Sunday was not a good day.
It started brightly enough - I woke up feeling pretty good about things, went to Tesco to get the milk I had forgotten we needed, and then LC and I made ready and headed over to Bridge of Allan.
Shortly after arriving, I had an errand to run - the band were donating a prize at these games in memory of our Honorary President, who had died just before our wedding two years ago (in fact, I received the text informing me of it while at the wedding rehearsal). So, I headed over and delivered that.
Meanwhile, we were being entered into the Grade 4 competition. Due to a mix-up with the entry forms, we had only been entered in the Grade 4MSR, which is a slightly different competition, and would prefer to do both. So, that arranged we had a race to get ready.
And then things went horribly wrong. For some reason, we've been having issues with chanter reeds this year, where they seem to have a really short life in the spot between "too hard" and "too easy". In particular, my reed was causing problems with a flat F. So, the Pipe Major adjusted it, making it a little easier. This shifted the problem, so there was now a flat G. So, another adjustment, and again a little easier.
And then, horribly, it hit that "too easy" point, where whenever I started up the drones, the chanter sounded. And this about a minute before we were to go on.
At this point, I expected simply to drop out of that competition - better for the band to do well without me than for me to play and mess it up for everyone else. I wasn't happy at that outcome, for obvious reasons, it's just one of those things.
What actually happened was that the pipe major switched the reed for another one, adjusted it a bit, and we went on. Which was, I must admit, something of a surprise, but a pleasant one. And the performance was... okay. Not great, but about as good as could be hoped I think.
There was then about an hour for our second performance, during which the pipe major tried to get the new reed properly adjusted. Only it just wouldn't quite some in. So it got switched again, and the new reed again wouldn't quite work. More adjustment, and another reed. And another. (I really don't know what's going on there, because it really shouldn't be this hard.)
Anyway, he finally got it sorted (ish). And then the rain started.
(I should perhaps note at this point that we did have our waterproof capes with us. Alas, they were in the car, and we didn't have time to go get them. Yes, we got wet.)
We played again, and the performance was... okay. Though by this point I just wanted to go back to bed and not come out again for a week or two. (And I'm really not looking forward to the World Championships in two weeks.)
The rest of the day was the now-traditional waiting for the march-past. This was made somewhat easier by LC being there, for the first time this season; shame she couldn't have had a better day, but there it is.
The march-past was likewise okay. They're pretty standard by this point, and at least by then we'd got our capes on. Additionally, we had been joined by four of our five learner pipers (and one of our learner drummers), which was nice - good to see the hard work on the teaching front start to bear fruit.
I don't actually have the full results at the moment - they haven't been posted at the time of writing. I do know we weren't in the top four for the Grade 4 contest. For the Grade 4 MSR, we came second overall, which was a stunning result. So stunning, in fact, that we didn't even muster a cheer, it was so unexpected. (It also, coincidentally, meant we won back the cup that we had ourselves donated that morning. Hugh would have been very proud of that.)
(Update: We came last out of 11 in the Grade 4 competition - 11th for piping and 7th for drumming. We came second out of 4 in the Grade 4MSR - 2nd for piping and 2nd for drumming.)
And that was that. The journey home was blessedly quick - the advantage of taking cars rather than a coach. And then an evening of eating pizza, watching part of "Spider-Man 2" and the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
There are now three competitions to go this season. I think that, next year, I'll forgo these weekly reports - they're getting too depressing. But then, I don't think that's the reports necessarily.
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