The British Championships is a local event for us and as such it’s a morning of lazy baths and leisurely gardening the only small cloud on the horizon was how we were getting there. Big Mick had provisionally offered us a lift but events conspired against him and Hazel Tenor and I tootled into Paisley, pausing only to avoid the profiteering car parks, and rolled smartly into the official free car park. (Bit of a Purple Brick comisery moment for the guys paying £30)
I’m not playing and as the sole adult member of the Drapt I began my championship by being unable to find the band and wandering like a wee lost soul through the massed Event Shelters. The weather was glorious spoiled only by a gathering wind and aeroplane noise. James the Hat had ditched us for the thrill of the Scottish Cup Final and witnessing a bit of history. I was doing something I had vowed to avoid; not drinking at a big event. This isn’t because I’m an alky but a coping mechanism that stops me knocking my chakras out of line and assaulting someone, I had a plan. I would watch pipe bands all day and avoid the Event Shelter.
The band were on late and I spent most of the afternoon watching the Grade 4B competition, usually the Major championships have a couple of 4B qualification rounds but this year it’s just the final, 21 bands slugging it out and having to wait until the march past to find out who won. No lunch time tears or the early bus home. The great thing about planting yourself by the arena is the number of friends who suddenly appear for a chat. Clock appeared carrying a pint, “oh! By the way, see that beer you left in my house? I might have drunk it but I’ll definitely buy you a pint as soon as the guys play.” So I’m thinking one pint and three hours until I need to drive, that works.
The guys came on and gave it the beans but Pipey and Rab didn’t look impressed. After they had played and I’d bought my own pint I headed for the Event Shelter and glory be there were Inveraray warming up beside us again, it was time to sit back and be entertained, people pay money for this. Old Blue popped in to say hello and catch up, he gave us all a real scare earlier in the year and we hope he has the medical appliance removed shortly.
The Badyins were schmoozing in the Beer Tent.
After a bit of time the arguments and bickering in the Event Shelter drove me out into the park, there is a dyspeptic atmosphere at the moment, our usually harmonious troop has been bruised and people hurt by well-meaning decisions. I won’t be playing this season and it has robbed me of the impetus to practice as anyone who has seen me feigning a collapsed lung when playing will testify. I stood and cheered as the bands marched past the Chieftain and revelled in the playing of the Centre bands. The Johnstone Grades 1, 3 and the Renfrewshire Schools ‘Battalion’ paraded into the arena, their playing on the way from the bus park drowned out the Centre bands and they were miles away.
This was when my sober self said, ‘well done avoiding the Event Shelter,’ in a smug voice. There is a tricky line to tread when approaching the March Past; too early and you’re hanging about for an hour bursting but you don’t want to be the last band on by ten minutes. KPB were the last band on, perfectly timed but I’d have been fretting and shouting if I’d not been getting soothed by the playing in the arena.
I hung about long enough to hear Johnstone become British Champions at Grade 3 then headed home to a whisky tasting where me, James the Hat, The Medic, Mickey Blue Eyes and Senior didn’t mention bagpipes once and the Keeper of the Drams had procured a bottle of 12 Yr old Bunnahabhain to help The Hat drown his Cup Final sorrows.
Next up is Lilias Day which I will be attending as my alter-ego The Preses of the General Society.