I recently had my first live competition experience... and it was a lesson in being prepared!
I heeded some wise advice to make sure to get there early. I had just made the little-more-than-an-hour drive to the fairgrounds and was looking for two things.
One was where the PPBSO tent was to let them know I was there, and the other was a coffee from the vendors there to relax a bit while getting ready for my first ever Grade 5 competition on the full pipes (and in full highland dress)!
We parked the truck as directed by the very organized organizers, which turned out to be on the other side of the field from where I would be headed. Now for the adventure...
On my way across the field, I felt something flopping around on my ghillie brogues... I looked down and to my horror, the leather sole of my shoe was separating from the upper part of the shoe! By the time I reached the vendors (also close to the PPBSO tent) on the other side the sole had completely come off.
Slightly panic stricken, I started asking any and all vendors if anyone had glue or tape or anything to do a quick repair. It was an hour before my time to compete (again, it was my first time ever so I didn't know what to expect) and I didn't know how much time I would need for everything I needed to do before I went on.
One person had some tape and we tried a fix that was hidden as best as possible but didn't hold very well. So another vendor said he had some duct tape (the silver kind – he didn't have any black) and I did my best to tape the sole back on while trying to not go over the top of the shoe with the intent of retaining at least a portion of the original look.
After somewhat fixing my shoe, I looked at the time (and at that point I was really glad that I arrived early) and spotted that it was half an hour before the competition started.
"Good", I thought, "There's still time to grab a quick coffee and get over to the society tent and get ready!"
I put the cup on a railing to gather my stuff up and go... and watched helplessly as my cup fell down and poured out all of the contents on the ground.
I decided to forget the coffee and get to the tent anyway.
After that, things went pretty much ok, other than walking very carefully and hoping that my shoe stayed together for the next hour or so until I could get back to the truck and change my footwear. Luckily, it held and I was able to find a spot close to where I was to compete to warm up the pipes and get the drones tuned.
Thanks to the high quality instruction and performance advice from various sources on the Dojo, my pipes sounded fine both before and during the performance! My playing however, could have been a little bit better, as the morning's events didn't do much for calming my nerves. I will note that for future performances and try to do better the next time!
Going back to my truck after my time in front of the judge (who encouraged me greatly when he told me that he played the pipes left-handed too) caused me to miss out on watching another fine "Dojoer" who was in attendance. The kids wanted to play and the rest of the day was spent enjoying the games.
I placed 4th out of 7 – so not bad for the first time and considering my adventures.
The moral of this story – remember to always show up early and always be prepared for anything to happen at a highland games!