The week after our truimph at the British Championships, the band returned to Annan for "The Riding of the Marches", which was part gala day, part Highland Games, and part something else entirely. Whatever it was supposed to be, it was a competition at which we had high hopes of doing well.
Once again, it was a bright and sunny day. We had seven pipers this time; those who had been dropped the previous week had been offered the chance to compete but had each had something else on, while two of those from the previous week were also busy. The drum corps was in full attendance once again. There were a total of seven bands in our grade.
We played well, I thought, although I did also think it seemed a bit 'thinner' than the week before. Still, I had no great complaints about the performance.
There then followed an afternoon of waiting, which featured watching Germany thrash Argentina at football - I wouldn't have expected such a one-sided game.
There was then a lot more waiting as the massed bands assembled to go play, with the added fun of horses being thrown into the mix (it being "The Riding of the Marches", after all). Unfortunately, horses do not like the bagpipes, by and large, which made things occasionally interesting.
Eventually, we did our parade, and got to the prize giving. Events there were controversial, to say the least. At length, we came fourth in our grade, and won the drumming prize (and also the "Best Bass Section" prize, which seems unique to this competition).
However, initially, we didn't win the best drum corps. The prize was awarded to some other band. It wasn't until our Pipe Major collected our prize that he realised the other had been given to the wrong band. There then proceeded to be a stewards' enquiry, culminating in the other band being forced to hand back the prize, which was then turned over to us.
And there was more fun to go. As we drifted back to the bus, I decided to dash to the toilet, rather than use the rather poor facilities on the bus. So, I duly told someone where I was going, and asked them not to leave without me. As I emerged from the toilets, I was then treated to the sight of the bus gradually receding into the distance!
Luckily, I was able to dash across the car park fast enough to catch them, bang on the side of the bus, and so attract attention. Still, could have been awkward, not least since my mobile phone was also on the bus, so I couldn't call them to let them know they're mistake. (I did at least have my wallet on me, so it wouldn't have been a total disaster.)
So, anyway, that was that. At this point, we've actually won more prizes than we did in the whole of last season, and with half of the season still to go. The band has not competed for some three weeks now, and at the moment the bulk of the band is actually in Spain at the moment (where I've heard things aren't going terribly well). Our next competition is in Ireland this weekend, for the European Championships. I just hope we do rather better than last year...
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