A young man in a kilt is playing a practice chanter

Where Worlds Collide

Friday of Worlds week used to be the Grade 1 qualifiers when bands from the Antipodes played twice then went home but this year there have been changes and all the bands will play four times over two days and all the results get tallied up. This means a lot of hard work for the Pipeys as they try to hone their sound and keep it. I, however, am in the house waiting for a furniture delivery and looking at the rain glad to not be out in it.

With the furniture unpacked and the boxes away to the dump (thank you James) it was time to head to Glasgow Green via a couple of seedy pubs (one had Charlie Drake on the jukebox for pities sake) we arrived just in time to miss the first round of MSRs and head to West on the Green where we bought lunch and didn’t sit about like a couple of seagulls mooching leftovers. Here we were joined by a group from Major Sinclair Memorial who watched us eating our Currywurst and plotted to get us drunk so we’d play badly the next day. If only they knew.

Replete with sausage and ale we headed back to catch the Medley performances. The park was wet underfoot but the weather had brightened and we were looking forward to some excellent playing, the bands must have been blowing bubbles in the earlier performances. James the Hat and I sat in our usual area on the stand and prepared to have our weatherproof jackets tested. I’m always a bit afraid during the playing as there are some big powerful cameras recording the event and I don’t want them to record me sleeping. There should be special points awarded for playing recognisable tunes and not the interminable finger exercises some bands are wont to play. It was all good but the best bit was slurping a pint and watching James the Hat drink orange juice, competition tenor drummers need a clear head if they are to wing it on the morrow.

World Championships 2019

This year myself and Hazel Tenor had decided to take the car in preparation for an early exit, it was just as well we did as Pipey had left LuLu’s drum in Kilbarchan. A quick dash along the M8 and yours truly had saved the day if not Pipey’s wallet which was heavily fined by Hazel Tenor. By the time I returned the Event Shelters had been shuchled together and tied down and were crammed with instruments and urns. I put my photographers hat on, had a huge Gaelic coffee and began snapping.

Pipey was all business, probably hoping we’d forget about a certain drum, and Mark had dropped by to have a listen, our new drum tutor was twiddling with drums and soothing nerves and it was a picture of professionalism; Pipers piped, drummers drummed and weans zoomed about.

The main topic of conversation and disbelieving looks around the arena was the addition of Jim Collins to our ranks. We have invited Jim along over the last few years to listen, advise and teach our drum corps. Fortunately for us he knows a good thing when he sees it and has decided to don the Ancient MacLeod of Harris and join our snare line next season. Many seasoned players walked away shaking their heads and muttering.

There was a weight of expectation on us after our fifth place at the Scottish and a lot of sucking teeth and shaking heads from former players after the run in the circle. It was now in the laps of the judges and time to hunt a wild burger or even a burrito, good solid Scottish food to keep the damp out. The results weren’t til later and we had time to explore.

Anyone who hasn’t been to a major championship before can be a bit overwhelmed. It’s not like anything else, there is no silent respectful audience waiting in hushed expectation for the bands to take the stage. There are bands everywhere; sometimes tuning up ten metres from the bands competing and everyone around the arenas is giving a commentary or yacking to old acquaintances. There are bands hiding behind buildings, around corners and all over the paths. At the end of the day when you’re sitting in a quiet room you can still hear bagpipes.

There is a gradual thickening of the crowd at the base of Nelson Column as the time for elation/heartbreak arrives and huge whoops from those who made the cut. The pipe band equivalent of the early bath is an early trip to the beer tent, this was made. I spent the rest of the day listening to bands (even the 4B finals), drinking beer and talking to strangers before heading back to the Event Shelter for shortbread and sandwiches. We packed up, boarded the bus and headed for the Boolin Club to listen to the results on t’internet and that never ends well.

Next up is Rossie for the Bute Highland Games.

Cannae wait..

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