I’ve taken a bit of time to write this as there was a lot to ruminate on. The European Championships are the only awayday overnight event we have as a band this year and historically it’s been messy.
Pipey had issued strict orders about alcohol consumption, keeping ourselves fresh for the fray and general reputation and decorum. The first can hissed open before the wheels had turned. I however had made that vow thing after Gourock and was sitting tutting and writing up the report on Helensburgh. In reality I don’t drink anything before Perth as five hours on a coach with a full bladder is too uncomfortable; Grant the Drone Monkey was the first to use the onboard toilet and that opened the floodgates (pardon the metaphor).
As we all trooped off the coach at Pitlochry with practice chanters and pads Mickey Blue Eyes noted the drummers from SLOTPB had the same idea and were playing in perfect precision just up the street. So in front of Grade 1 players, Judges and with Wee Mel away for the drinks, KPB had an al fresco practice. Tourists stared.
What saved the night from becoming one of excess was the bar manager in Elgin who pulled the blinds and turned all the tables when our bus arrived in the car park. After a wander through the golden arches everyone headed to their rooms for a sleep. Even Andy. The Gaelic singing on the bus was epic though.
Next morning in Grant Park a fresh and determined pipe band got their instruments out and started work. Four bars into Rowan Tree and I’m flagging; I’d had an issue on the Thursday night at the Primary School Leavers Parade where I couldn’t keep the bag inflated and put it down to lack of practice. Neil examined them and did magic piper stuff to them and made them playable. The Thursday parade had murdered the chanter reeds and Pipey was having problems getting them set. With time running out and as we worked on our ‘Attack’ I noticed something not right on my side of the circle and gave Pipey a shout (you know where this is leading), my chanter was a mile out and wouldn’t settle, I stepped out. The Birler and Abbi soon followed me and Big Scooby stepped out at final tuning. StuPo had made the journey north to watch us. (And to compete with City of Glasgow obviously)
Pipey and Neil seemed pleased as we headed to the coach for tea and buffet. The Unelected Social Committee had been to the Co and procured a Cold Collation of banquet proportions. This made up for the mouthful of coffee and bite of biscuit I’d had for breakfast. There was enough for everyone: but the Medic, who’d gone off socialising, returned to find a mountain of bread rolls and one slice of cheese. Well done Ladies.
There is a lot of hanging about waiting for the results and time aplenty to hear other bands, eye the beer tent covetously and see the stalls. I’d heard rumours the Army Camouflage Corps had a fascinating stand but I couldn’t find it.
When our name wasn’t announced many headed for the Beer Tent but James the Hat and I visited the Benromach Whisky Tasting stand for a freebie before he treated me to a pint. We later revisited the whisky stand, got talking and left a bit buckled about an hour later to listen to the Grade 1 final. Back at the coach we got a rousing welcome as we were a smidge weary but it was nothing to the cheer Big Mick got for his full celebrity ‘tired and emotional’ state. I walked up and down the aisle and can now claim to have walked from Inverness to Glasgow while holding a glass. Isy who’d been the life and soul of the northward party was travel sick on the southbound (this is not a euphemism) and hardly stirred. There was a close call, the toilet seat crashed closed while I was stood using it, my lightning fast alcohol enhanced brain however hadn’t noticed it’d stopped widdling about 5 minutes earlier and was stood sleeping.
As ever we arrived back late on and once everything was claimed and Hazel Tenor had loaded all the leftover jackets, shoes and me into the car we headed home where the elves put all my band equipment away and hung up my kilt. The diehards went for a pint.
Next up is a home fixture, Paisley