We have history at Paisley and I was reminded of it 2 minutes after our Grade 4 run but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Saturday the 23rd of July finds us huddled together at the top of School Wynd and Wendy Tenor is wincing; wrong shirt AND wrong tie. Isy is luckier and bullies her husband into bringing the right shirt. Pipey gleefully collects the fines. We have a full compliment of pipers but the drum corps is struggling as Purdy has slept in and I’m assuming Gordy is working coz he wasnae there.
We decide to dander down onto the High Street earlier than usual and join the other bands honing their sound and being nearly flattened by delivery vans a few times. It all seems a bit chaotic to an outside observer but Brian and Neil quickly isolate the problems and rectify them. I’m not one of them for a change. My pipes are a comfortable pressure under my arm, the day is overcast and it’s not 5 in the morning; I’m winning all round here.
As we march down the street there is a smirr of rain on the breeze but it’s only there to remind us of what could happen. Final tuning should be just that but technical issues raise their heads and there is some last minute footering . I’m feeling a tension in the band I don’t normally associate with playing competitions, everything seems a bit frantic and Pipey is getting his angry eyes on. Neil tries to calm us but I think everyone is feeling it and it raises its head in an ugly early ‘E’.
Outside the circle Pipey is furious and everyone knows we could have done so much better. Two minutes later I spotted a well known face in the crowd and asked how it had sounded to him, ‘Better than that time you all finished at different times.’ Sadly we have history.
I stand and listen to the bands on after us and enjoy a coffee and a natter before we are whisked away to tune for the Grade 3 competition. The ‘kids’ are joining us for this outing and we play a few sets to warm them up but strange noises are issuing from my pipes. There seems to be water running from every joint, I think I’ve been plumbed in. The Late Davey Purdey hands me tissues but when I reassemble I get one drone and it sounds like steam escaping. Ochone, ochone! I’m out.
With my drone monkey hat on I scowl my way round the band twisting and tweaking and looking for a stepladder to reach Dylan’s bass drone. Back on the High Street there is a calmer feel, I’m bopping about listening and there is some shocking blowing going on as we march. Dolomite Dave arrives in his uniform to get in free to this free event, I’m sure he’s got Aberdonian blood. After a quick tune of the drones we are into the arena and there is a lot of fidgeting, I have not seen this band so discomfited by a competition for a long time. Another ugly ‘E’ ushers in a far better performance, more controlled and the tone holds. Pipey is happier as he heads for a refreshment.
Inside the Last Post we have a meeting of Pipe Majors past and present. George Johnston is holding court, he was the last Pipey of the old Grade2 band. I depart as I have duties to perform elsewhere and rock bands to appreciate. I hear the march past went swimmingly.
Pray for sunshine, next Saturday is the Scottish Championship in Dunbarton.