After the Worlds we begin our overseas tour with a voyage to Bute, with points to prove. It was not a notably early departure but just late enough to miss the ferry and force us into local cafés for bacon rolls and strong coffee.
I spent the voyage on the ferry on-deck enjoying the beautiful morning, early rain had washed the sky clean and it looked like being a wonderful trip to Rothesay. Apparently there are people in this band who see dolphins and seals so often that the fact the boat was beset by them wasn’t worth comment. Pods of porpoise and wheens of seals followed the ferry but did one person point, “Oh look, a dolphin!” NO.
The well oiled machine that is the Event Shelter Erection Team had, after a small argument about poles and feet, constructed our canvas home from home. Hot water was installed and we relaxed into the day. People wandered off to see other bands, the big dancers, mates or banged on drums. James the Hat was on his best behaviour and had already refused a Gaelic coffee, he was hanging about with the Old Ladies, twirling fluffy beaters.
My camera was highjacked about now by Emily Piper, she wandered about snapping everything and coming over to show me her latest masterpiece, I hadn’t my glasses and could see nothing. A dizzying array of foodstuff had been smuggled onto the island and the sounds on munching could probably have been heard in Wemyss Bay. All too soon the strawberries had to be set aside and the work of the day begun.
We were playing four times and Pipey had decided that he wanted his core squad in Grade 4 and MSR and us keen amateurs in the open and Grade 3. I live streamed the early performances to varying degrees of ineptitude while Lewis snapped away like a goodun. However the day was wearing on and my unquenchable drive to compete had cooled to a, “Meh! Sod it, where’s the beer?” Pipey tried to get me to play, Wee Mel deployed her smile but the beer was calling and I was listening. There was a slight relaxing of the no alcohol policy and players were permitted one drink, I think it was the pained expression on James the Hat’s face as he watched me down a red grenade that changed Pipey’s mind. I met my brother, Secundus, about now and he was in the same frame of mine as myself.
In-between trying to finish the strawberries we played in the last two competitions and it sounded good. Because of the lateness of the last performance we only had time to take down the Event Shelter, drink a bottle of Scougall’s lethal beer, donate the strawberries to other bands and head to the arena for the march past. It was a battalion style massed band and I love those. You get to annoy and chat to other bands, congratulate and commiserate with them.
Second in Grade 4B raised a cheer, third out of three in MSR raised a subdued cheer, First place and Best Corp of Drums raised a stunned silence in the Open and Third out of three a ‘whatever’ in Grade 3. Not a bad days work, several issues were resolved and the natural order restored. Renfrewshire Schools had an equally good day and it was a joy as ever to see and hear the Johnstone Grade 1 guys doing their stuff.
The street march was brilliant and the journey home was a quiet and reserved affair, we missed the ferry again but nobody was caring.
Next up is Cowal and the end of 2019.