Another early Saturday morning on a coach heading for the coast, the weather was actually cold but was forecast to improve after our first jog through the circle. The atmosphere on the bus was also subdued, Tiny Bubbles burst from the speakers, lasted a few bars then the bubble burst and we proceeded in silence. This was the second last competition of what has been a very long and the very best season we have ever had, could we keep up the standard?
The ferry from Wemyss Bay doesn’t have the luxuries of the Arran boat but does a very good coffee, the boat was busy with pipebanders and highland dancers and a few bewildered tourists. There was apprehension about the state of the park after the heavy rains of the last few days but this was misplaced as the ground was firm and any wetness quickly evaporated in the increasing bright day.
Brace yourselves. I would be playing in the 4B competition today as my baffling instrument has been behaving itself since the reed split in Renfrew. The assembly of band HQ went without a hitch and soon enough we were relaxing with coffee and pain au lait, that trip to France six years ago has changed us. Across the park bands began getting ready. This idilic life could only go on for so long and then it was Pipes Out and down to business for us to. The march from the tent to final tuning has in the past been majestic and inspiring, this year we went for a more organic look and once we were there and got sorted out we looked awesome; seven pipers across the front, twenty on the field and that’s not counting the bass section and snares. For 4B this is a huge band. Getting to the line would have been a lot easier if we had six pipers and two snares as it’s a bit of a conga and why there will be no marching and deportment trophies.
No dramas! I played, didn’t trip up or commit any of the unforgivable everyday sins; early start, over/under blowing or late finish so back to the Big Blue House of Fun for a well-deserved salad. I say salad but there were pork pies in it. Before I’d picked all the veg off the pork pies I was called to do a bit of Drone Monkeying, all went well until I managed to get the tuner entangled in the chain of my sporran, big lads had to help with the unfankling. Crystaltips managed the same trick later in the day with her glengarry and a backpack.
It was another good run and I headed back to resume the salad before getting ready for the Grade 4 open, I’d decided not to play as I’m lazy so set about tuning the drones. A representative of the RSPBA appeared with a strange request; could we play for the Drum Majors as there were no G3 bands available. There were mutterings of disapproval which I totally understand as it was a bit of a liberty but this band is young and fearless and hardly knows what it doesn’t know so we said yes, played the open and then spent a frantic half hour training Big Deek on deciphering Drum Major stuff. The band looked and sounded good and the drum majors sparkled.
James the Hat disappeared now and was never seen again, lured to the beer tent by women. I finished my salad and had a second coffee. A picture of rectitude. A burning and a shining light, To a’ this place.—
We did well, collecting another set of trophies and then played off the field after Uddingston. It took a wee while to get set up what with Champion of Champion tee shirts and Champion of Champions banner and a wee nip to the loo, did I mention we were G4 Champion of Champions. I thoroughly enjoyed the street march as I wasn’t detracting from the music like usual and the final lunge to the finish was to Battle of the Somme one of my favourite tunes which finished it perfectly.
Back at the harbour I finally had a beer and settled in for a pleasant evening of watching those who had persecuted me at the Scottish lead from the bus in disarray or dragged out way before chucking out time. Another unreported party then ensued in which I may have had a second beer or even a rum.
Next up is the season finale in Dunoon, Cowal Games awaits, pray for sunshine