Saturday was Paisley Pipe Band Championships, a recent addition to the competition season and slowly building a reputation as a fun day out. Last year was miserable, the rain never let up for a minute and we had a piping malfunction in Grade 3. The forecast this year wasn’t very good and Friday saw downpours of biblical proportions, so imagine everyone’s surprise when Saturday dawned windy and bright.
We were to meet at 11:15am so my 11:30am arrival prompted more fines, if we’d left Kilbarchan when I wanted to we’d have had time for coffee and a bacon roll, just saying! We began tuning up almost immediately so as not to waste precious time. There has been a running theme throughout this season and it’s my failure to play, I won’t bore you with excuses but I failed the first rule of Pipe Club; keep the bagpipe inflated. So I’m Drone Monkey again but this week I have an apprentice. Rich has been accompanying us on our travels for a few years now and Pipey decided we had better find a use for him, other than fathering drummers and supplying exotic minty booze. Pipey asked the drummers to stop while he tuned the chanters but about 120bpm is as close to stopped as Stupo does.
While we danced around the circle twisting and tweaking, Big Stewart was working the drum corps hard, nothing but Best Corp of Drums will satisfy the big man and his drummers know it. We were pronounced “Fit to be Seen” and descended to the High Street and final tuning. What a glorious day for a march through the town, proper July weather, although I hear the gowf at St Andrews got clobbered and anywhere north of the Clyde was drookit.
The venue for the competition is County Square and a good crowd of Paisley Buddies had come out to be entertained. No traipsing through the long soupy grass and mud to reach the circle in Paisley, it’s all very civilised although I’m still working out why they need speed bumps in a pedestrian precinct. The guys left Rich and me outside the arena like a pair of expectant fathers and marched on and gave it the beans. As they marched out a huge rainstorm swept Paisley just to remind us we were in Scotland, I fled to my car for a waterproof jacket and found a Traffic Attendant eyeing up my windscreen, a quick, “Eh! Ye aw’right mate?” and a pleasant ten minute blether with the guy saved me a ticket but I hastily move the car elsewhere. During this hiatus between Grade 4 and 3 guys headed off for tea and buns but the alcohol ban remained in place and many looked wistfully at the Last Post. Rich lost his tuner about now and got into a right flap.
As this is a minor competition bands can play in a higher grade if they so desire, we are listed for Grade 3 and Grade 3 MSR (march, strathspey and reel) and there is not a lot of time between for pleasantries. Chanters were taped, drone reeds dried and drums adjusted and they were off down the street again with me dashing about the files making final adjustments. They sounded even better second time out but as for the MSR, a wasp buzzed Pipeys fingers and Peppa says she had a Big Bee beside her. The late afternoon saw us diving in and out of the Last Post to hear other bands; eating, drinking and meeting old friends and later after some refreshment Big Stewart did his annual “getting a note out of the pipes” a month early as it usually happens at Arran.
The march past saw us form two massed band squadrons and Johnstone. The Lady Provost gave a charming speech, a bit longer than Subo’s, “Thanks for having me,” but quite acceptable. Then the prizes, Stupo collected the Best Corps of Drums quaich to Big Stewart’s delight and the look of utter panic when Yvonne went up to collect third place in Grade 3 was priceless and the picture of Adam glaring at Fee when she collected our fourth in the MSR could have started a feud.
Many of our younger and more energetic members stayed on in Paisley for a few drinks too many but I being far too genteel for that went to a whisky tasting.
Next Saturday is the Scottish Championship in Dumbarton, traditionally a day for rain capes.