Monday, August 18, 2014

The World Pipe Band Championships 2014

The World Championships is actually one of the competitions I tend to enjoy the most. This is partly because it's so late in the season, and partly because it's in the centre of Glasgow, which affords the opportunity to leave the grounds and go and do something else, rather than just sit around waiting endlessly. In the worst case, it's even possible to just get a train home, although I'd promised myself not to do that again as I didn't want to be absent for the march-past.

My hopes were not high for this year's competition though. In order to qualify for the final, we would need to be in the top six out of sixteen in our qualifying heat - something we had never achieved all season. Still, with a good performance it might be possible...

Unfortunately, the Worlds requires a very early start. Although we weren't playing until 11:20, the bus needed to be in the park by some early hour, and so the pick-up was at 6, in turn necessitating a 4:30 wake-up. Nice.

And so we staggered out, got to the bus, got into town, and then waited. Eventually, we found a Cafe Nero that had opened, got something to eat (though it wasn't all that might have been hoped), and started feeling a little more hopeful.

The final prep for the competition did not go well. The rain wasn't bad, but it was bad enough to play havoc with the pipes, and the pipe major was getting increasingly frustrated - to the point where at one stage he had a go at me for overblowing my pipes and underblowing them at the same time. Thank goodness there's only one more competition this season.

Anyway, we went on, and did out bit. Mostly, the performance was fine, with one exception. Once again, the band had a bad start to our performance, which meant we might as well not have bothered. (On the plus side, it wasn't my fault - in fact, my performance was actually fine throughout. So I'm not taking the blame for this one.)

At this point, LC and I went back to hear some of the rest of the bands, and got thoroughly cold and wet doing so. There were about 10 bands after us; I only think I saw one that was less good than we were.

We didn't qualify.

At this point, LC and I went into town to kill some time, I failed to buy a copy of the new "Player's Handbook", we did get some ideas for nephew #1's birthday present, we got some lunch, and it was generally okay. Then we went back to the bus to read for a bit.

It was only some hours later that we heard that we actually weren't doing the march-past after all. Which was a bit frustrating - had I known, we would have packed up, taken the train home, and saved the rest of the day.

The journey home was not the best, due to a combination of tiredness and alcohol. But we eventually got in, ordered pizza, and gradually unwound.

The last competition of the season is the Edinburgh Highland Games on Saturday. I will be very glad once it's done.

(And, yes, it's fair to say I don't enjoy competing at all. The problem is that I enjoy almost everything else about being in a pipe band, and especially the teaching, but I just don't know how to separate out the two.)

#42: "Pathfinder: Ultimate Campaign", by Paizo Publishing

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