Winning in Cowal

I don’t want to start sounding like a broken record but; early, early, early. The bus left at 6:16, IN THE MORNING! Thankfully the guys at Bobbins were on hand to provide breakfast rolls, sausage, bacon and scrambled egg. It was a long time till lunch so I tried all three and they were delicious, I tempered mine with Laphroaig sauce. James the Hat had some whisky but he didn’t inhale because he’s been drappt from the Drappt and is helping out the band with his keen sense of timing and strong right hand.

The old ferry queues and mayhem are a thing of ancient memory and the only band to join us afloat were Irvine, also on at the crack of dawn. The bright sunny weather was reflected in the mood on the bus and it was obvious that Kilbarchan Pipe Band was up for it. After we had wound through mazey Dunoon and begun the Professor Layton challenge that is putting up the Event Shelters we heard that Lower Clyde wouldn’t be joining us although Himself rose from his sick bed to remind me I still owed him a pint. Gourock mate.

I had designated myself band photographer and spent the time at final tuning being annoying and getting in the road. The band were relaxed and the new training regime of bananas fifteen minutes before we hit the line was causing hilarity. There was a bit of confusion as Pipey led the guys in, the RSPBA didn’t seem to know which arena we were in, a quick ‘right hand down’ steered the guys into the proper berth.

James the Hat looked suitably grim as he marched in making sure he didn’t boom when he should have boomed. There were no fatalities and the guys scooted back to Final Tuning to prepare for Grade 4A, thankfully no more bananas were forthcoming and the instruments and players were soon behaving.

The fact that all of our MSR tunes were heard at Thon Worlds as Grade 1 marching in tunes gives you some idea of the mountain we gave ourselves to climb, however if we hit it sweet we’re duly rewarded as Helensburgh showed.

After the serious business was completed it was time to stroll around the park and take in the wonders. A footwear malfunction saw me dancing a passable hornpipe on a treacherous slope and only just avoiding measuring my length on the grass among the dancers. From the top of the hill you get a fine view of the proceedings with background music from the bands in the circle, the Wandering Spirits bar-in-a-trailer provided some fortification as we waited to sample the free salmon.

Later, in the gentrified Lorne Bar, a drunk bought me a pint because I let him wear my hat. Free beer. Winning.

It’s a pleasant thing to be able to sit with your mates and talk toot while hiding your bottle of beer from the polis but it’s even better to go see Tide Lines with them especially if you get handed a free pint from a stranger. Second free pint, double winning, never doubt the Universe has a plan when it’s handing you free beer. The buffet had reappeared with James the Hat vanishing under a writhing mass of bandsmen as the cake feeding frenzy engulfed him and all too soon it was time to pack everything away. The Duke helpfully took our neighbour’s tent down as we stood about watching him thinking, “What the heck is he doing?”

All my practice of Highland Laddie, three sheets to the wind, paid off at the march past. During the prize giving and after picking up 4th in 4B I hear the Ballochmyle Shield mentioned, we have won this on various occasions for being 3rd out of three of 6th out of six and I gave a wee chuckle then a roar as it was coming home again. Placed 5th in 4A ahead of 4A bands. Chuffed isnae in it.

Now the mad rush to get to the bus, get changed (pyjamas this year) and get back to the parade was on. I don’t have pyjamas and didn’t fancy doing the parade in my boxers so Vegas Elvis in a kilt joined the back row of pipers. There was twirling, swapping sides even some piping and drumming. Pipey looked resplendent in a silk nightie and house coat, Winnie the Pooh brought up the rear with Vegas Elvis meandering about beside him. It was a fantastic day out, the trip back to Kilbarchan was marred by me squashing Emily to jelly. The bus stopped, I didn’t. Sorry pet.

It’s over, 2018 has had its trials but we are back on track, lots of trophies, lots of fun on the street, lots of parties and now lots of hard work as the Drappt prepare to fight their way back into the circle. We wish those who moved on all the best for the future and look forward to meeting new bandmates in the closed season. We won the street march as well btw, cherry on the cake!

Next up is the End of Season revival meeting, so brush up on your hymn singing and tambourine waving.

Kumbaya M’Lord kumbaya..


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