Coatbridge, GWoS and cake

It’s been a hectic few weeks since  Sanquhar as we work hard at sounding like a pipe band, working on all the wee things that make a mince performance a good performance and a good performance a prize winner. Mark  Bennett continues to work with us on the instruments, sound and anything else that takes his fancy and the RSPBA sent a crack team of instructors to appraise and guide us; thanks to Big Gordon Lower Clyde, Keith and Fiona from Johnstone and Steven fae the Glesga Polis. Apologies for my playing but I had cramp in my wrist from buttering sandwiches all morning.

My sister graciously offered to drive a few of us to Coatbridge for the GWOS branch indoor competition. Big Mick and myself spent the journey criticising her driving, the Medic kept quiet in the front as he was within punching distance. However a disastrous left turn took us to the roadworks at Deafhillock and the 15 minute wait at the lights made a fine for lateness a real possibility. We arrived in the car park of Coatbridge High School on 2 wheels with 1 minute to spare. And Pipey was late; Result. I put a fortune in the Idiot Box last year and the one time I left early the Medic slept in and we were late.

The fact that I’m here and playing is down to Pipey forgiving me for hardly being at a practice in the last 2 weeks and I was prepared to be dropped if my playing was mincer than usual but it was quality mince so I’m playing. We have a big band out today with Ma McGeachy making her debut on the tenor line. Pipey and Scott practised the dark arts on the chanters and Alec and Grant zoomed about twiddling drones while Clock climbed onto a filing cabinet. All the hilarity has gone out of tuning the instruments these days.

Walking to the performance area we were a tartan conga line, some were quiet and introspective others chattered about nothing, the nerves affect people differently but we managed to get into the hall and form a concert arc with no blood spilt or bones broken. It’s a big hall and it’s packed, fidget, fidget, adjust pipes, shuffle, shuffle, BREATHE! “One, Two…” We’re on.

We passed Kilsyth on the way out, they thought we were doing a remake of the Clowns Car Sketch as a seemingly never ending line of bandsmen came through the door. We have a bit of time to see other bands and get a coffee. Scoff headed straight for the chicken curry but I settled for the much healthier Caramel Shortcake (it had sprinkles. sprinkles!) It’s pleasant to meet former bandmates for a chat and to have a blether with other players but the competition is the thing so we have to get set up for the Grade 3 run. Back in the classroom Evonne is blowing out the candles on a huge birthday cake and wearing an enormous birthday badge. Chris and Richie had left earlier, I don’t know if this was a mutual thing or they were red carded but it means position changes on the arc. Another big tartan conga led to another solid performance in the hall and now we can relax and watch the big boys. North Lanark Schools and Bothwell Castle were on fire, however this will be the first time I’ve heard Johnstone play since their elevation to Grade 1. They played their 2 sets back to back but re-tuned during the pause, Pipey said, “They’ve got the same tuners as us.”

Me; “What, Alec and Grant?”

Evonne receives the prize from Mr Crookston

Well done to all the prise winners and thanks to the branch for organising it, we’ll take those third places in Grades 4 and 3 and be back next year to improve on them. Our next outing is the season opener at Gourock.

Cannae wait..



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