A pipe band in the foreground with the ship Disney Magic behind them

Of Mice and Pensioners

A 4:45am Saturday wake up is fairly unheard of, I have been known to get home after drinking James the Hat’s whisky about then. This however was a call for help from Clydeport, they had a ship arriving at 6am and no band to welcome them. Not just any ship; Disney Magic was on route.

If Lilias Day had been zephirs and balmy this was the polar opposite and since Mags had forgotten her jacket we were playing sans jaiskets and chittering. Big Gordy might have to get an Idiot Box to himself the number of uniform infractions he committed, it’s astonishing he arrived wearing a kilt. The rain held off to a smirr but the wind off of the Clyde had teeth, it was fun to watch Big Davey, just back from the Gulf of Arabia, suffering the chilblains of a Scottish summer and the mental anguish of trying to play a new hide bag for the first time. We had been barred from marching while the boat docked so we formed a strange ovoid arch with the pipers in a huge arc and the drummers in a straight line. We had been playing for about half an hour to largely empty decks when the Pipe Sergeant turned up and sidled into the ovoid closely followed by Andy who was just seeing out the end of Friday night.

The ship blew her whistle; When You Wish Upon a Star echoed around the Clyde valley, “That’s what we’ve been waiting for,” opined a drummer.

I was playing at a wedding later in the day and it was after 6 before I got the kilt off and the gladrags on for Isy’s retirement party. The hall was filling up nicely with the great and the good of Kilbarchan society, colleagues, friends and quite a number of folk carrying bagpipes and drums. Being a big sporting philistine I planted my big backside in front of the telly, obscuring the view of the England v Russia soccer match. The guys watching the game were at the other end of the hall; a swap was arranged to prevent bloodshed.

While the party raged next door KPB sat drinking, watching the fitba and heaping insults  upon the each others shoulders and then the buffet arrived and arrived some more and then a wee bit more arrived and then some fruit. Evan, who had been cheating at Top Trumps until now, spotted the only tray not covered and made off with handfuls of millionaires shortcake. His father has taught him well. And then the bar shut. Consternation. During this drinking hiatus Isy called the pipe band together and we all grabbed instruments and went off to tune up. Outside was out of the question as it was past 10 o’clock so we all jammed into an entry hall and vestibule where Isy was called away to give her Oscar acceptance speech. After a quick 25 minutes she rejoined us and Pipey quickly tuned the drones and pronounced the chanters ‘acceptable’. We gave a rousing run through of three sets with Evan and Tweedy sharing a drum. With the instruments away it was quickly becoming apparent that the beer was either finished or kaput, bottles were becoming scarce and the whisky supply was dwindling. Bandsman were dragged kicking and screaming onto the dance floor by their mothers and wives where they met James the Hat doing his boogie to the beat.

The bar closed and the hall began to empty as taxis ferried the revellers home. James the Hat accompanied me home and made a start on my whisky but fell asleep before he could get his thirst on. Thanks for a fantastic night Isy.

Next up it’s the Europeans in Forres

Cannae wait..

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One thought on “Of Mice and Pensioners”

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