Live Piping in Glasgow

Everyone should take a weeks holiday in their home town. It’s amazing the things you see when you aren’t rushing along head down with places to be. It’s a real eye opener to see Glasgow as a tourist; the splendid architecture and friendly people, the spectacle and drama a big city and the concerned folk talking to street sleepers. Even the Polis seemed friendly.

Getting pipes and drums to Glasgow on the Monday morning involved Hazel Tenor driving us to Shields Road and then a Subway ride to St Enoch’s and then a 50 metre walk to Maccy D’s for coffee. Not exactly an gruelling expedition I admit and it would have been easier if James the Hat or myself had volunteered to drive but it was Big Band Monday and beer would be involved.

Beer was involved almost immediately as it happened as it is an essential part of any Full Scottish Breakfast. Last year the Big Band was a bit disoganised and everyone tried to get into Band A as they did the bulk of the playing last year which left Band B with scant few pipers and a couple of drummers. Canadian voices got it sorted and once Pipey (not playing) had tuned the umpteenth piper we formed up into a phalanx of fun (some rows had 8 others had 9 one had 11) and marched down West George Street looking and sounding magnificent. The salute in George Square was taken by the Provost who then joined us for a wee tune. And that was the last time a pipe band played in George Square all week which piqued my curiosity.

James the Hat and myself had a full itinerary and spent the week listening to bands on Buchanan Street, attending plays and book launches, whisky tasting and visiting as many pubs as possible. The weather was fairly horrible and the tees and shorts of previous years had given way to big boots and raincoats. There were pea-shooter wars to be fought and musical acts to listen to. Quotes of the week were, “Seriously? You don’t know what a Belisha beacon is? It’s a road crossing named after the man who invented it, Sir Leslie Beacon.” and James the Hat’s translation of a song being sung by a Cyrillic sounding man, “Oh my goat has just died and now I’m playing it.”

The burgers at the Piping Centre were some of the best I’ve had in a while and at £3.50 they didn’t leave a bad taste in the wallet. The beer caused more of a problem as I know some pipers and drummers won’t visit because the beer is to their view pretentious middle class real alery and they can’t get a pint of Tennants lager. The Ossian was good though.

The play and book launch was Jock’s Jocks a musical dramatisation of Jock Duncan’s book that catalogues the conversations he had over 50 years with veterans of the First World War, mostly from the North East. Interspersed with songs and tunes the cast read the memories those men had from the war. It was a grand evening spoiled only by having to leave for practice as the wine arrived.

The whisky tasting in the Piping Centre was a thing of wonder, people were given whisky and didn’t finish it, I know! A wee sniff and a sip and thanks what’s next. The Americans were friendly and polite and asked very pertinent questions, other Scots were chatting up the Canadians and getting rowdier by the minute. After we had hoovered the Americans left overs we headed for a World Buffet because only Lamb Bhoona Pizza with spicy onions can hold down that size of a cargo.

The Thursday was a period of rest and relaxation as myself and the Hat went to Penwhapple a hunting for the wily trout. As I stood thigh deep in the water in my splendid new waders there were fish jumping to the left of me, the right of me, in front of me and when I looked down there was more fish than water above my boots but not one of them liked the look of what I was offering. James the Hat caught a nice we rainbow trout on his last cast and I look forward to eating it at the barbecue. The rest and relaxation is required as tomorrow the World Championships start with what was once the Grade 1 qualifiers but is now the start of four equally important attempts to wow the judges and the forecast is awful.

Cannae wait..

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