It's been a rotten year. We started the season with the highest of hopes - the band was playing well, we'd recruited a number of new, stronger players, and everything seemed set for a good year.
But the performance at Dunbar was bad, and the result equally disappointing. And then the result at the Scottish was likewise bad. At that point, a mere three weeks in, it was already apparent that the band weren't going to succeed to any great extent.
It was downhill from there. The new players we had recruited gradually drifted away - they had been promised a band that was going places, and that obviously wasn't the case, so off they went. There were increased rumblings of discontent against the Pipe Major (some fair, many not), especially surrounding a ceilidh that should never have gotten as far as it did. The British Championships were another bad result.
The band took a break at that point, intending to come back strong for the European Championships. Instead, things came to a head, and the Pipe Major quit.
And so, I was left holding the bag, with a week to go before Ireland, with a band in pieces, and with some other commitments to deal with.
But, if the truth be told, that couple of weeks was probably the happiest I had with the band this year. That was the spell when I led the band out to the Wheel's anniversary celebrations and met Princess Anne, I led the band out to several events in Linlithgow, and I led the band out in Ireland, something I had never expected to do, but was glad to get the chance to do at least once.
And then came the election of a new Pipe Major, which I've discussed before and won't go into again. That was the point where I finally decided that my time with the band was over. Events since then have convinced me that it's the right decision, and a good last week and relatively good Cowal hasn't changed my mind. I just hope the band will be in a strong position to carry on without me.
The Worlds was a bad competition, for many reasons. Cowal was a considerably better competition. And it does look like the band could do better next year. (Really, it could go either way.)
But the worst aspect of the season is something I've barely mentioned all year, because it concerns something that hasn't happened. After a very promising start, the Development Band effectively ceased to exist this year due to a lack of drummers. And that's entirely our own fault - our lead drummer refused to take on learners, he refused to let one of 'his' drummers take time out to teach them, and even sent away those learners that we had. So we never had a chance. A real shame, that.
There's a practice tonight, and I think another on Thursday (though I won't be attending the latter - LC needs the car, and I could do with the break). After that comes the AGM. All that remains is for me to conclude the business of the band as well as I can now, and then tender my resignation is as good a manner as I can.