Welcome to the 2015 outdoor pipe band competition season. We have big plans for this year, we spoiled the Pipey last year, he wanted to qualify for one major tournament and we gave him two. But it all starts here in Gourock. We have never been in the prizes at Gourock due to having to play in monsoon rain and hurricane winds, they cancelled the contest one year just after we’d finished blowing bubbles, but that’s just excuses.
We had a full car for the journey doon the waater and the conversation ranged over topics many and varied but always returned to the weather and if the rain would ever let up. We parked down by the bowling club and began building the Event Shelter while tenor drummers jeered at us from the warmth of the car, there was a lot of debate about where to fit the walls; prevailing winds etc. but as there wasn’t a breath of wind I didn’t think it mattered.
Brian had somehow managed to convince Craig and Gordon (top bandsmen) to assist in the tuning of the pipers but as we began to warm up our instruments you could see the look of horror on their faces at the task they had taken on. We sounded awful. While we honked and tooted we watched Kilsyth’s gazebo jump into the air, back flip and end up on the ground in a heap, luckily our Event Shelter is made of sterner stuff. Brian and Neil let the guys get on with it and before you knew it we were sounding like a pipe band and heading for the arena. A rousing Scotland the Brave brought us into the arena, a few practice starts settled the nerves and we marched toward the circle. Spirits were high, we sounded superb in practice and The Birler was only out of step for a wee minute or two. We need to do something about the marching, I’m as guilty as anyone but when we approach the arena we should have a noble martial bearing, full of the pride of an ancient warrior race, not a ramble trauchlin’ through the glaur.
We were playing sans capes and jaiskets and it was a wee bit parky but the rain had let up earlier and it was a fine day for piping. A quick amble to the line and we were raring to go, BAND by the right, one, two. Total concentration for 3 minutes.
This might be the first year I haven’t had to apologies to the band for my schoolboy errors.
Gordon and Craig began getting us ready for the March, Strathspey and Reel as soon as we left the arena, I
can’t don’t play the MSR in competition due to an old industrial injury (hemhem) so got to listen to them from outside the circle and chat to all and sundry. Big Mick suddenly appeared by my side, the other tenors say the sound of his bottle crashing could be heard in Kilbarchan. The wind that had buffeted us during the MAP set was really making its presence felt, blowing the players about but the chanters still sounded fantastic, the drone sound was being blown every which way producing some weird harmonics. I listened to The Pipes and Drums of Basel, on after us, and their early E was even better than ours.
Back at the Event Shelter it was time for a cuppa and a sandwich before Gordon and Craig made the chanters sound even better. Our Event Shelter was doing a fine impression of a galleon under full sail by this time and it was thought expedient to remove the walls before it ended up in the Clyde. Pipers and drummers honed their sound and just as everyone began to head back to the arena a big gust of fine Scottish wind spatchcocked our Event Shelter and left it on the grass like a squashed spider. So I missed the Grade 3 performance due to picking up broken poles and chasing stuff being blown away but the beaming smiles on the Tenor Ladies faces said they had had a blast. Even though it wasn’t yet 3 o’clock the day had a finished feel to it, with the gazebo gone there was nowhere to congregate and have a beer and people began to drift away. The sky looked sullen and promised lots of rain so me, Jo and the Tenor Section packed our wagon and headed home early. @KilbarchanPB reported that the march past had been cancelled due to the weather shortly after.
Our next engagement is at Clydeport on the 13th at 5 o’clock for the cruise ship Le Boreal.