Helensburgh Highland Games caused a lot of hilarity this year by simply moving to another park. Pipey announced it wasn’t in Hermitage Park but had moved to Eastend Park. Sheena Tenor asked if it was in the park on the left as you went down the hill from last year, Pipey told her that he’d have said it was in the same park if that was the case. So she asked if it was in a different park at which point Tweedie’s eye started to twitch and Pipey said “yes, On King St East do you want the postcode?” So it’s not in the same park she asked, again No. Right, okay! It’s in a different park. Alison Tenor after a ten second pause said, “It’s in a different park Sheena.” She was getting a lift from Pipey anyway so I’ve no idea what it was all about.
The Medic had drawn the short straw and was Designated Driver, the day was overcast and humid with a bleak forecast. After we loaded all the tables and chairs and urns and drums and pipes into the cavernous boot we sat back and the Medic soothed us to Helensburgh with mellow sounds and air conditioning.
As it was a different park we had no idea where to leave the car, as we cruised down the street looking for a highland games we noticed a large gathering of people in kilts. The Medic stopped and we piled out, grabbing all the whatnots and geegaws and approached the kilties. It was a wedding, we were miles from the park.
Hermitage Park is more picturesque than practical; dramatic paths and sudden bushes abound. Eastend park is big boring and flat; perfect for the marchin’ and blawin’ fraternity. Having walked miles we entered the park and the Dickies (whom we’d met) out of uniform who’d casually sauntered in were pounced on and monies demanded, Dolomite Dave could have saved them a few shekels.
I assembled my pipes and excuses and heezed them into life; eight bars of ‘Rowan Tree’ later I am out of breath and sweating. I start again, and again, and again. I have never had anything in my life curtailed because of Hay Fever but I cannot keep the bag inflated and admit this to Pipey, I’m out. I reach for my camera.
As I step back and begin viewing this with a photographer’s eye I can’t help notice that this is a really young band, a few old fossils excepted. Pipey does all the relevant tweaking, shouting and ‘angry eyes’ that are required to set us up as a pipe band. I film them as the cross the flat expanse of the park but technical ineptitude means I capture the last 9 seconds, out of focus.
The Grade 4 nerves dogged us again with an early E and Pipey so focused on getting his pipers to close the gaps in the circle he forgot to play the tune. Everyone was annoyed, the early E’er most so.
The prairie like expanses of the park made spotting friends and former Band mates easy and we toddled off to do the social round between performances. I had a blether with some old friends and headed back to help Isy position her hips to prevent sound leaking from the circle. Long story.
The Grade 3 performance was far better and afterwards, when pipers were sitting about practicing tunes and Mickey Blue Eyes had climbed over a wall to retrieve his music we allowed ourselves a wee cup of tea to celebrate. This was a ‘dry’ affair. The results for Grade 3 were heartening with the pipers getting 4th but pipped at the post for a place.
As we headed home I reflected on the enjoyable and alcohol free nature of the day and know the European Championship in Forres will be carnage on wheels.