The penultimate competition of the season was also our biggest challenge: could we do well enough to qualify for the final? It was a big ask, but we'd made significant improvements over the past month so perhaps there was hope...
Annoyingly, the organisers of the Worlds have a policy that all bands have to arrive in the car park by 7:30, regardless of when the band is playing. And so I had to get up at 4:45am in order to get ready on time. Not pleasant. Still, it was immediately obvious that it was a better day than last year.
We got to the park, went to get some coffee, wandered around for a while and then, when the time was right, we got ready to play. Our performance was at 9:50 (ish), so there wasn't actually too long to wait.
The performance itself went very well. Indeed, when we came off we were actually confident - we'd had our best performance of the season, and surely had to be there or thereabouts?
And then I went for lunch, which I had at McDonalds at about 11am. That's the worst part of getting up so early - it totally messes up your mealtimes.
We didn't find out the result until 2:50, shortly before the final was due to start. We hadn't qualified... but that could have meant 7th or 15th. So some of us went to the pub while waiting for the march-past.
The march-past was fine, if a bit tedious. It takes about 2 hours to get all the bands onto the field, during the course of which it became apparent that the decision not to wear jackets was a mistake - it was nice and warm at 6pm; not so warm at 8, and that was only the start of the results.
At the start of the ceremony we were asked not to leave after our grade was announced but instead to wait until the end. This was fair enough, we thought. Until, that is, they later announced that there would be an interview with the pipe major of the winning band. At which point there was a mass rebellion and quitting of the field. It would appear that that was one thing too much to ask.
It was only then that we learned the result: we were 13th overall, out of 15. (13th and 11th for piping, 15th for drumming, 6th for ensemble.) So we weren't even close to qualifying. Indeed, that result, coupled with that performance, begs the question, "why are we even bothering?"
And so it was a very depressing end to what had been a good day.
Anyway, there is now one more competition left, being in Edinburgh this weekend. That was a good day last year, and will hopefully be quite enjoyable this year, too - a nice relaxing day to end the season. At least, that's the hope.
#39: "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", by Louis de Bernières (a book from The List, and also this year's front-runner for Book of the Year)