Struck Dumb in Helensburgh

Helensburgh Pipe Band Competition begins for me the Thursday before the actual event with a frantic round of Hunt the Lift. Everyone is looking very smug as they tell me they’ve arranged to go with so ‘n’ so and the car’s full. Oh no! What to do?

Thankfully Grant offered me a place in his Mum’s car; while I stood waiting for them Tweedy and Basso went past in their surprisingly empty car, just saying. I’d gatecrashed a family day out it transpired as Grant appeared with Maw, Paw and the Dugs. They don’t know my dark history in Helensburgh so I didn’t have to listen to, “Here, mind that time you forgot your pipes?” I had my pipes, I was in uniform and I was not playing, still being Drappt, but I planned to take photographs, drink beer and play at the March Past.

I’m sure they’ve moved the park, last year I remember walking miles to get to it but this year we came down the hill turned left and we were there. The Event Shelter was up the sun was out and there was nothing for it but to go hunt for coffee and donuts. The urn hadn’t boiled so James the Hat and I had a couple of complimentary donuts while we waited for the coffee, did a bit of banter with the donutmonger and got the coffee discounted and another couple of complimentary donuts. Whatever happened in the circle we were winning.

Back at HQ it was all angry eyes and seriousness as Pipey chased the perfect performance, poor Alan joined the Drappt as the honing went on and Ross stepped out to join us watching from the sidelines.

I thought they’d played a honker but I was hearing interference from a band final tuning just behind us, Gordon!  Pipey was beaming when they marched off.

Beer happened.

In the Grade 4A contest I noticed a strange thing, the judge was walking round tapping his clip board on his leg and swinging along to the music. The same in the Grade 3 contest. Curiouser and curiouser!

While chatting to the great and the good of Inverclyde in the beer tent I heard a voice say, “Good grief are Kilbarchan on again?” I sprinted (without a risk assessment) to the arena and failed to capture the full performance on film.

Beer, scotch eggs and steak bridies happened.

This year is turning into the year of the hat with a fine selection on show and as for the dogs! We’re rebranding as Crufts Pipe Band.

After Alison had rolled the Event Shelter up we tuned up and the RSPBA rounded us all up into a big battalion style band and marched us up to the podium for the prizes. Well done to Lower Clyde winning 4B but we got a second place, there was a subdued cheer. In 4A the winners were Kil…

We’re so used to the next syllables being marnock that there was a stunned silence. The idiot band that cheer for 3rd out of 3 just stood shaking their heads in disbelief, I think we managed a  cheer for winning Grade 3.

Whisky spontaneously appeared after we’d been dismissed and what had been a damn near perfect day ended in a 2 hour traffic snarl in blistering heat. I didn’t care, the word was out, Kilbarchan can win.

Next up The European Championships at Forres for the last time.

Cannae wait..


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