A group of people in highland dress playing the bagpipes

Reel around Coatbridge

After Sanquhar there is a wee four week competition hiatus that lets players iron out inconsistencies, Pipe Majors unknit their brows and James the Hat and myself get some fishing in. And maybe a beer.

The Drapt have been working hard but for three of the four weeks I was unable to join them due to coughing and blowing oysters. You really don’t want to blow a common cold into your pipe bag or it becomes an uncommon pain in the chest that can haunt you all season. Due to this lack of contact I had no idea what to expect from the band when we headed to the GWoS Indoors at Coatbridge. This is our local branch of the RSPBA and it does well to support the guys who’s hard work makes all these competitions happen. I have to be honest it mystifies me when pipers name-drop senior pipers and drummers. “Oh aye, Wully was saying this and Boab says he’s a numpty and that Erchie played sublimely at the College.” I know nobody. I’m an adult learner and it’s only just dawned on me that it’s the same faces that keep turning up at event after event and you don’t want to wander up to a vaguely familiar man in a kilt and say, “Hello I’m ————.” like some innocent American. The answer is likely to be ‘Who?’ or ‘So?’

Those of the Drapt who had made the journey were in band uniform like myself to get in free a la Dolomite Dave. I had designated myself Band Photographer and barged into the classroom where the weird alchemy  that turns cat strangling into music was being practised. I took some pictures, Pipey called a 15 minute break and I went for a roll n sausage and a coffee which transmogrified into a chicken curry. The band were on first which can be a blessing or a curse however when they marched on and assumed the concert formation Pipey was standing between the Judges tables and the pipers at each end were blowing papers off the desks with their chanters. I thought the band sounded good and I’d decided to settle in and watch the whole of Grade 4.  After a quick shuffle of the chairs to make space the Renfrewshire Schools Pipe Band, with Wee Evan playing side drum, marched on and played well. I enjoyed all the bands who played but North Lanarkshire Schools were on fire.

Pipey had decided that this was the competition to wheel out our oft abandoned MSR. Due to a rule change if you decide to ‘play up’ you have to ditch the four march MAP set and play some dance tunes. It wasn’t pretty but fair play to the guys the tunes were recognisable.

During the Grade 3 competition I stood at the back of the hall with my cheeks clenched as I’d been at Paisley Beer Festival the night before with James the Hat. I was in a quandary, I needed to break wind but dairnt and I didn’t want to miss Johnstone’s performance by leaving the hall. Just then a wee boy in front of me turned round and delivered a message from the gods that even Croesus couldn’t have misconstrued. His Tee shirt read ‘Just Do It’, so I did. No dramas.

I had other duties to perform so missed Scooby going up to collect our prize for second place, that’s second place, not out of two either. I could not be more pleased for the guys who played.

Later we all met up for a few ales in the Bowling Club, James the Hat brought his cracked ribs and wincing but it never dampened his enthusiasm. For those who don’t know he had the choice of two beds after the beer Festival and chose the imaginary one hastening his meeting with the floor. I was on my best behaviour because Hazel Tenor was watching me. Closely.

Next up is Gourock, the Outdoor Season opener. Pack your cape and the sunblock.

Cannae wait..

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