It’s a nice drive to Dumbarton at 8am on a Saturday, hazy golden light and mist on the river. We were on time. Everything had gone like clockwork, early to bed, good nights sleep and up fresh and early. The evening before had been a nightmare of bread rolls and fillings, seeing how many you could squeeze in a tupperware and seeing how many tupperwares you could squeeze in the fridge. The band picnic was under construction and Subway had nothing on us.
I always make a cod of getting to Levengrove Park and this year was no exception, “is that the turning? aye, naw, AYE!” To everyone wondering why there was a car in three lanes opposite Dalreoch Station, it’s your basic stupidity. Levengrove Park is a glorious setting for a championship; where the Leven joins the Clyde with Dumbarton rock keeping watch. The look on Pipey’s face when nobody turned up late was equally glorious to see. He stood there with his Idiot Box and no idiots to fine so he imposed a £1 Well Done levy on us. A new band phenomenon is creating havoc, a child’s stuffed reindeer in our tartan has become a photo superstar, as yet nameless, he is a social media sensation. A naming committee is mooted. The perversity of naming something in a MacLeod of Harris tartan Lewis is not lost on the Gaels among us. During the hilarity an Event Shelter is erected by novices; it has four arches, there’s no place for an “S” piece. The Tenor Ladies have set up their chairs in a sand pit and are sunbathing. The weather is glorious, any clouds are there to make the photos look lovely.
The instruments are out and tuning begins, the drummers wander off but I can still hear Big Stewart shouting at them. As I am the Alpha Drone Monkey I get someone to hold my tuner. I was dropped this week so no crashing bottles were required. James the Hat, resplendent in a dodgy fishing hat, and I toddled round the pipers until we could twiddle no more. About now the picnic was opened; we have been using a low, back breaking camping table for a few years now and Emma Tenor looked at it and extended the legs into a tall, spine safe camping table…mutter, mutter, mutter! The picnic was an epicure’s delight; two kinds of cold meat, and cheese, hot and cold water, coffee, tea and enough donuts to feed a police force.
Replete, the band waddled into formation for final practices, everyone assumed the “face”. The tenors crossed their beaters in preparation and I asked Wendy where her drum was..? Twenty feet away, oh dear, Wendy the air drummer coloured up and scarpered after her drum. That is how good the picnic was, it created phantom drum syndrome. In final tuning Brian and Neil tried to calm the twitching racehorse that is KPB pipe corps, final tuning is always full of early E’s, slightly early E’s and weird noises. Big Davey said, “it’s always like this and they get it right in the arena.” Later we spectators asked him exactly what was the weird noise as they marched in, possible someone stepped on a vole.
Back at the Event Shelter the table is groaning under the weight of bread and pastries, tea and coffee are doing the rounds and the guys are wandering off to see other bands and buy sweeties. Scoff appeared with half a coo on two rolls as we watched the opposition and Neil asked, “did we sound like that?”
“No,we sounded good!” I took to wandering about the park snapping pictures and blethering to strangers before heading back to hear the results. Boo! Early baths all round. That knocked the wind out of our sails and people began to head home to avoid helping put everything away. Somehow I ended up with the spare Event Shelter walls again. A contingent of the band and Lewis played an impromptu concert in Greenock and those who should know better ended up in Word Up, again!
We have a weekend off before joining the good people of Arran at Brodick Highland Games. Charge your glasses gentlemen please and nae hingin o’er the railings.