The bus left really early, the ferry to Arran is always busy on Brodick Games day with kilties, wee dancer lassies in hair nets and Crocks™ and the regular round of ramblers, golfers, Canadians, cyclists and chanty wrestlers.
First order of the day is breakfast and James the Hat and I reprised an old trick we learned on Islay of having a wee Laphroaig to start your metabolism before the bacon and egg rolls arrive and then a beer after to nail everything down and give you a solid start to the day. It’s the most important meal and as such it’s important to get it right so you don’t ask stupid questions like;
Scooby at Ardrossan Harbour: “So do Arran Pipe Band have to sail over here to get the ferry to the Games?”
The ENTIRE band: “Eh!” Some collapsed in fits of laughter
The sail to Brodick was bleak with big grey sheets of rain lashing the boat, I was pinning my hopes on the much vaunted Brodick Rain Shadow to keep us dry on what was looking like a fairly driech and uninspiring day, I’m sure I was explaining this when a steward arrived to tell Clock to get his dog out of the bar.
However when the boat tied up and we’d thundered through the new terminal we emerged into weak sunshine and wasps, the wee guys were there to help Alison with her leaping, running and cowering.
Micky Blue Eyes did a quick tune of the drones while Pipey did pipey stuff to a few chanters and then we were off. I think we had marched about 20 metres when I felt my shoe lace flapping, spotted Senior, duked out and handed him my pipes while I tied my laces then grabbed the instrument and headed after the band. It’s a weird thing re-entering the ranks; do you run along the road and just dive in, run ahead and wait for a break in the music or sidle in while you think nobody is looking? I decided to start playing and march right through the drum corps, give Little Boots a proper fright, and push the Usurper Chris out of my spot and into his own.
The march went off well and we headed to the church hall for the Purvey, previously this has been organised by the church and was of belly bursting magnificence but it looked a bit sparse this year. Don’t get me wrong the sandwiches and soup were tasteful and tasty and left the same stains on the waistcoat but you know there’s something wrong when band members are in the kitchen making tea and washing dishes. Maybe we’re getting too demanding, bunch of prima-donnas wanting the red Smarties removed and peeled grapes with the cheese.
With the dishes washed we headed to the Park for the first of the massed band parades, it’s always a joy to meet up with the guys from Arran and Maybole, some of the Kirkie guys had joined us but weren’t playing. It sounded good from where I was among Maybole but it’s thirsty work so a visit to the Golf Club for refreshments was arranged. The games committee pays us handsomely and we make it our duty to ensure that that money stays on the island.
The afternoon flies past in a blur of bon homme, playing as a band, solo performances and the sort of nonsense you can only get up to when a lot of big kids are let loose with teenagers. The kitty money ran out just as a big Polis arrived to tell us to hurry up which coincided with the arrival of the last pint. What to do? Polis get quite annoyed when ignored. I stopped playing on the march down the street to the harbour as I wasn’t adding anything to the tune but random notes.
The impromptu massed band at the Ferry Terminal has become complicated by the new building and the access rigmarole, it was a lot easier when the bands formed into twos and marched up the gangway playing The Hielan Grannie. So we swept the ticket guy aside and stormed the boat, pipers piped and drummers drummed but separated by masses of passengers and dogs. The piping action in the bar was second only to the high jinx and the bus journey home was a calm sedate affair other than the singing and shouting. An engine malfunction sobered a lot of people up really quickly.
My last recollection of the day was watching James the Hat lurching into the gloom on his way to a rendezvous with a hedge.
Next up we’re over the sea to Rothesay.