The British 2016

The Idiot Box was doing a roaring trade, we turned up 20 seconds late, but as wise old mercenary Pipey says, “20 seconds is the same as 20 minutes, late’s late! Four in your car is it? £20 please.”Muttering, “20 seconds, ‘sakes, 20 seconds,” under my breath I hoisted the urns and was told to put them back in the car. Muttering, “Sakes, make up yir mind, ye waant the urns, ye don’t waant the urns, sakes,” I removed my cape, hoisted my pipes and bag of scran and headed for St James Park, the Racecourse as it’s colloquially known.

The park, usually covered in football pitches and dog walkers, had been transformed into a glittering pipe band competition venue; four arenas surrounded by final tuning areas and all the support and comestibles. Away from the arenas the going was very heavy in places, we found a relatively dry spot and set up camp. Lewis had joined us this week having survived a mauling by the Band Dog and being forsaken by his Uncle Mikey at Gourock, should the mascot be fined for not attending a competition? Answers on Facebook please.

With the tents up it was instruments out and leave it to the Support to peg the Event Shelters down and attach guy ropes while we marched about in the increasingly bright and blustery day. Imagine our surprise on turning about to start another ‘attack’ and noticing one of our Event Shelters blowing away.  Shoddy peg work by the Support I’m assured, I was a bit concerned as my jacket was attached to the new KPB kite. We really must buy Clock a mallet. Leave it to the Dickies to save the day because we have been summoned to the line and it’s time for the main event.

In my memory it always goes quiet when we enter the arena, I’m aware there is a cacophony going on around us but in my head it’s quiet, the wind tugging at your kilt, Pipey exchanging pleasantries with the judges; then BAND READY, QUICK MARCH and we’re making music.

Photographers stalk us as we leave the arena and they bully us and point at us and get us lined up in some sort of order with everyone where they can be seen, in short a properly set up photo. The first one since the best forgotten Remembrance Day one for the pub where I had a Hitler moustache, curse you Movember. The skies to the north are adding all sorts of drama to people’s pictures, big apocalyptic clouds looming over us.

Back at the remaining Event Shelter the urns are now in demand so off I trot in my sunscreen and daft hat to fetch them, a bit of hat envy with the security staff ensues, I jook over the road, get the urns and return. Doddle!
“Did you bring the tea and coffee?” so off I trot in my sunscreen and daft hat to fetch them, a bit of hat envy with the security staff ensues, I jook over the road, get the teabags and return, muttering. Darkly.

Who broke the urn? Hazel’s ragin’.

The word from the RSPBA isn’t good, we failed to qualify. Suddenly the previously ‘dry’ Event Shelter sprouts bottles and cans in profusion and the Party Band gets its hat on. We hung about watching various competitions, met StuPo and Big Stewart before they went on and marvelled at the size of the higher grade bands. City of Inverness looked glorious, not one kilt matched, I’m sure it was a statement, they won anyway as I predicted. Nan the Fan was introduced to Cheeky Vimto just before we got invaded. One minute you’re sitting sucking on a bottle of Prosecco and the next Field Marshall Montgomery surround you and begin tuning. What a treat. I was a bit tired about now and unsteady on my feet and the first rain of the day was falling so the decision to abandon the Racecourse and head for the Glennie to watch the fitba was taken. I remember real ale and possibly pizza, rumours of a bottle of wine are only that as I have no recollection of it. Apologies to anyone I tried to talk to on the road home.

Next up is bagpacking at Morrisons, Johnstone and then our annual trip to Cardwell.

Cannae wait..

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