Trailing Drones
August 23, 2016

Trailing Drones: post-World’s crash n burn

hundreds of thousands of followers. Harry isn’t passing judgment on anything but the wrongness of the double-standards.

And let’s talk about the World’s prize-giving / march-past / snore-fest. Good. Holy. God. Incredible. The sun had just about gone down at 8:30 pm when the final award was announced. This after all manner of drum-majors and grades. Six prizes in each category. Every recipient has to come down to get their trophy and photee, often traversing a half-kilometre of drunken pipers and drummers before reaching the stage. Giant gaps of dead time, while bored and increasingly agitated musicians grind their teeth. C’mon. Streamline this affair. Dispense with the endless river of individual bands doing the march past. Learn how to construct flights of massed bands and bring them on in four or five groups. Or it seems to me that the straightforward announcement on the Friday of the Grade 1 qualifying bands works well. Just make the announcement for the BBC cameras, have only the first-prize winners come up to get their award. Move on. That alone would shave an hour off the ceremony. Get the poor tired and hungry kiddies home by 8!

And don’t get me started about the rain on Friday. Here we are again, the greatest pipe bands on earth competing for a spot in the greatest competition on earth. What on earth? Yeah, let’s soak them with unrelenting rain and handicap them by wreaking havoc on their fickle instruments. I’ll say it again: put the Grade 1 contest indoors. Even the playing field as much as possible by at least equalizing the conditions. Stop the ignominious Glasgow Green galumphing about in soggy ghillie brogues and let’s get real about this so-called World Championship. “Luck of the draw” – that’ll be right!

That’s enough on that. To be sure, the World’s and the RSPBA do good and smart things, like keeping the results of the qualifier competitions confidential until after the Saturday is done and dusted. Their intentions are good. But these double standards and inequities are unacceptable and should be corrected. Why do they continue to do 95% of things right, but then screw up the simple stuff – by not following their own rules and policies and interpreting laws seemingly to suit themselves?

And I hear there was a PPBSO judge who put a drum section back in his rankings. Why? Apparently because the lower-grade band had players with experience in Grade 1. One would normally think this is a good thing. But not this time. The judge seemed to invent a wrongheaded rule that somehow if you are a lower-grade band and have good players then you’re not allowed to win. That’s some dang complex thinking, right there.

And one last thing. The most successful pipe band competition drummer in history retires, and there is zero acknowledgement by the association at Jim Kilpatrick‘s final competition? WTF?! I mean, nothing? Not a word? I really hope that they make this right. At least his band, the Spirit of Scotland, marched on last at the march past and had the class to put the drummers and Kilpatrick at the front of the band, with what was left of the crowd and many of the bands applauding in appreciation. A word to associations: at times like these, be sure to drop petty past grievances and look at the big picture and do the right thing and honour those who deserve and have earned it.

So, what’s your scoop? If it’s in jest, just say it. That’s my motto. Send your dirt along to me and I’ll keep your name out of it. Going to dry out now.



  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.



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