Edinburgh in August is of course alive with artists both from the Tattoo and from the Edinburgh
festival, but one must not certainly as a bandsman ignore Glasgow in August.
The main event is the World Pipe Band Championship, which takes place on Glasgow Green every
year and features over 200 pipe bands from across the globe competing in 4 grades. There is
also the World Piping Festival, which takes place in the week preceding the championships. This
event is a mixture of concerts, recitals and lectures by Pipe Bands, Pipers and Drummers of repute.
We of course had to go and the Tattoo had no problem that we went as long as we returned in time
for the twin performances that evening (it was a Saturday). The problem we encountered was getting there.
The Tattoo had as a perk previously laid on a bus for our use for a day trip and we had chosen to go
to Stirling (see Day Trip) so it looked like we had to catch a train, not a popular option. It
was here that we experienced the charity of the Irish Guards with who we had developed a kind
of kinship and through their Pipe Corporal Robbie Little (dragonslayer, soldier of fortune -
so read his business card).
Robbie had lived in Primrose near Germiston for a few years and
is of an amiable disposition and likes a drink or two so he fitted in with our lot very easily.
The Irish Guards were also entitled to a bus and Robbie had found out that their band with a
few exceptions (including himself) had no interest in going to the worlds and that because of
this we could share their bus.
The bus arrived very early at Redford and being the keen tourists that we are we were
waiting. We got on board and the bus went round to Dreghorn barracks (The Royal Scots) where
the Irish Guards were staying to pick up Robbie and his mates. It being a Saturday morning
meant that the lads had been partying on the evening before so we had to wait a while for them
to rouse themselves. Robbie never one to not make a significant entrance was a sight for sore eyes
when he appeared Saffron kilted and looking quite the Irish country gent minus the valet and hounds.
Onto the bus he came and took to entertaining us the entire way to Glasgow by hijacking the
tannoy system on the bus and pointing out…."ahn da left ladies and gents is da famous….." and
"ahn da rooit you can see da….". This interspersed with Irish traditional songs (some of
dubious content) we bounced into Glasgow.
The driver of the bus was either English or from Edinburgh because familiar to Glasgow
he wasn't. We did a half hour tour of Glasgow looking for the green with some of our members,
having been there before and passingly familiar with Glasgow, actually trying to tell the fellah
where it was and Robbie making jokes about the driver's sense of direction.
It was during this loss of sense of direction that the SA Irish managed to participate
in two parades that we hadn't planned on. Both of these were so called "Orange" parades
by Fife and Drum bands which is a feature of the Glasgow summer and also quite controversial
if you are of the Catholic religion - a few of our members are, so at some level they
hold the dubious honour of being counted amongst the few Catholics who have taken part in an "Orange March".
Finally we found Glasgow Green and what an event its become. Many of our number had over
the years been to this event before and whilst it was always quite large it had never been
quite this big. The walk from the coach park to the event was considerable and it began raining
almost immediately - a feature of this event without which one wouldn't achieve the atmosphere of
a true Scottish outdoor event.
It was fantastic! Pipe Bands everywhere including interesting ones from places like Spain, France
and Pakistan. The Pietermaritzburg Caledonian Pipe Band from SA were also there and we were able
to lend our support. We also managed to splurge on piping paraphernalia and many a pound was spent
certainly by the older set (you know who you are) in the various beer tents dotted around the event.
The grade one arena and the competition that takes place there is the highlight of the day. The
only problem is that by virtue of its popularity its swamped by the audience, thankfully however
the sound carries and we were able to still enjoy the sounds of the worlds best competing for the ultimate prize.
All good things must end and before long we were once again on our bus and heading back to Edinburgh
and an evenings work.