Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The British Pipe Band Championships

Last Thursday, our Pipe Major took the radical and dangerous step of dropping a number of people, deciding that for the British Championships the band would go on with our nine best pipers only. This was a gamble - if we did well then the decision would be vindicated, but if not then it might well be the end as the band tore itself apart.

Saturday was a gloriously sunny day, bright and hot. This, unfortunately, had something of an effect on the pipes. However, it wasn't too bad, and frankly it was better than the alternative.

We went on, we played, and we came off reasonably happy. However, we've felt that way before; it doesn't necessarily mean anything. And so, we waited.

In the end, we came third overall.

The drummers actually came first in the grade, with the pipers being judged fourth and fifth. For ensemble, we were scored fifth. All in all, a very solid performance, albeit one that still allowed room for improvement.


#40: "Pathfinder: The Varnhold Vanishing", by Greg A. Vaughan (this was actually book 39; I forgot it last time I did an update!)
#41: "Bones of the Hills", by Conn Iggulden
#42: "And Another Thing...", by Eoin Colfer (part six of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" trilogy)
#43: "Eberron: Sharn: City of Towers", by Keith Baker and James Wyatt
#44: "The Burning Land", by Bernard Cornwell

At this point, it's clear that I have no chance of reaching 100 books for the year. In fact, although I'm going to keep an ongoing log of books read for the rest of the year, I'm not going to work towards any sort of a goal.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Markinch Highland Games

Completing the trilogy of posts about band competitions, we have the biggest disappointment of the season thus far. Last Sunday we were at the Markinch Highland Games. It started reasonably dry, but started to rain as we tuned up and went on. Gary was back for this one.

The band played badly. Very, very badly.

We came seventh out of ten, which was better than we deserved.

Frankly, at this point I'm wondering if any of the effort we've put in over the winter was worth bothering with.

Bathgate Highland Games

The week after the Scottish Championships, we found ourselves competing at Bathgate Highland Games. It was another nice day. Once again, Logan led the band out - Gary was there, but not recovered enough to play.

We went on, and again I felt we played well. Better than the previous week, in fact.

We came sixth out of thirteen, narrowly missing out on a prize. (We were seventh of nine last year.)

So, once again, a rather disappointing day.

The Scottish Pipe Band Championships

About a week before the championships, our Pipe Major was taken into hospital. Under normal circumstances, the Pipe Sergeant (me) would step in and lead the band on. However, due to a series of events, I ended up not leading the band out, but instead ceded the position to a stand-in Pipe Major called Logan.

The Saturday of the competition was a nice, sunny day. The band went in good spirit, made ready, went on, and played. We played well, or so I thought. (Unlike in previous years, we didn't have to qualify for the 'real' competition.)

After we had played, the day was mostly fairly enjoyable. However, there was one fly in the ointment - Logan had dropped a couple of the younger members of the band for various reasons. Unfortunately, this was the second time they'd been dropped, and the second time they'd been dropped on the day. Both were less than ideal, and their respective parents were understandably angry.

In the event, the band came 10th, the same position we came last year. This was rather disappointing - I thought we'd played a lot better than last year. Oh well.

Yes, I will be supporting England!

For one match only, though, and only against the USA. After that, I'll be reverting to my normal policy of emphatically not caring.

It's not that I have anything against the Americans, you understand. The ones I have met have been really nice people, without exception. However, the truth is that the USA doesn't care about football (they don't even give it the right name!). Their interests lie with baseball, basketball, or American football. Which is fine... but I would prefer to see a nation that actually cares about the sport succeed. Which is certainly true of England.

Actually, in the build up to this World Cup, it does seem that the normal media insanity has been rather less extreme. It's possible that hopes are more realistic after the humiliation of failing to qualify for the Euros, it's possible that the commentators have finally gotten the message, or it's possible that they're saving it up for the actual tournament itself. (It's also possible that I just haven't seen it - I don't think I've watched any TV live for six weeks now. Or it's possible I'm getting old, and can't quite muster the same levels of annoyance. Take your pick.)

In the tournament itself, I think I will be nominally supporting Spain, for no other reason than that I seem to be forging a link with that country of late. I would consider France, for much the same reason, but for their cheating to get there.

Anyway, roll on the football!

#39: "Life of Pi", by Yann Martell (book nine from The List)

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Getting Caught Up...

Oh dear, I seem to have slipped right behind on updating the blog. It's not that there haven't been things to talk about; I just haven't been able to find the time. I'll try to put that right over the next week.

#32: "The Amber Spyglass", by Philip Pullman (book seven from The List)
#33: "Eberron: Whispers of the Vampire's Blade", by David Noonan
#34: "Eberron: Eyes of the Lich Queen", by Stephen Schubert, Tim Hitchcock and Nicolas Logue
#35: "Krondor: Tear of the Gods", by Raymond E. Feist
#36: "Lords of the Bow", by Conn Iggulden
#37: "The Catcher in the Rye", by J.D. Salinger (book eight from The List)
#38: "Star Wars: The Unknown Regions", by Gary Astleford, Owen K.C. Stephens and Rodney Thompson

Those are all the books I read in May. I haven't as yet finished any books in June (currently reading "Life of Pi"). As can be seen, I'm well in hand on getting to my goal of 60 books, and on course to successfully read 20 from The List. If I were going for 100, I am about 3 books short of where I 'should' be, due to losing ground in April. That's not too terrible, provided I get at least nine books read in June... which doesn't look good. Although, frankly, that might be something of a relief, as then I could let up on the manic pace...