So the early rise is a given, be there at 7:50am the bus leaves at 8. And it did! Everyone was there on time, the bus was smelling sweet and the weather was fine, what could go wrong?
Well, everything could as we had no ranking pipers there to set us up. Big Stewart had announced you wouldn’t find him tuning the drums and Wee Mel decided that the drones would probably do if I tweaked them a bit.
The early rise got us to the harbour and into a growing queue. We’d been warned it was going to be busy so be early and it was really busy. However once you’re on the ferry you can sit and snigger at the poor sods standing behind the barrier fretting. I decided that coffee was my priority at this point my decision was however overruled by the Leading Drummer and I ended up in the saloon bar for a Loosener. Now I know you think you know where this is going but we had a job to do so one pint was enough, someone was even seen drinking water. For shame. We found two drummers in there who might have been there since last year. Fee was blaming her shaky hands on her new medication and not another late night at Word Up.
We tuned up at our usual place and noted the lack of wasps this year, they probably froze to death or were too waterlogged to fly. I tuned the drones and we listened to the chanters but no one was brave enough to touch Pipey’s reeds. We sounded okay and as such we followed Arran Pipe Band up the street. There is a reason pipe bands have a pipe major, nothing to do with inventing fines, he runs the show; he shouts, we jump, that kind of thing. Melissa was the Pipe Chairman and everyone was shouting advice and she was too polite to tell us to ram it. The Arran Games committee were their usual helpful selves and the buffet in the church hall was of Return of the Prodigal Son proportions, fatted calves had been prepared. I really need to start taking my specs with me as the cheese and ham sandwich (sangwitch) turned out to be ham and mustard. Oaft! Some brave souls escaped and headed over to the Golf Club to help boost the local economy others lingered over their soup.
We have a few duties at Brodick Highland Games; the massed bands are always a hoot and the mini concert by the pavilion is fun, even without hats. The park was a mass of people and athletes when we marched in, there was minimal band organisation and we formed up in an ad-hoc parade. Kirkintilloch had failed to appear and Kintyre Schools were there in their place. We marched off to Scotland the Brave and The Rowan Tree, did some sideways marching at the corners and played the tunes again. The crowd loved it, the big guys throwing the big weights loved it, the skinny guys running loved it,there was an awful lot of love in the arena. But no Hog Roast.
Between engagements we sampled the local produce, people bought meals and donated the uneaten chips to those less inclined to buy solids, who descended like a flock of Whitby gulls. Big Stewart gave us a demonstration of his golfing prowess by driving straight into the burn and Big Davey appeared. One minute we were a Daveless band, next he was there. As the day had gone on our lack of chanter expertise was beginning to show and as we prepared to march back to the harbour mine got so out of tune I gave up playing in the big circle. Caledonian MacBrayne had a guy out spreading scare stories and pooping the party. So we packed up and got in the queue. The party on the boat more than made up for it and as we waved cheerio to Cleopatra on her camel and Arran Pipe Band played on the pierhead we bade a fond farewell to another brilliant Brodick Highland Games.
The Worlds is on Saturday