It’s interesting to see the various reactions about the now well known compiling error that the PPBSO made with the Grade 4 Final competition at Maxville last Saturday. Fortunately, mistakes like these are very rare, and happen to even the best organizations, including the RSPBA and the 2003 Grade 1 result at the World Pipe Championships, no less.

Stuff happens. If stuff happens a lot, then there is cause for concern. If stuff like this happens rarely – and only then on a chaotic afternoon of rain-drenched nerves, electrifying competition (pun intended) and scoresheets that were like wet bogroll – then people should be forgiven.

Everything can be improved. That’s what we humans try to do. And things do improve. Lessons have been learned from this and other mistakes, apologies have been made, and everyone has I hope taken a collective deep breath. The correct result has been made, and affected bands I think have each moved on, looking forward to their next outing or season.

Given the lightning storm on the day that bands voluntarily played through, perhaps it’s a good time to put into perspective the true gravity of mistakes.


Nice attack.A month or so back the pipes|drums Poll asked readers about their preferences for extreme weather conditions at an outdoor contest. The condition that got the most favourable response – 37% – was “No rain, but thunder and lightning in the area.” This beat out “Very cold and rainy” (4%) and “Roasting heat and no shade anywhere” (36%).

I am still a bit miffed that piping and drumming competitors are perfectly happy risking their lives around lightning rather than putting up with cold. It’s all about competition.

And so it was at Maxville on Saturday when the thunderstorms that had been predicted for days finally happened. The place within a few minutes turned into a huge tempest, and some of the cracks of lightning that struck right overhead while I was judging the Grade 5 band competition were downright awesome and a tad insane.

But it was really only when the rain became too heavy, and not the life-risky lightning, that common sense finally prevailed and the competitions were halted. This after a vendor on the park reportedly was struck.

I must confess that while I was out on that wide-open field I was somewhat reassured to see about 50-feet in the air a metal cherry-picker that they use for tossing that big bag of hay in the heavy events. If lightning did strike, it would hit that thing and not my umbrella. I also couldn’t help but fantasize about the clichés they would say if we were hit: “Oh, but he went out doing what he loved.” Screw that. Cold comfort from pain, indeed.

Some people were comparing the weather to the 2007 World’s. Um, no. There’s a huge difference between soul-destroying incessant mist and life-destroying bolts of 100,000,000 volts.

Trying to persevere through that mess was theatre of the absurd. Bands came from long distances for the contest but, really, lightning and piping just should not mix.