The Lights Fantastic

The Season of Lights is on us, while other pipe bands stay indoors and coory up to the fire we of Kilbarchan Pipe Band are out and about welcoming Santa, spreading joy and illuminating trees, architecture and street furniture all over the place.

The first engagement is at Beith, unlike me, Santa was there. Beith do the ‘Lights’ with gusto; Santa is led through the village by a pipe band and at the end of the march there’s a funfair. As I wasn’t there I’m just imagining based on previous experience. My abiding memories of Beith are biting cold and marvelous hot chocolate.

The Kilbarchan ‘Lights’ has grown over the years, once noted only for the paucity of the bulbs it now has choirs, a brass ensemble, Jamie and of course us in daft hats. The bold George Bowie off the radio was there to make sure it all ran smoothly. The bass section joined in with the brass group and Basso even gave them a double tap at the finish. Pipes and drums looked resplendent in festoons of lights as we boogied to the other entertainment. I’ve been at these gigs where the cold has robbed us of the ability to play, with fingers numb and breath steaming we’ve botched our way through. No such worries this year, the weather was a balmy 10°C and the only thing getting in the way of a perfect start was my jacket. I managed to catch it as I struck in the drones and failed to strike in the drones rendering me superfluous for the first 2 bars. Later, in Habbies, the soup came in basins and all the sandwiches came with mayonnaise to the horror of the weans.

Our final ‘Lights’ of the year was at Erskine Hospital’s Tree of Honour parade. Now the cold at this parade has had me close to tears with the pain in my hands before so this year I wore gloves, I have no shame. And a big tartan scarf in the same tartan as my kilt which made it look like my kilt went up to my neck. Fashion and elegance have never been my forte. We were joined on the parade this year by schoolchildren and Corporal Cruachan, a shetland pony in his full mascot uniform including medals, who wasnae sure if he like bagpipes. So from leading the parade we ended up at the back looking at a horse’s bum. We look forward to seeing the video of the march with Wendy Tenor flourishing her invisible beaters, a possible candidate for ‘Donkey’ unless someone forgets an even more essential bit of kit.

Many of the residents had turned out to see the service and Basso donated his good gloves to a particularly frozen looking ex-sodjur. Good man! I have no idea how Pipey manages to play the lament in such icey conditions and

  1. be in tune
  2. not miss a gracenote

After the service we headed indoors for tea and shortbread, my tea was a nice Merlot.  Basso hunted the room for the glove thief but he’d made a clean getaway on his wheelchair, I think Basso is resigned to buying a new pair.

Normally we’d be heading for Habbies after the service but as we’re a serious band we headed for practice and Mags showed us her mismatched shoes, two donkeys in one night, it’s going to be a long year.

Next up is the Christmas party.

I hope it’s a stinker I’ll be in Belfast working..


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