrance Day Play Out

4) Paramedics in the American Ambulance

5) Maryborough Tuning Up

6) Graham Mummery (band leader) and Brian Fry

7) Daylesford

8) New Year’s Eve Play Out

Photograph source: Graham Mummery, band leader.

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April 26, 2013 · 12:45 pm

This is a snippet of my preliminary interview with band leader Graham Mummery. It’s just 2 starter questions about the origins of the pipe band. Enjoy!

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April 26, 2013 · 12:40 pm

The Pitch

My feature story will be written on the ‘Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums’ pipe band. This is a relatively new pipe band, having started up in 2009, and has been growing with new members ever since then. The AVPD will make a good subject for the story because not only is this the first pipe band attached to the Ambulance service in Victoria, but it is also the very first pipe band attached to the Ambulance service in Australia. There are many other pipe bands in Victoria that are attached to other task forces such as the Fire service, but this one is unique and one of a kind.

In March of 2012 the Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums pipe band was asked to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Delray Beach, Miami. The AVPD band was the only Australian band in participation, and they represented us proudly. This coming March of 2014 they will be doing it all again. This will be the angle for my piece. I plan on writing about their last trip and how they were feeling in preparation for it and the anticipation of the performance, how they feel looking back on it now, and their hopes for the 2014 march.

My story will also detail how the band came to be and why they have decided to associate themselves with the Victorian Ambulance service, as this is a band that allows members to join from anywhere in Victoria regardless of their being a paramedic or not.  The band is quite traditional, learning the bagpipes and different kinds of drums, as well as drills and marches, which make for an easy talking point and an interesting conversation, they also have people as young as 13 in the band who display the same passion as the older members. It’s good to see so many different people who are all passionate about the same thing.

The band regularly attends ‘play outs’, at which they perform and march along with other bands. Most recently they performed at the ANZAC Day service in Seymour on Thursday 25th April, 2013, so I will be able to discuss with the members what they like about play outs, what their favourite play out that they’ve done is, and questions along those lines, just to get some background on their situation and how the band works.

In order for me to complete this story, I will have to research other pipe bands within Australia and see how they play, and look at their techniques and then compare them to the Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums to see how different and unique they are, and see what makes them different from the rest.

Relevant electronic sources:

1); this will be the most important and most relevant source for the band. Their Facebook page is used is in the same way a blog would be used, in that they constantly post updates about where they are and what they are up to, including a short depiction of the events that they attend and even recaps of their Wednesday night training sessions. The page is run by the head of the Ambulance Victoria Pipes and Drums pipe band, Graham Mummery, which ensures that all of the content on the page is reliable and relatable to the band.

2); this is a video from the official Ambulance Victoria YouTube profile. It is one of a handful of videos that have been posted by them, and appears to be the only video that features the band. This is a relevant research tool as it gives an insight into the band as they were when they were just starting out and can provide me with quotes for the article, as well as help me to develop questions that can be asked in the final interviews with the band members.

3); this is the official website for pipe bands in Australia; every pipe band that is registered in Australia appears here with the official name, relevant contact information and, where applicable, a link to the bands personal website. This website also features important information within the piping community and allows access to information regarding their magazine, and competitions, etc. This will mainly be a reference tool, rather than research, but it is still instrumental in the preparation of this article.

4); this is the official website for the Victorian Ambulance service. This website will be helpful in gathering specific statistics and facts regarding the Victorian Ambulance service. It would provide me with the foundations on which I can base my questions to ask of Graham and other pipe band members. There are also links to the official Twitter of the Victorian Ambulance service which could also provide another source for questions related to the day to day lives of the paramedics within the band.

5); this is a magazine that was published in October of 2010, featuring a one page article on the band. This will be beneficial in a similar way to the YouTube video, in that it is an older article and can provide me with a conversation starter, for example, it would mean bringing up something that was said in the article and seeing if an opinion has changed, and if so, how. Alternatively it could provide me with a basis on which my article can begin and I can develop it from there. 

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