And now, the end is near.
The last competition of the season was at Innerleithen yesterday. It was a good day, mostly, though the competition itself didn't go as well as might be hoped.
Actually, it's worth noting here that there's a classic mistake that the band always makes. We know that if we play too long in the preparation, our drones get wet and start to go wrong. And so every time we say to ourselves that we're not going to play too much before going on. And then, every single time, we play too much before going on, our drones get wet, and that wrecks the sound.
The day itself was pretty good - it looked like rain, and yet we managed to avoid it. We tuned up, we went on, and we played. The performance was... okay. Not great, and the other band that were up for Champion-of-Champions were markedly better, but it was okay. Then, a bit later, we tuned up and played in the grade above, which was also okay. (That said, both times our Pipe Major, who wasn't playing for health reasons, had a real go at the pipers after the competition. Which I thought was both a little unfair and also wasn't terribly helpful. But it's not my problem any longer.)
And then we came to the march past, the prize-giving, and the street parade. And for all of these, in honour of it being my last competition, our Pipe Sergeant asked me to take the lead, which was very nice of him I thought.
In the event, I had to go collect three prizes - we won the Marching & Discipline prize (not sure how, really), came second in Grade 4B (2nd for piping, 5th for drumming, out of 5), and fourth in the Grade 4A (4th for piping, 3rd for drumming, out of 5). We missed out on Champion-of-Champions, which was not unexpected - it went to Davidson Mains & District, who also won the Grade 4B contest. The truth is that the result wasn't particularly close - although we were second to their first, we were a very distinct second to their clear first.
And that was that - a decent day to end a hard season, and a fitting end to my competition career. And now there is just the AGM, and I'm out. Which is quite a thing.