Friday 15th was the start of a hectic playing week for the band. We were double booked, but Pipey had decided we are a big enough band with experience aplenty so two bands shouldn’t be beyond us. Ships had to be played off, gala queens invested and old cars paraded. I love playing at these types of events however the boat was too early for me to make and a misunderstanding saw me watching telly and ironing my socks while Hazel Tenor zoomed over to Stewarton.
So while one band sparkled on the quayside in Greenock the other began the first of three parades in Stewarton. Both events went off smoothly, nobody was indicted for crimes against piping and my socks looked lovely.
Saturday was the main event in Stewarton. Bandsmen began drifting into a pend on Avenue Square to avoid being swept away by the Ayrshire Monsoon, capes were in vogue and those who hadn’t asked the Q-bloke to replace their split and holey shoes wished they had. Indications were that the Corsehill Queen and her Court were going to get soaked, which was a shame. Men in Bonnet Guild Tam O Shanters and hi-viz jaiskets rounded us up pointed us in the right direction and Mickey Blue Eyes led us off in capes under a clearing sky. The Queen (Amy Jose) was gorgeous in her coach pulled by a mighty stallion with the Court around her.
Meanwhile, back in Paisley, Pipey and a few Irregulars were entertaining the car viewing Buddies and passing round the bucket. Rain was keeping the crowds small in Paisley but in Stewarton the rain was off and the remainder of our duties were a pleasure. I’d never heard of the Bonnet Guild Parade or the Corsehill Queen but that doesn’t diminish the obvious hard work that goes into making it a spectacle or the good time had by all. I bought cheese on the way home but the jury is still out on it.
Sunday had us back in Stewarton for the final parade, capes again were worn but weren’t ultimately needed. We turned up early and some innocent suggested we wait in the pub and he’d call us when we were needed. Hashtag Smiley Face.
After an uneventful march to the War Memorial Mickey Blues Eyes; who’d been asked to play Johnny Cope after the lament (he doesn’t know it) but suggested The Black Bear then played Highland Laddie while we stood eyeing him doubtfully and eating pakora. We led the parade to the church and formed an honour guard while the great and the good of Stewart filed into the kirk. Pipey dismissed us. A voice shouts, “The Queen’s no been.” Pipey undismissed us and we played the Corsehill Queen and her Court into the church. Job done. I had a post parade pint and James the Hat watched me covetously whilst sipping Irn Bru.
Tuesday was a long hard practice, Wednesday we Pied Piper’d the primary school leavers to their dance/prom, Thursday I piped my friend to his rest and Saturday we headed to Greenock for a BIG boat. The passengers on Royal Princess were very appreciative, asking for tunes and generally being enthusiastic as only Americans can. All good practice for Sunday at Helensburgh. I’m in the picture twice by the way, see if you can spot me.