Lilias day is a strange one. It is not a pipe band competition or Highland Gathering but it is our biggest day of the year. The day you want all your players out, the day most of the kids have been working toward and the big one to let proud parents, grandparents and assorted family see their wee piper/drummer on the street in kilt and Glengarry bonnet.
Lilias Day is the Kilbarchan village fete/gala day, supposedly dating from antiquity but revived in the early 1930’s under the auspices of the Kilbarchan General Society as a fundraiser. The current incarnation was established in 1968 by the school Parents Association and goes from strength to strength. The current Lilias Committee did a fine job of organisation this year.
The day begins early with people in cars driving in the public park and the raising of gazebos, marquees and Event Shelters. Tables are set up and plants, books and teddies amassed for the annual tombola frenzy. It seems like ages until the band meet at 11:30 but all too soon the rush is on to get home and get dressed.
This year Kilbarchan’s Premier Street Band met in the Kilbarchan Bowling Club for pre-parade tuning and fortification. Getting this many pipers/drummers to do anything quickly is impossible and the pre parade photo of the whole band was abandoned due to the parade about to start without us. Our Monty lined up and went to inflate his pipes but alas his blowstick was nowhere to be seen and he was sent searching. A possible hemp shortage in Elderslie methinks. The weather forecast was grim and the skies looked threatening, so many bandsmen decided to wear capes. This inclination to waterproofing only got as far back as the last rank of pipers. Wendy was heard to chant, “You look stupid in your cape, y-o-u look s-t-u-p-i-d in your cape!” And we felt it because the sun came out just as we were starting. Big Wullie the Drum Major gave the command and we were off. Up ahead the town cryer was tolling his bell and roaring, the posh car was dishing sweeties to the crowd and Wullie strode on majestically. I love Lilias day me. Behind us the historical pageant trooped; Druids, Monks, Ancient Britons, Noble families, Victorian wedding guests, The School Queen and Miss Lilias in their carriages, pipe and bugle bands and bringing up the rear the Floats. It’s an impressive parade. It’s also a noisy parade; Pipes and Drums, bugles, lorry horns, fire engine claxons and the crowd cheering them on.
The weather was holding good, the pipers looked like tubes in their capes and just as we passed the Trust and settled into a bit of lengthy playing there was a spot of rain, then another and suddenly the Spirit of Gourock opened the clouds and it began to rain heavily and persistently. “Ochone ochone!” wailed the drum corps as they got soaked to the skin. No schadenfreude in this band, oh how we pitied or poor soaking drummers. Not really, we had a right good laugh. Wendy ate her humble pie about then. The next big event of the the day is when Habbie Simpson’s statue magically comes to life, leaves the Steeple and joins the pageant. We were revived by the good staff of Bobbins with glasses of water and begin the march to the Park. I was astonished at the number of people lining the streets given the downpour. The march down into the Public Park is always fraught, there are loads of people milling about with prams, big balloons, toddlers, wheelchairs, big dogs etc. None of them appear able to hear or see a pipe band approaching, it’s a worry. This year we had the added horror of a fire engine on the path and us forced to march and play on the rain soaked, foot churned, clay slick grass. No disasters to report although Hazel says she nearly “went” a few times.
Once safely in the park Hazel vanished, as Miss Lilias read the proclamation and crowned the School Queen (Miss Lilias was Emma Vaughan this year, a particularly beautiful and charming Miss Lilias), so she could get photaes of the Lilias group. The deluge continued. With the Queen crowned and the day officially open we led the parade from the arena and headed up to the Stall for some well earned dryness. The rain must have slackened for a wee minute or Coinneach Combe is a magician, his band photo managed to make the weather look clement. The rest of the afternoon is spent trying to coax pennies from the hands of damp strangers. Many of the band won’t recognise this part as they are in the pub by now. God bless the Lilias committee for bring the curtain down early, it was a good Lilias day but a trifle too damp and the park had become virtually impassable with rivers running where paths once lay. Brian and Hazel took a good chunk of of park home with them thanks to a random woman spraying them with her car. Once the dripping Event Shelters were away the party can begin and I hear that there were a few and that they went on into the wee small hours.
Kilbarchan Pipe band 2014