Members Slow Air and 6/8 March competition
There is nothing quite like a wee members competition to prompt a few to dust off the cobwebs and put in an extra hour of practice. Some ‘weel kent’ faces showed up but were they fully paid up members? One for the stewards to assess while taking the obligatory doping samples. Yes there were quite a few dopes there, the 3 judges leading the way, but more of that later.
The competition was organised by the Hon President Colin MacLellan, who briefed the ensemble and the judges regarding the unique (to piping) scoring system. He went through it twice for the benefit of those from Fife. Aw right neebs.
In short the judges were issued with scoring cards that had to be displayed immediately after the competitor had played and left the room. Points were to be deducted for excessive tuning, those who did not buy the judges a drink and those who were T.C.T.H.B.s.
With an array of top prizes on display that included tickets to the John Maclellan Memorial dinner, the new JM book and CDs, Eagles bag covers, cords, cufflinks and a fair amount of plonk, the gloves were off.
The 3 judges for the evening, picked for their inability to understand what was actually going on were, Davy Drysdale, Pete Toole and Hamish Anderson. Pete gave us a quick scoring demonstration and the signs were not good.
Peter McCalister was up first and gave us Oft in the Stilly Night and Jean Mauchline. An excellent run was not reflected in the judges scoring who had already dropped most of the cards on the floor. Peter was followed by the first guest player from Heriot’s school, Brodie Watson-Massey who played a first class Megan’s Lullaby and Glendaruel Highlanders.
Jenny Hazzard was up next but her cards were already marked, certainly by one judge who clearly hasn’t fallen for the Canadian charm. Your secret is safe Davy. Jenny gave us The Easter Townships and Cameron MacFadyen. Next up was Greig ‘Dyson’ Canning, from Fife. Who I hear you ask? Yes fresh from his British Championship win with Inveraray and District to the Eagles to try and beat the kids for a wee prize.
Greig started with Hector the Hero and one would have thought the judges would have slammed him for his audacious sliding note towards the end but they were clearly having a nap. Dyson finished his run with The Dundee City Police Pipe band.
Next for shaving was Douglas Gardiner who was on a different pipe with RAF Halton stamped on the cover. Hopefully not a theft? DG gave us The Highland Cradle Song and P/M Sam Scott. Jim Cooper was up next and gave us one of the best performances of the night playing The Bells of Dunblane and Rabs Wedding. Erratic scoring/thinking from the 3 wise-not so- men cost him dear.
Fergus Perks gave us Oh My Dearest Dear and the classic Kenneth J MacLeod. Another fine performance, on a set of Tim Gellaitry pipes that were top notch. Alan Harper was next and played Cailin Mo Ruinsa, made famous by the singer Calum Kennedy and The 10th HLI crossing the Rhine.
Our second guest piper from Heriots school, Chris Happs, was the post pie piper, a title that he seemed somewhat bemused by. On an excellent pipe he gave us Scots Ballad and Angus MacKinnon. Chris is a member of the NYPB and is one for the future. In full No1 regalia having come straight from work, Craig Martin gave us Long Shall I return and Leaving Post Askaig.
We were on the home straight and the penultimate player of the night was Iain Dewar. He started with The Sleeping Tune. It must have had an effect on him as he nodded off during his 6/8, P/M Donald MacLean of Lewis. However, his good friend was on the panel, so you would have thought he might catch a break? Think again. Ankles done. The final player of the night was Gordon Hislop who played the slow air Ruth Grant, followed by the 6/8 Over the Chindwin, composed in 1944 by P/M Evan MacRae of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. The Chindwin is a river in Burma and was a major barrier in WWII for the Japanese trying to invade India and for the Allied forces trying to reoccupy Burma.
Once the Hon President had totted up the scores the results were announced as follows.
Cunningly the judges had worked out the no alcohol could be given to children so they were waiting in the wings to collect their unexpected bonus. Not so daft after all.
What a great night and all participants are to be congratulated for taking the competition in good spirit and heart. Thanks to Colin for all his efforts in organizing it and to our erstwhile judges who were last seen staggering up Haymarket singing Sunshine On Leith.