If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I spend a fair amount of time on the boards as a solo competitor. Solo competitions are something I really enjoy, and I plan to continue them for the foreseeable future.
Over the years, I’ve heard stories of things that happen to people while they’re competing. In almost all cases, they all the result of members of general public who don’t understand how piping contests work. They’re so excited to see someone playing pipes that they don’t notice the person sitting at the table writing on a clipboard. I’ve heard of people who pose with competing pipers for a photo, or try to talk to the player or the judge.
I have witnessed people walk between the piper and the judge, games staff try to move the table or canopy while the competitor is playing, and a sheep dog run through the middle of band’s competition circle. In one of my own competitions, a games volunteer drove a golf cart up and parked it at one end of my marching area, and the driver then tried to engage the judge in conversation. He looked insulted when the judge yelled at him to go away.
This weekend I came face to face with a photographer while I was competing. The tent was near the entrance to the grounds, maybe 50 feet off the path coming in from the parking lot. The guy was walking in as I started my hornpipe and jig, and I saw his face change when he realized “Hey, there’s someone playing bagpipes!” He walked over and took some photos of me while standing in various places: behind the judge, next to the judge, in front of the table, and between me and the judge. I did a nifty sidestep move to maintain eye contact with the judge.
I did make a mistake in my tune (it was the jig by that time), but it wasn’t because of the photographer. It was far more likely that because I hadn’t played that particular tune for a month. (Why would I be playing a tune in competition that I hadn’t played for a month? I said that I enjoy competing, not that I was always smart about it.)
I’ve been looking for any of the photos, but haven’t managed to find them. I don’t know what paper or organization the guy worked for, but if you happen to see a photo of a very cold-looking piper who looks like me and is wearing a raincape, please let me know.