Last Thursday night. I drive all the way from Bracknell into Westminster. Jock takes the train all the way from the Essex coast into Westminster. Ross takes the train all the way from Cambridgeshire into Westminster. We three meet up outside the HQ of the London Scottish Regiment in Horseferry road and attempt an entrance. Usually if we shout "Lowland and Border Pipers" into the intercom we are allowed in, for this is where we meet most months to get together and play our wee pipes. Just a few of us, because we smallpipers are a rare breed in the South.
A man with a TV camera on his shoulder says "You won't get in there tonight" and before we can ask why, from behind my left shoulder David Milliband, THE David Milliband brushes past me, walks up the steps and is immediately admitted. "Question Time" explains the cameraman. "In here tonight. We've got the whole building."
Jock is not a happy bunny. "But we've come all this way. Taken us hours to get here. We always come here. Every month". "Not tonight you don't" says the man.
We three look at each other in despair. Nobody thought to let us know. Now here we are in London with armfuls of pipes and books and nowhere to play. We wander off in search of a park bench. Soon we come across a nice empty square in front of Westminster Cathedral, but it's all fenced off and there are security guards. They eye us suspiciously, for we are three dodgy looking characters carrying strange long wooden cases. Aah. I realise they think we might be here to murder the pope tomorrow. We slink off over the road and stumble into a busy pub where by some miracle we find a nice table in a corner and get some beers in.
A nice young lady asks what's in our cases and we tell her. "Ooh, play us something then." Ross obliges with a couple of tunes, but his smallpipes are no match for the music on the pub PA. Jock senses an opportunity and pulls out his big border pipes. They'll hear them alright. The lady asks the barman to turn off the jukebox for a minute while we all play a couple of tunes from the borders. Apparently they don't like border music in Victoria pubs, as the jukebox came back on pretty sharpish.
The lady gives each of us a kiss on the cheek and we drink up and go home.
Not yer normal Thursday night.