Use this handy Dummies guide to organise, enjoy and remember your day out at the grand daddy of all highland gatherings; Cowal Games. I’ve found the best way to survive a KPB visit to Cowal is to book myself into the Hilton in Aberdeen and watch from a distance.
Firstly, arrange a coach for as early as possible regardless of when you are actually playing. Sevenish is good, make sure you have arranged a selection of hot rolls from a local shop. Sausage is good but bacon is better and scrambled egg and scone is rerr. Make sure you have the non-meat option for the vegetarians as they don’t believe bacon is a vegetable. While people are munching and the coach heads to the Port for Pipey show them your huge collection of vodka and gin jellies then hide them away for later. While the back of the bus is rowdy with youth the front of the bus should be reserved for the old ladies to talk about knitting and the good old days. Anyone complaining about the hot rolls should be sent to sit with the old ladies. Your Pipey should arrive freshly shaven and carrying a huge bag of beer.
Secondly, ensure you have a police escort from the ferry to the park or the coach driver might take a straight road and miss all the fun of the back alleys and the circuitous route.
Thirdly, a proper home from home should be established beside the bus so you don’t have to humph the Event Shelter for miles. Someone should supervise to ensure pegs are properly hit and ropes stretched. There should be plenty of chairs and a table for the urn, 2 urns would be ideal but some sod inevitably breaks one and doesn’t own up. Install all the assorted relatives in the Event Shelter then find a big patch of clear grass and start tuning. A trained Drone Monkey is invaluable at this point.
Fourthly, form up, march on and give it the beans. Do not get yourself disqualified for schoolboy errors.
Lunch. Lunch should be served in the Event Shelter and should consist of a huge selection of cold cuts, salads and don’t forget the dips. Any neighbouring bands should feel intimidated by your glorious repast, they should gawp in wonder when the puddings are brought out and stare disconsolately at their curling sandwiches while eyeing the cheese board covetously. Anyone stung by a wasp should apply pickled onions to the affected parts as recommended by Alison.
Fifthly, roam the park taking in the sights, enjoy the playing of the other bands and cheer on the bears throwing heavy things. Gin and salmon may be tasted, in moderation. Tradition dictates that a cone may be purchased, weather permitting. At the appointed time you should head back to the Event Shelter for the next round of tuning. Drummers can return a wee bit later so their blood doesn’t boil waiting on the tuning to finish.
Sixthly, take one instrument each, form up and stride into the circle.
Seventhly, break out all the hoarded boozy jellies, beers and cocktails. Drinks should be consumed in fancy cut plastic glasses. One brain cell should be reserved for packing away the tent and getting ready for the march past. It is essential that everyone knows what the theme for the street march is but that nobody knows what anyone else has brought, the fun is in the reveal. Pipe Majors are banned from saying, “Taps aff” by law.
Eighthly, enjoy the march past, cheer for the winners. Stand next to someone a bit soberer than yourself so you can ask them about it later when you have no recollection. Every band has a different strategy for the street march, some want to play well, others want a laugh and some don’t bother with it. I recommend setting out to cause as much mayhem as possible, this will endear you to the crowd but the stewards can get right shirty. The children in the band should be encouraged in this mayhem as it will make them better more rounded people and adds to the atmosphere. If your Pipe Major decides to play in swimming trunks and flippers or your Drum Major uses a palm tree as a mace then I recommend spending a bit more time on your theme as it’s been done.
I hope you have found this guide helpful. To round off the day it’s best to head for the fleshpots of Greenock or get hammered on the bus.
Next up it’s the barbeque or should I say hog roast.