The Rites of Spring

People ask why my garden is a mess. Saturday the 25th of March was the DG&A Indoors in Sanquhar, the first sunny garden tidying Saturday of the year and I and Hazel Tenor have joined the band for the first public performance of the year.

I had a house guest over the weekend and we had popped into the Boolin Club on Friday to ensure suitably massive hangovers for the bus expedition to darkest Ayrshire the following morning. Unlike most years where we all make the long journey south in dribs and drabs we were arriving in style in a palace on wheels. Our ever growing gang of competent juvenile pipers and drummers are out in force as is the Idiot Tin and Evonne gets the first fine of the year; wrong socks, £5, kaa-ching, we all sit smugly in our correct socks glad it wasn’t us.

There is a surprise for us when we enter our allotted classroom; Mark Bennett has come to help tune us and cheer us on. After our poor results last year Mr Bennett is gingering us up helping with those procedural, technical and psychological hurdles we’ve been stumbling on.

Sandwiches are eaten, Alison sews, Alan sleeps, the only difference from any Saturday last year is that Clock is very quiet. I have decided to play, 2 years in a row, and I join in the familiar round of checking drones and chanters. Nerves are making me overblow but I get it sorted out and all too quickly we’re streaming into the hall with Mags in the lead and the last echoes of a really good final practice ringing in our ears. We get into the circle and then we wait as Pipey calms everything down and 1, 2, we’re off. This is the first time that Abbi, Dylan, Evan and Wee Jenna have played in Grade 4 and Sheena’s first time in competition. Well done.

I have a bone to pick with the AD&G branch this year; a lot of our juvenile pipers wanted to compete solo but only branch members can enter. ????? Whut’s aw that aboot?

Between performances many of us go in search of food, I decide a pie, chips and beans from the school dinner lady will be my ambrosia of choice. I join the guys and eat my lunch al fresco, I had applied factor 50 suncream before leaving the house and the beautiful spring sunshine bounced off me. Once you steeped the pie in the beans for a while it was okay. But, later, when we started to tune the drones for Grade 3 the pie and last nights Real Ale began fighting and I fled the room citing ill health. 20 minutes later I return from the toilet a new man but it’s too late; the band are tuned and their pipes are at a different temperature from mine so I’ll watch from the bleachers as they play better than they did in Grade 4. Note to self; no food until the playing is done.

Someone decided that Me, Cougar Bad and James the Hat will go in search of Ale in Sanquhar now that I’m a new man, what we find is Sanquhar Ale in the Crown Hotel and an Irish Dancing Festival, as you do. There are other bandsmen there and we think we’ve timed it perfectly when half way into pint 2 and the thunder of clogging my phone rings and Hazel Tenor tells me they are all on the bus waiting for us. We head back.

Keeping the bus waiting; £5, kaa-ching!

The toilet door won’t lock and the light won’t work (some palace) so using the loo is fraught but as the beer is open people dare the perils. The mood on the bus home begins subdued as we were placed 4th behind higher grade bands but our natural resilience kicks in and we start to get into the mood for the evenings Whisky and Gin tasting event.

Both were excellent but the spicy pizza lifted the prize.

Pipers and Drummers tasting Gin

Next up is the GWOS Indoors at Coatbridge.

Cannae wait..




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