Published: July 31, 2012

Piper’s roulette and a bit of razzmatazz in the Fife highlands

underway, when the organizer asked the judges, “Is there anything you need? Coffee? Some water?” They replied, “No. A table.” Indeed, there was Tom Speirs sitting in a little tent behind a platform, with his books and notepad on his lap, and no table. This was soon remedied, and proceedings began with the junior pipers playing piobaireachd on one platform and light music on the other (the third becoming redundant), and the senior events to follow. The father of one of the pipers kindly offered his services as a piping steward and admirably kept both platforms running smoothly.

He may have regretted it later – on identifying several clashes between piobaireachd and light music timings and being unable to find someone who was due to be on shortly, I did hear him say, “I didn’t know how bloody awkward you people can be.”

I thought at one point the smooth progress that had been achieved was in danger when I was told that the order of play in the piobaireachd was becoming a bit random and whoever turned up ready could just play. I asked why, when it had taken about 20 minutes to do a draw and it was all written down and quite clear. The response was, “Oh, the draw? Aye, well, they lost it.” Amusing though that was, I think it turned out to be untrue, and proceedings resumed in an organized fashion through to the end of the afternoon.

Back to the roulette-style luck, late on in the afternoon the heavens opened and the rain crashed down with impressive force. A few people had to suffer the indignity of playing in a monsoon while knowing that others had the benefit of pleasant sunshine earlier in the day. In particular, when Alan Russell came to play, the rain was so heavy the judges had to scrunch their way to the back of their little tent to avoid the bouncing, splashing rain soaking them and their piobaireachd books, while poor Alan had to negotiate his way through “The Black Wedder’s White Tail” without the benefit of any such protection. With perfect timing, almost immediately on completion of his tune, the rain eased and the sun came back out. That’s the games for you.

The piping events finished, the prizes were duly awarded, the welly-chucking competition was concluded (really) and the rain returned. Everyone ran for the cover of their cars and another day at the games came to an end; another good weekend of music and laughs, with plenty more to come. That’s it for the Fife games for 2012, and next week, if it isn’t completely submerged, we’ll be off to Argyll. I can’t wait.

Jenny Hazzard has been known to chuck the occasional welly when she’s not competing at the highest levels of solo piping. Among her many awards is the Northern Meeting Silver Medal at the Northern Meeting. A native of Toronto, she lives in Edinburgh and works in environmental geological engineering.

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