Paisley is our local competition, this small competition is getting bigger every year or would do if everyone registered turned up. The sound of the pipes and drums breaking off of the flagstones isn’t replicated at any other competition I’ve attended and the location in the town centre means maximum economic boost to the local shops and not the usual suspects in burger vans.
Our Grade 4 performance was just before noon with us meeting at 10:30. No rushing required, we left the house at 10:15 and made it with oodles of time, so did the rain. This was looking like it might be a damp squib of a day. We tuned up in a quiet looking pend half way up School Wynd but we’d have been as well standing in the middle of Sauchiehall Street the amount of traffic that wanted in and out. Pipey was considering ditching the street march to preserve the drone sound but soon listened to his own advice, “There are bands out there streets ahead of us so I don’t think we can expect prizes just go out and enjoy yourselves.” Wise words. We played the street march and loved the interaction with the Paisley Buddies.
I can tell when this band is composed, it shows in the way they march, the way they hold their heads and the easy verbal abuse. Last year even tuning the drones was a mission and it showed in the performances, this year we took our practice into the arena; no early E’s or trailing drones, heads up and going for it, even the rain stopped. On the way out I spotted a few friendly faces who’d been cheering us on.
During the performance hiatus we headed to the Last Post for a cola and some salad before returning to annoy the residents of the world’s busiest private car park. Properly dressed for the scottish summer in many layers of wool and big capes we headed to the Grade 3 street march. Grant tuned the drones and then we overloaded him with capes and dispatched him to the final tuning area which he did more adroitly than Jean who fell over a bollard. Ma McGeachy laughed so much she couldn’t play. You may have noticed something missing from the story so far, no lame excuses for not playing. I played in both performances adding my own special fingers slipping off the chanter acoustics to the mix.
Thanks to Thomas of Clan Pipers Frankfurt for streaming our Grade 3 performance live. Catch it HERE or visit and follow their Facebook page. In the pub the kids had covered the tables in Subway wrappers and cups much to the dismay of the staff who were much too busy to do anything about this breach of etiquette. The pub was mobbed as bands finished and searched for refreshment. Many local worthies had decided to make a day of it at ‘the piping’ and I saw Blairy and Elaine Robertson enjoying the atmosphere. Outside it had all gone quiet when a bass drum was heard on Gilmour Street and the cry went up, “Johnstone are comin.” Loads of people headed out for the two performances by the only Grade 1 band to turn up. We watch the Grade 1 guys at every opportunity because this is what we aspire to.
In the pub over exuberant senior players kept handing me drinks so that by the time for the march past I had to nip off for a Jimmy Riddle. They started the march past without me. I’d to grab my pipes from James the Hat and weazel into the ranks.
We were placed fourth in Grade 4, which was a surprise and fourth in Grade 3 which was an astonishment. James the Hat marching off with a juvenile band raised few eyebrows on the podium. From here on in it gets a bit messy and people who should know better decided to have a house party and there were rats and pizza and whisky and dancing it all finished with me running back in to steal a biscuit.
We are at Dumbarton next Saturday for the Scottish Championships