St. Laurence O’Toole’s unfortunate non-entry-entry to the Scottish Championships reminded me how slowly things can change in the pipe band world. In an age of instant response and confirmation, bands and pipers and drummers still have to enter for most events by old-fashioned stamp-post-and-prayer, and hope that nothing goes wrong along the way. Entry fees are the main reason, since few associations have any kind of instant payment system set up.
I once entered for the Fergus Games, or something, back in the 1980s and planned to make the 15-hour drive to the event. I hadn’t received any notice of my entry, so I decided to call the PPBSO president, the late George Forgan, who told me that there had been a Canadian mail strike and my entry was not received in time. No questions, please; I wasn’t allowed to play, and that was that. My fault for not calling before the deadline to confirm. And so it goes.
Pipe band associations and contests need to have entry rules. But it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. St. Laurence O’Toole obviously puts its heart and soul into what they do, and wouldn’t for an instant be trying to fudge the system. Everyone – association, judges, their competition, punters – wants them to compete. In cases like that, it perhaps makes sense to take a band at its word and quietly give them a call to make sure there wasn’t an oversight or lost mail or whatever.
The higher the standard, the sweeter the victory, and I’m sure SLOT’s competition would all want them to compete at the Scottish. Wouldn’t they?