The week before Gourock games and the first outdoor competition saw us playing at Clydeport and fretting about the weather for Saturday, Pipey got a wee bit older and we hope wiser. Gourock is historically a wet and muddy affair but since the move to Battery Park the rain has been unable to find us and sunscreen and bush hats have been the order of the day.
On the previous Monday we were playing for the Norwegian Jade and it was a perfect night for it, the boys and girls had spent the Bank Holiday weekend indulging in traditional pastimes such as gardening and not falling off tall ladders painting the house. We marched and played for an appreciative audience, Ross was unable to join in having shrunk his kilt in the wardrobe. Again. The Wednesday was more of a practice for the historical Gourock, capes were in evidence. At the end of our performance myself and Mickey Blue Eyes played Happy Birthday on the pipes for Pipey, the whoops and cheering from the boat was incredible, I think we’ve found another crowd pleaser.
On the run up to the competition all eyes were on various weather apps and the constantly changing forecast but the morning dawned bright and sunny so Hazel Tenor and myself (out of uniform and sporting a wide selection of media devices) scooped up The Medic and headed west. James the Hat had turned up in uniform with his drum in case anyone needed bits of uniform or drum which was quite prophetic of him. I took pictures and videos and generally got in the road as the band tuned and the Event Shelters sprouted. When we first got the Event Shelter it was the only one to be seen at various competitions however it seems that every band has invested and the park was covered in beige domes. One band had a wee Pocahontas tepee about big enough to keep the beer in, I think Glasgow Skye might invest soon as their pop up gazebo went the way of so many others of the type, shriven to bits by the wind. Glasgow Police had a huge marquee of a thing that took an hour to erect and probably four horses and a team of Community Service bams to get it there.
The 4B performance was good but marred by Pipey suffering a senior moment that caused some more than usually furrowed brows in the pipe corps. It was a good start and a good finish so no rerun of the train wreck from last year. I settled in to listen to the rest of the competition and the standard was very high. The Renfrewshire Schools band played really well and PM Bowes was beaming from ear to ear when they marched off. James the Hat and I went to test the standard of the beer and it was particularly toothsome then went and harassed the guys at the fire engine as we have a 200 year old one looking for a home (long story).
Back at the circle the guys gave our MSR its second airing, again a good start and finish with more work required on the phrasing and ensemble (hark at me). The Badyins then retired to the Rugby Club and JT Hat and myself watched higher grade competitions and generally strolled about taking pictures and enjoying the weather. The Clyde coast was glorious, one guy from Glasgow hadn’t realised it got so big, wide and beautiful. The Grade 1 bands were there in numbers this year and it was the first chance to hear the World Champions, sublime!
Later, after watching beer being drunk, the results were announced. As this was the Branch Championships as well as Gourock there were two sets of results. We did well, collecting prizes in both the Grades we played in so there was no reason for Grant to try and steal the trophy from another band on his way up to collect ours. There was one moment when it looked like KPB were about to leave the field early and there was an audible sigh of relief when it transpired they were swapping places with Inveraray so they could lead the bands off. Kilbarchan marched off right behind them with Pipey’s feet not touching the grass. All in all this was a most enjoyable start to the season and after the tug of war team had dismantled the Event Shelter and all the tablet was eaten we headed back home.
Paisley hosts the British Championships tomorrow.