It’s a late start for us, your normal RSPBA major tournament has all the Grade 4b guys split into 2 or 3 qualifying groups but with only 23 bands registered to compete there is no qualifier just a huge final. Levengrove Park is a beautiful place for a pipe band competition, with Dumbarton Castle towering over us and the Clyde sweeping by. We were on last and met in the car park at 2pm. This should indicate that there was no time for any band based japes and this will be a very short report.
Arriving in the car park, after fighting through the traffic, we ended up scattered the length of it and everyone wanted their car to be the centre of activity, this of course led to extended hanging about in wee knots of bandsmen until we coalesced around Basso’s car and the Tea table.
Over the course of this year we have as a band acquired some valuable additions; Band Dog is always welcome but the arrival of the Band Baker is a joy, well you can’t eat a dog, legally. Before a single note had been honked the table was up and the tea/coffee and cakes were on display. Good news for those who come to help and watch. Pipers and Drummers were whisked away by the Holy Trinity, Brian, Neil and Stewart and the substance of the day began. Standing in a circle playing street stuff to warm up seems a perfectly safe and innocuous thing to do but what’s this? A car approaches from the south, Brian gives a shout we all start to move and let it pass. One step back, turn about, take a step, kick the pipe bags Dave the Assassin has placed behind me and face plant onto a wee green car ending up measuring my length on the grass. This cheered Lorna up no end. Thankfully the drummers never noticed as I’m still getting grief over the forgotten pipes fiasco. Next time out I’m wearing a red nose and big floppy shoes. Honk! Honk!
The guys did their usual Dark Arts stuff to the pipes and we were made to sound respectable again. No idea how they do it. Take a bagpipe, tune it, put it down for 5 minutes, pick it up and play. Out of tune. One of the great mysteries of the universe, probably. We were pronounced tuned and sent over to the Tea table before the drummers ate everything. Birler Bill declared the Broon Cake, “Magic!” What’s this? Sandwiches (Sangwitches if you’re from Greenock) have been provided and I managed to eat one without getting egg stuck to my face of mayonnaise dribbled down my tie, result! Some of the guys headed off about now to catch other bands in the Circle, well done to Johnstone. I was kind of hoping Inverary and District would win the Scottish title but congratulations to Field Marshall Montgomery, we thought you might have hung about to watch us.
The rain now starts to make it’s presence felt, just light showers for now but the forecast is grim and as our time in the Circle gets closer it gets progressively more and more dreich. Capes are back in vogue and the drums sport rakish caps. Once again we are under the trees (there seems to be an arboreal theme running through our competitions) playing and tuning, ironing out wee details and keeping taught nerves under control before the walk to the final tuning area. There are a lot of nice walks to final tuning areas; Bathgate was under an avenue of trees beside a river and here we’re under the shadow of Dumbarton Rock with the majestic Clyde pouring past. The final tuning area looked like the cows had just left, bad show West Dunbartonshire Cooncil. So there we are ankle deep in grass clippings, plowtering up and down perfecting our sound and suddenly, we’re on. Thanks to Coinneach, Davie the Assassin, Adam’s mum and Nan the Fan for carrying our capes.
Form up, by the right, quick march! The rain which had slackened off in the final prep area redoubled its efforts and we got soaked as we marched in playing.
The march past had been cancelled due to the inclemency of the weather, again, and we dispatched Brian and Big Stewart to get the sheets and find out the placings. By this time I was back in my car sitting in the traffic jam that was Dunbarton. Once again the drum corps did us proud but overall, bleh! More work required before Bridge of Allan on the 3rd