A line of pipers leaning on a wall gawping

?ock Highland Games

Nobody did anything daft or embarrassed themselves, it could be a short blog. Possibly.

Gourock Highland Games begins the outdoor season for us and as we aren’t playing until lunch time it’s a highly civilised 11am start.
Wendy Tenor has agreed to transport me, Wifey Tenor and the Medic to Greenock. Even though we left early we only just made the curfew for the Idiot Box after a pleasant wee drive along the coast and round the houses with some inspired parking, I for one don’t plan on contributing this year, last year cost a fortune in fines. You will have noticed I said Greenock, the last umpteen years have seen us plowtering about in the muddy dub that is Gourock Park, ruining our brogues and getting trench foot, but the Greenock  Cooncil volunteered to host the Games at the dry underfoot Battery Park and for free. Top bananas.

Gourock is famous for one thing; it is the elephant in the room, nobody mentions it in case they jinx us and the hazey cold morning degenerates into a proper Glasgow Fair Friday downpour. We all mill around our bags like burds at the ‘dancing’ waiting for Pipey to give the word, talk is muted, there is a pensive atmosphere, James the Hat approaches noshing a roll and slurping a brew. The Event Shelter has not been brought so we are exposed to whatever the weather brings because Pipey has supreme faith in the weather App on his phone. At 11:30 on the dot the drums are unleashed and the pipes assembled, it’s show time. Pipey quickly gets us tuned up and Neil begins intimidating the pipers, poor blowing and shoddy fingerwork are exposed and remedies advanced, BLOW! The usual pre-match nerves prompt the usual early ‘E’s and errant honks and before you know it we are being called to final tuning.

Some bands arrive at final tuning in a phalanx playing a 6/8 march; we have people arriving at final tuning, Purdy in the loo and others still leaving the pitch and every place in between in a long meandering ribbon of tartan, like reindeer crossing the tundra on the Discovery Channel. I must point out that I am playing today and that I’m fairly relaxed for this early in the season. My pipes are normally horrific to play until July but i’m getting the hang of this piping malarkey. Andy steps out due to illness and Graeme retires as we form up to march on, defeated by his drone reeds. The weather was perfect and we didn’t disgrace ourselves, on the march out Mrs Broon even complimented my playing, result. I hope Clock got a picture of my triumph.

The sun came out, I reached for the lotion, factor 15, kack! For this to be effective I’d have had to have someone walk beside me spraying my head and face. I reached for the hat but it’s at home. Sunburn! I took my big red coupon down to the arena to listen to the bands and to take pictures, I’d just missed Johnstone who are always good to watch. I was introduced to my fellow blogger Impishme, she keeps us honest on Facebook.  After a light lunch I went in search of shadows to lurk in to mitigate the sunburn.

I wasn’t entirely happy with the sound from my area of the circle during final tuning for Grade 3 but was assured it ‘wasnae me’, there were however some strange harmonics during this performance reported by Rab the drum tutor. Well done to Chris and Andrew on playing their first competition, it’s a bowel loosening experience. We are now free til half five for the consumption of alcohol and merriment, prudence suggests listening to the Grade 2 bands. There is a gulf of difference in tone between the upper and lower grades and the size of the bands is epic. It looks as if the whole town turns up when Johnstone form into ranks. During the hiatus before the march past Mikey won his bae a cuddly polar bear which Basso stuck to his drum like a sacrifice on the wheels of the Juggernaut.

The march past went off without a hitch other than some ropey steering, salutes were exchanged and thanks proffered. I was now using lager to help with my sunburn. We didn’t get a placing but fair play to those who did; they played better than us. Also, happy birthday to Pipey, sorry there was no birthday silverware. We are out next at the British Championships which have move to Paisley, so I’ll see you all at the Racecourse in a fortnight.

Cannae wait..

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