Arran by instalments

We had been doing a running gag on FaceBook about ‘what did your pipe band do to get ready for whatever’. Well for the Worlds we returned from Arran and lost umpteen pipers, drummers and almost the entire tenor section to gastro-intestinal turmoil and Covid. We should all be fine before the Big Day except Ma McGeachy who I’d imagine they’ve locked in the summer house. I’m getting a wee bit ahead of myself here so lets rewind

Saturday morning was a proper Scottish August morning; cold and bracing with low cloud and chance of rain. I had been expecting Pipey to come and collect me as I’m far to precious to walk to the bus but given his record of late for forgetting stuff I headed out early and got scooped up by Jaffa and Co. Now rumour may have leaked that there was to be a documentary film unit, with us as ‘colour’, for an upcoming broadcast and as I arrived Little Boots and Ma McGeachy were being interviewed while we all tried not to look at the camera. With everyone aboard and ‘Decorum” mode initiated we departed for Ardrossan.

First impressions at the harbour caused misgivings, they were backing cars and lorries off of the ferry that we were to embark on. Pipey announced that the boat was broke and that all the passengers from the previous cancellation were still waiting and had dibs on access. So drummers drummed and practice chanters were played and coffee was drunk and two hours later they loaded all the cars and vans back on and we charged up the gangplank for bacon rolls and beer. It was a pleasant crossing and as I was playing the role of Man Off The Drink after having a long talk with myself after the Scottish I had a lovely glass of fizzy pop.

Those familiar with our Arran exploits will know the drill; tune up, bags on the van, march magnificently up to the the park, parade as a massed band and head to the church hall for scran. This was the first time the start of the games was postponed due to lack of bands. I had turned up to play today and play I would, whether I knew the tunes or not. There is now the eerie spectacle of me drifting into the Golf Club in search of Cola but you have no idea how hard it is to get a can of pop. After missing out on yet another round I had to express my concern and was told they’d thought I was only a greetin faced moany git when I was drunk. I had to resort to theft in the end.

The weather was what we’d describe as Typical Arran, glorious sunshine while the mainland was shrouded in mist. As we travel light when visiting Brodick I had no hat and my sunscreen was in my case which was in the van which was locked. The Medic went in search of a committee member while I stood wringing my hands and lamenting the situation until the hall keeper flagged down a man who knew a dude who got the keys and opened the van. I messaged the Medic to say we were in but he never got it as he wanted into the van to get his phone.

Normally I’d be getting a bit vague about now about the order of events but I have to say I enjoyed the band concert and the second massed band apart from Moving Cloud which I can nearly almost not play totally badly.

Another Arran trip was drawing to a close and everyone was bracing for the traditional turn in the weather about 4pm but it didn’t arrive, astonishment was expressed. This was not as great as the looks of pity on some faces as I slurped the last of my diet juice, grabbed my pipes and headed for the street march. Isle of Cumbrae would be joining us as they needed something to lean on. This march produced the funniest event I have ever seen on the move but I won’t relate it here as I’m still dining out on the story.

Down at the harbour we stamped to a halt and fell out to find our cases which were once again locked in the van. Whilst resignedly waiting the tannoy burst into life and announced the boat was broke but the other boat was on its way and would only be two and a half hours. If only there was some way of entertaining ourselves.

Pipes and drums came crashing to action and bottles were produced, songs were sung, congas were congaed and hoekeys were koekied. Maudlin songs were sung and old favourites were played until Pipey reminded our guys we had to play those reeds at the Worlds. But the party had started and continued onto the ferry, when it arrived, and over the water and up the road into the Bowling Club where it fizzled out in the small hours.

And 24 hours later the lurgy struck.

Next up is a week of frantic tuning and setting and then it’s the World Pipe Band Championships at Glasgow Green, ah the Glesga banter!

Cannae wait..

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