Arran distilled

It’s another daft o’clock start but there is no grumbling this morning. Today we’re over the seas to Brodick; our annual bun fight and thank you to everyone for their support and hard work.

The travelling support are out  in force this morning; all the maws, aunties, grampas, dads and siblings are along for the fun. Pipey wants us in Ardrossan early so we can board the ferry without any dramas and so he can be first at the bar, I think he wants to check their pipes. We are really early with over an hour to wait but the sun is shining, the coffee shop is open and we can watch Alison fabricating drum harness pads out of foam and socks for her wee drummer. There are masses of dancers waiting with us, we thought a pipe band turned up with a shed load of stuff but a single dancer needs the help of 2 people to transport all the geegaws and whatnots of her trade.

The ferry crossing is always a floating queue for bacon rolls so James the Hat and I split our resources; he queues for food and I queue for beer, which is really just liquid food.

Brodick harbour has had a facelift since our last visit and new carparks and facilities have sprung up. The wasps are still there but not in the same numbers.

We and the committee are old hands at this and everything happens on time and before you know it we’re standing waiting on Isy so we can start. The Games Committee do not lay a heavy or onerous burden on us, the march is a mere 200m and then they feed us. The tomato soup has already entered the realms of myth and I spotted the mustard on the sandwiches this year although Mel didn’t and I had to eat hers, yeuch. There is time to taste the local produce before we meet the other bands, quickly tune up and have a short march up the street. We have been joined by Isle of Cumbrae PB in natty charcoal grey tweeds and Kirkintilloch have invited a few weel kent faces along. Kintyre Schools PB are there to show us how it’s done and it’s done in grand style as we form a huge massed band and circle the arena.

Massed band in Ormidale Park

Brodick Highland Games is brilliant because it isn’t just about the pipe bands, if anything we are very much a peripheral attraction. The heavy athletics and highland dancing are really the central events. We play a few tunes on our own and a wasp panics Mel out of the circle before we reform ranks and march out, stopping only to let an elderly couple ‘bolt’ in slow motion.

We spend the afternoon sampling the local produce and let our younger members entertain the golfers. We have duets from some of those who attended the RSPBA summer school, piping and drumming. I’m sure I heard Penny Arcade so Isy was playing too. Mikey is an interesting shade of grey and during the next massed band looks positively deathly, his old man is dispatched to the chemists and we soon see the colour return to his cheeks. And then the kitty ran out and we had a whip round for funds for the local produce. This golf club should be offering us weekend breaks.

Making ‘the piping’ look too easy

Now let me tell you a sorry tale; I must have been making ‘the piping’ look too easy because James the Hat has decided he’s giving it a go. There is much puffing and turning red but of notes there are none. The day is wearing on and the march to the harbour is heralded by the first rain of the day. The harbour is bedlam as we form a huge circle and play all the old classics, I think we even trotted out Highland Cathedral. The weans from all the bands formed a wee band under Abbi’s Pipe Majorship and they gave us a few tunes and suddenly the boat is there and we’re heading up the gangplank playing the Heilan Grannie. The return sailing is a riot of music and singing, the bus home is a mobile sauna where cameras vanish like my recollection and a certain man in a hat loses his credibility.

Thanks to all who looked after us today. Next up is Piping Live and the Worlds

Cannae wait..


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