After the European Championships there is a hiatus in our pipe band life, if you feel the urge to go abroad this is the time to do it. Spend some quality time with your family, read a book, knit a jumper etcetera etcetera (To quote Top Cat). Boring stuff.
Hazel Tenor had gone to do charity works and I was left to my own devices. Boring stuff. So when Pipey emailed on Thursday night to say we had an emergency request for a band on the Saturday I was on it like a shot. The Inverclyde branch of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Association had been let down by a band who will remain nameless because I know their Pipe Major will have roasted those involved.
The Achi Baba parade is the Association’s big annual event to commemorate the 12th July 1915 attack by the Argylls on the Turkish Achi Baba position in Gallipoli during which over 300 Argylls, mostly from Gourock and Greenock, were killed. After our sojourn to Picardy last year this was right up our street.
Saturday morning found me being chauffeured to Gourock by Big Mick. We put out eight pipers and a small drum corps (all branches were represented). Just before we led off a voice at the back gingered up the parade with, “Remember, you’re Argylls, SWAGGER.” The weather was beautiful and the march itself was only about Deux cent mètres so we got on with enjoying holding up the traffic. The piper who played the Flowers of the Forest deserves a mention, his playing was superb and his instrument sounded bonnie. By the time the short service at Gourock War Memorial finished I had cramp in my arm from holding my pipes ‘at ease’ and was glad to lead the parade back to the baptist Church where we were invited by the Argylls for a few beers at a secret location. The crushed look on James the Hats face as he drove to his work was priceless. Thankfully we had sent our crack team of afternoon drinkers so we didn’t embarrass ourselves, I left with Scoff to go home and get changed before meeting up with James the Hat and Tweedie for a gin tasting
Next day we were to meet at the Band Room for 13:00 (1pm in old money) I cut a dashing figure at church in my uniform, had coffee and biscuits and a natter before heading over. You could tell it was a weekend off by the fact we were playing in the village square for the locals. The weather held dry for the concert and we treated the villagers to the sublime and the ridiculous; a missed command saw the pipers playing a 4/4 march while Tweedie played a 6/8. The change to rain called a halt to the proceedings and we put our instruments away and headed to Greenock to play for the Queen Elizabeth, now that is a big boat. We had to wear capes as the weather had gone south and the rain was lashing down, “Good practice for the Worlds” one wag remarked.
Now the sensible thing to do after a whole day out in the weather is to go fishing, Wee Mel assured me that midgies don’t come out in the rain; she lied. On the march out to the dam James the Hat and I passed some wee bulls in the field but they scattered before us then tagged along behind to see where the loonies were going. By the time we had the rods out and were casting my boots had revealed they weren’t waterproof, neither was my jacket. The only thing that worked was the midgie screen on my hat. After a fruitless hour, with every inch of exposed flesh covered in red welts we called it quits and headed for home. The wee bulls had gone for their big brother and he didn’t look like scarpering. So with the bull adopting an aggressive stance and discretion being the better part of valour we discreetly and with great dignity sklimmed over a fence and bolted for home.
Next up is Paisley on the 22nd.