The stupid o’clock bus left without me and my darling this morning as we had decided to drive to Glasgow for the World Pipe Band Championship. We have played at The Worlds a number of times and never yet made it past the qualifying rounds. There were 3 qualifying rounds this year in Grade 4B with 58 bands competing for the coveted top 6 places in each. We were on at 10:10, the 11th band to play in Qualifier 1, hence the stupid o’clock start. The Band Baker had sent a minion round the previous evening to drop off the basket of Goodies and this was loaded into the car along with all the other less important stuff; chairs, tables, pipes, drums. Our drive to Glasgow would have had Miss Daisy snoring but the skies over Glasgow were epic, silvery veils of misty rain backed by towering black storm clouds and white rags flying by on the stiff wind. The sky to the south looked brighter but the Ancient Weather Gods of Auld Scotia had decreed dreich with short patches of dry to tease you. The Worlds of the last few years have been a damp affair, our first foray to Glasgow Green in 2010 was a sun drenched, optimistic affair.
When we arrived at Base Camp Hazel and I looked like a couple of pack mules bringing long expected supplies. The Event Shelter was up and soaked as were the pipers and drummers, due to the inclement weather Brian had decided that once we were tuned there would be no rest for the pipers. He hoped this would keep the chanters in tune and it seemed to work. Neil had forsaken us for coos n sheep so Mrs Broon was roped in to help tune us up, no mean feat in the prevailing atmospheric conditions. I don’t remember hearing the drum corps until they joined us for a run through, you would think that if you arrived at 8 but weren’t on til after 10 you would have oodles of time for a blether or a cup of tea. No chance, before you’re aware you’re streaming over to the final tuning area and getting last minute instructions to calm down and enjoy yourself, my tenor drone took to making a noise like a giant clearing his nose. It’s all very hectic and I fail to notice anything out of the ordinary as we march into the arena. The rain stops, by the right, quick march! We’re on.
Out of the circle I noticed my wife is covered in mud and bleeding at the knees. What I totally failed to notice was Hazel a few ranks back walking and talking and not paying attention and failing to notice a wee kerb round the floral statue of Clyde and falling over like Luis Suarez in the penalty box. A perfect swan dive into a muddy puddle. Thanks to those who raised her from the mire and cleaned her off, she is most grateful.
I decided to watch the bands on after us for a wee flavour of the competition but was driven back to the Event Shelter by the rain. The call was for pipers to strip their instruments and let them dry as best we could, when my bass drone was removed a stream of water ran out. All it needed was some fairy liquid and we’d have been blowing bubbles. Dreich! I spy the Goodies are out and ladies are making tea and the day gets a wee bit brighter. Brian has decided that we will all stay in the Event Shelter and there will be no alcohol before we find out the results. And we do it! Tea is drunk and sandwiches are eaten, The Unelected Social Coven gather in the Event Shelter and exclude us mere mortals as they plan the various events for after Cowal and the end of the season. Most bands offer prizes for improvement and endeavour we reward calamity and stupidity at the end of season barbeque. I think I might be getting a prize this year.
Pipers and drummers had gone to get the results and as they returned in the rain it was apparent by their downcast looks that we had not made the final. The words of conciliation were drowned out by the massed opening of cans and bottles. The competition band were packed away and the party band unfurled. Many friends began dropping in to see us and the party began to get into gear, fortunately there is a massive pipe band competition going on around you and you can go see the cream of world piping with a plastic cup of beer in your hand. Some very insightful body at the RSPBA has licensed the entirety of Glasgow Green. A couple of us, beer in hand, wandered over to watch Glasgow Skye tuning up and spent a instructive 20 minutes watching and listening. Lots of corks would appear to be the answer. I left shortly after this, just as the monster cargo arrived and the guys settled in for the long haul. Our talented friends at Johnstone were on at 6pm which is a long wait but well worth it; Double World Champions, well done chaps. There are loads of pictures on Facebook of bandsmen enjoying themselves in various stages of drenched. When I met up with the bus about 9 they were a sorry and exhausted group, all good practice for Cowal Games at the end of the month