The Pipe Band season finishes for us at the Barbeque and that should be it; pipes cleaned and put away, everything else cleaned and polished and stowed until required. An email arrives from Pipey to that effect also warning us to warm up our practice chanters and pads as we have work to do. Pity the bottom hand this winter because we have to sharpen those embellishments.We now embark on a period of working on the street tunes and welcoming and evaluating new playing members. The atmosphere begins to chill and all sense of urgency drains away, Neil lets a sloppy tacum go by without comment and we all sit about waiting for the new tunes. ZZZzzz!
Then Brian announces we need to bring our instruments to practice. Eh! What? We’ve only just put them away. It’s amazing how leaky a bagpipe becomes when ignored. After much tutting, shaking of heads and application of hemp all the joints on the pipes are airtight and we invite the drummers to join us for a run through. Our friends at Cardwell Garden Centre are having a Family Day and would welcome our participation. They got a beautiful autumn day for it, as I’ve said before it only rains at competitions. We played on the raised patio beside the fruit trees, some in among the fruit trees, and all being eaten alive by the midges. We played 3 times over 2 and a half hours and made pests of ourselves at the coffee bar between times. Days at Cardwell are never onerous and it’s worth it to see the look of fear and fascination on the small childrens faces when the drums crash and the pipes bray. The hardest part of a day at Cardwell is leaving, it took me, Hazel and Joanne 25 minutes to get to the exit, stopping every 2 metres to look at another sparkly thing.
The following weekend we’re out in Kilbarchan for our Autumn Street Concert. We used to play regularly in Steeple Square throughout the summer but as our diary has filled up with competitions, gala days and events it’s becoming harder and harder to find a free weekend to play for the Habbies. So now we do a spring and autumn concert to let the village hear what we are all about. It lets the parents and grandparents of band youth see their little darlings play with the full band, a vindication of all the encouragement and patience they have shown. There was a bit of a hooha before this concert because those who organise the tea and buns forgot to tell us who consume the tea and buns that it was all prepared and there was a bit of a scramble for teabags n stuff. We should have known the Band Baker and her Pixies had everything in hand, all kinds of bakery including a huge cake. We had a good day, the frightful weather cleared for us to play and most of all we had a good turnout of players and spectators, the Medic even took a photo of us.
Practice resumes but Brian is now pushing the 12/8s for the cèilidh, which is just around the corner. In preparation for this the band begins distributing our annual quiz. This is our biggest fundraiser and Derek has surpassed himself this year. The clues are a mixture of the daft and brilliant, not too hard and not too easy. The Prizes this year are fantastic; a made to measure kilt from MacCallum Bagpipes, a £100 and many more. The event itself is a sell out, Clamjamfrie provide the music and we provide the dancers. Gordy had sent his better dressed brother. The band played at the start of the proceedings and it was weird to see folk playing in their dancing clothes apart from those who didn’t listen and turned up in uniform. There was a lot of hooching, chooching and Dashing White Seargenting during the evening which stopped only for eating pies and buying raffle tickets. Then Neil’s Angels took to the stage and piped for dancing; The Gay Gordons and a Strip the Willow, if memory serves, then it was the Mighty Clam until it was time for toddling home. A brilliant night even though I won nothing at the raffle and James the Hat followed me home and drank all my whisky.
So we’re practicing again but the instruments are still not away as we have Remembrance Day and our first sub-zero performance of the year.