September 28, 2011

Tips for the World’s

Every year the World’s comes around and every year there are things I forget to remember. Like these:

  • The RSPBA runs like a Swiss watch. If the program says a band is to play at 10:57, almost without fail the band is brought on to the park at 10:57. It’s to the point where watching the RSPBA’s stewards is more amazing than watching the bands themselves. These guys are like the secret service, decked out in ear pieces, communicating across the park, the oil in the machine. It really is uncanny.
  • Best bands always win.The results are almost always right. Say what we will about ranking spreads, perceptions of conflict and other problems (and they are problems), but the right result is almost always delivered at the end of the day. When was the last time that someone had a major, major problem with the results at the World’s, especially the first prizes? It all comes out in the wash.
  • The best place to be is at the World’s. The live streaming on the BBC could ultimately become a case of the RSPBA cutting of its nose to spite its face, and for sheer listening pleasure there’s nothing better than watching the contest from your 7.1 surround sound 55-inch plasma system at home, but nothing beats actually being there. The atmosphere on the park is irreplaceable.
  • It’s still a closed shop. Everyone around Glasgow seems to be aware of the World’s going on, but still only pipers and drummers appear to actually go to the event. Taxi drivers and barmen and customs officers know the event is happening, but I have yet to happen upon someone not directly connected with a band or piping/drumming paying to attend the contest. I’m sure they’re there, but they’re as scarce as a band with brown brogues and balmorals.
  • You’re increasingly spoiled for choice. It gets more difficult every year to do everything that you want to do at Piping Live! and the World’s. Piping Live! now has three, even four things happening at the same time every hour of every day, leaving you strangely disappointed. The World’s has always been that way, but at least now with the BBC’s coverage you can reasonably skip the Grade 1 and have a listen to other excellent events, or soak up (or get soaked at) the beer tent.
  • Just in case, bring sunscreen. Yes, that’s right. Everyone brings rain gear, but this year the sun emerged in full-force for about an hour. And there’s nothing like the intensity of pure Scottish sun to get a burn. I got absolutely baked in the beer tent, as it were, in the unexpected sunshine. I looked like the burn-victim I was for two solid weeks.

I’ll keep these tips on hand for 2012 so that I’ll not forget to remember.


  1. Watching the live stream is a great experience, but based on the feedback I’ve gotten it’s only served to increase the interest and desire to go attend the World’s in person. I think we’ll possibly see more bands make the effort to take the trip now and be part of the spectacle.

  2. I have a Swiss watch. Smooth, and accurate! And I love Switzerland.

    I took sunscreen when we went over to Glasgow, and it was a good thing. It was hotter than blazes. But, I had an Inverness cape in my pipe case. You just never know there.

    Piping Live is awesome, and just seems to be getting better. How Glaswegians don’t know the Worlds are going on that week is a mystery. Right up there with Celtics fans.

  3. The Worlds (and ‘Worlds Week’) is undoubtedly the best-run pipe band event on the planet. The RSPBA cops a lot of stick for all manner of things, however it is not easy being the peak body of anything, much less the highly subjective, overtly political, and still amateur, world of pipe bands. It must be like herding cats, but they get the job done each year. I concur with the comment in the blog re results, with the exception of the odd glaring moment here and there (I suspect the departure of a certain political animal in Gr1 may have somewhat mitigated this now), the results are generally spot-on. The one thing they (I suspect the Glasgow City Council) seemingly continue to fall short on is a lack of efficiency with the hospitality aspects – beer tent (an eternity to get in and then get served), food vendors (queuing a long time for a dollop of caviar-priced lard is not ideal) and the old nemesis – the ‘porta-loos’..!!!! There are never enough and they are always ‘brimming’ by mid morning. Using a toilet at the worlds is as close to a Third World experience as many people would come. But like I said, that is probably a Council matter.



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