Worlds Apart

Firstly I have to apologise for there being no record of the Arran trip, this was due to lack of time. I can however announce that there were no casualties, nobody fell off the boat and the 400m dash while pushing a trolley full of beer was won by our own Wee Eck, well done!

In other news:

The World Championships and Piping Live happened, when Glasgow resonates to the sound of bagpipes and George Square is the place to be. Piping Live kicks off at noon on the Monday, I arrived back in Scotland at 7am after an all night drive, had one hours sleep, returned a hire van and still made the start of the Big Band with seconds to spare. But what a buzz! I managed to power through the day fuelled by adrenaline and beer, heard some cracking bands and collapsed into my bed at 7pm, burst. The rest of the week was a melange of; coffee, bagpipes, beer, bagpipes, pub food, bagpipes, nachos theft and bad patter. The annual ‘Falling out of the Piping Centre Crazed on Gin’ was a great success and James the Hat vanished only to reappear at the Concert Hall crazed on gin. I’d been on the go constantly for the prior six days so I rested on the seventh and watched pipe bands on YouTube, the kids met the Chilli Pipers in Glasgow. This is the second year I’ve taken Piping Live as an annual holiday; best decision I ever made.

Friday is the start of the ‘Worlds’ proper, from 11am the cream of world piping gathers in Glasgow Green for the Grade 1 qualifiers. James the Hat and I parked ourselves in the stand and listened to some fantastic playing with a short dive into West on the Green for lunch. Fantastic soup, great beer and brilliant staff. On our return the other qualifying group including Johnstone gave us some amazing medleys. Then a quick pint and home.

It’s been brought to my attention that the grading system needs a bit of explaining for the uninitiated.  So, Norrie, Grade 1 is the sunlit heights of Olympus and Grade 4B the Mines of Moria.

Our arrival in Glasgow Green coincided with a break in the weather that was to last more or less all day. We arrived on mass and immediately it was instruments out and leave the tents to the Hingers On. I’ve mentioned before about being able to read the mood of this band; there was a quiet determination, people got on with it, no fuss, no histrionics. Problems were overcome and Pipey soon had us sounding like a pipe band and calm.

Most of us have played here before and it’s easy to forget how intimidating this event is for a newbie right up until you reach final tuning and the blood quickens. So after distracting myself calming down the kids it was time to steady my own nerves before, “Bye the right, quick march!” I always remember it in slow motion. The panic lessens when we turn into the circle and the Pipey’s fingers hove into sight.

The wait for the results is broken by drinking coffee and Mickey Blue Eyes wondering if he’s too late for the all day breakfast. Alan has a wee doze. Andy is waylaid by a wandering gents outfitter who rips off his tie, declares it awful and wraps a natty silk number round his neck. Clock, who is a vision of sartorial ignorance, bails on us to take his wife to Capillow for a pie n bovril and James the Hat and I go for a dander in the park.

We fail to qualify, 15th place, but it’s the best we’ve played all year so the Party Band sends out for Port and we settle back to enjoy the spectacle of The World Pipe Band Championships. James the Hat is comprehensively drunk under the table by a young lady and about midnight he, Scoff and Pipey arrived at my house to round off the day playing obscure old tracks on YouTube and about 2:30 the pipes are out for a final medley.

Next up we have our season finale in Rothesay.

Cannae wait..

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