Very small children could be forgiven for thinking all pipe band events happen in Gourock. In the spirit of deja vu were are back in Battery Park for the 2022 British Championships, the first major Championship for 3 years.
The weather hadn’t got the sunshine memo and low clouds and drizzle skudded by on a brisk wind, however on the bus the Party Band was already deployed and grooving to banging tunes until Tiny Bubbles and Ten Guitars derailed that. The Websergeant had to step in when Nobodies Child caused blood to run out of the speakers and we arrived at Battery park bouncing to the Venga Boys with our street cred intact.
The massive blue house of fun was erected by the labour of many and the shouting of a few, I see myself more as a supervisor now, benevolently passing on my experience. Then we chilled and drank coffee.
And when it came time to bring out the instruments all the pre competition nerves were gone. I was helping Greg on drone tuning which was fun as the weather was swinging from glaring sunlight to cold drizzle and dragging the pitch with it. Bananas were deployed, but all the humour is out of that situation, and hats were ordered on and we moved to Final Tuning where a Marshal found us and asked if we’d like to go on early. Aye, nae bother!
I can tell when this band are nervous or anxious but I now know what they look like confident, after the Best Corps of Drums at Wee Gourock and the whole band placing, the mood was let’s do this as good as we know we can and let the Judges decide. “1,2!” The first drum roll crashes out and we’re off
Back to the bus and instruments away and now maybe a beer or sneaky hotdog, I brought hotdogs to distribute among the hungry, I couldn’t give them away until a famished looking James the Hat and Sober Craig came and sheepishly asked if they could have one. ‘ Sakes people you were not stealing my lunch.
The afternoon improved when James the Hat bought me an overpriced beer and we met some old friends who dragged us to the free gin/whisky and rum tastings. These events have ended badly in the past but as the guy dispensing the spirits had been trained at the School of Tiny Measures there was no possibility of carnage. I bought a bottle of Gin for Hazel Tenor as a consolation for missing the day.
So, back at the ‘gazebos’ stuffed full of hotdogs, biscuits and Scottish tablet and dodging the new guy who was dispensing huge glasses of malt whisky like the Trevi fountain I assembled my instrument and prepared for the march past.
In the arena we stood politely clapping the Chieftain and as Drum Majors won prizes, Mickey Blue Eyes was away trying to elicit free samples from the rum guy but he only got one. Then the anticipation grew as the Juvenile winners were announced, then it’s Grade 4B, Best Corps of Drums; Kilbarchan. The band erupted, drummers are crying and I notice that in among all the jubilation that Pipey is missing. (Insert the sound of a penny dropping) Had we won? Then we saw him running and whooping and carrying a trophy back to the band and now pipers are crying and there is massed hugging and congratulations from all the bands around us. The air was punched. The Blaird of Kilbarchan even managed to join us in celebration.
It all gets a bit hazy after this and what happens at Pipey’s house party stays at Pipey’s house party, let’s just say that at practice the Duke was asking if he had a good time.
Next up is me and James the Hat on Islay helping out and after that the Hat returns to the town of his birth at the Lowland Gathering in Girvan.
PS. Please don’t put a thousand hashtags on this Michael it looks needy.