Trailing Drones
August 23, 2016

Trailing Drones: post-World’s crash n burn

By Harry Tung

Well. That’ll be that. Harry enjoyed another two days ‘trolling The Green, ducking for shelter on Friday, duck the root word. After a summer of fun and frolics, concluding with the big week in Gleska, it’s a comedown for me. I’m only human. Or am I? It’s been a while and there’s much to catch you up on. Remember, this stuff is satire, not saltire, but, as they say, many’s a true word . . . so let’s see what’s in the old Harry malebag.

Wow. What an event. The World Pipe Band Championships continue to astonish even me. Runs like clockwork. The stewards are amazing at striking a balance of tough discipline and warm ease. They know bands are on edge and they get the tone just right. Special credit has to go to the really tall guy who looks like he’d crush you like so much Ronnie Lawrie jelly, but he’s always got a smile and a quip for pipe-majors as they approach the trigger. I could go on, but let me also talk about a few other items.

One day we’ll look back on all this and laugh. Or cry. Isn’t it time that the panel of judges in the top grades was expanded? Four people deciding the fate of these huge and hugely expensive bands is offering too much power, and risks one judge derailing a title by his/her one opinion. Inveraray & District was denied the Wold Championship mainly because of one slightly out-of-kilter piping placing. Yes, that can be said of most results, and the “what if?” scenarios are unending. But it’s time to take after the Breton Bagad Championships and have 10 or 15 judges. This mitigates the risk of rogue judging and lessens the power of each judge. And, while we’re at it, throw out the high and low scores from each of the three sections of judges. There’s way too much riding on these events to put it in the pens of single people.

I seem to recall one Ian Duncan allegedly being threatened with suspension from the RSPBA judging panel for competing with a Grade 6B band that he was teaching in Germany. This was strictly against the association’s rules. When Duncan got wind that he was going to be disciplined, he resigned in protest. Sad situation, that, with yet another Grade 1 leader being alienated from the organization. Anyway, that’s one standard applied. Now for the other: the current, actively competing Leading-Drummer of Grade 2 Lomond & Clyde judged at Bridge of Allan this year. Not only did he adjudicate, but he judged Grade 2. Now, I’m not saying that I condone or condemn either side, and I am sure that the guy is a fine and upstanding fellow who I’d imagine simply judged what he was assigned to, but double-standards like these happen too often at UK events.

They don’t, you say? Well, then how about the recently implemented rule that family should not judge family? Call it what it is: The Gordon Parkes rule, which has seen the drumming Parkes no longer assessing his brother, Pipe-Major Richard Parkes‘s band, Field Marshal Montgomery. Anyone who knows either of the Parkes know that they are some of the finest and most forthright, respected peeps out there. Not about them or their integrity. But wait! What is this now? We have RSPBA other adjudicators judging their close relatives playing in bands at the World’s. Ach, well, we all know those bands don’t really need to qualify, so it doesn’t matter, right? Well, no. It matters to many. A lot. There are other examples. Again, the point is not if you agree or disagree with the no family judging rule, but selectively applying it is ridiculous. Again, this is not about the judges and their integrity or honesty, it is about associations following their own rules and policies. You’re out of order! This whole courtroom is out of order!

Still not convinced? Then there’s the clampdown on media making videos of competing bands or the march past or the Grade 1 announcement. Strictly forbidden. In fact, an official walked up and down the pool of media at the prize-giving like a prison guard, reminding press photographers that they’d better not be taking any video . . . or else. (Or else what?!) So that’s standard one. And standard two is turning a blind-eye to the hundreds of social media (media being the operative word) videographers capturing performances and celebrations to post to their collective . . .



  1. well written and very witty!

    I think at this point it has been proven (to me anyway) the Friday is unnecessary in grade 1.
    So all the buses, bands getting up, geared up, soaking instruments, for this Friday qualifier to eliminate just 9 bands from the final. And then put a 3 hour break between MSR & Medley on Saturday? I just don’t see the logic.



Forgotten Password?