The Brass Band Contest (for the Renfrew Burgh Band) With a tug of the jackets and shuffling of chairs and adjustments to stands that are perfectly placed, the baton is raised with a stretch and a flick and like greyhounds in traps they are off up and running, for the prize of perfection, for them, just this once! Pony-tailed blondes and greybeards with paunches,lawyers and labourers, clerks and accountants, mothers and carers, workers and students,all shapes and sizes, when braided and cuffedthey’re only the sound they make with their band. Muted trombones wail like trains on the prairies, feverish cornets, warm flügel and horns rise above huge silver basses booming like liners. They whisper like mist when it says pianissimo, blast triple sforzando for storming finales! The applause is for how they arrived here today from scout huts and band halls on nights after work. With stars as a backdrop on stage in the town hallthe glint and the shine of colourful stage lights make dazzling reflections on their moment of fame. When it’s over they judge – so how did they all do? The shame of split notes and poor entries forgotten they head to the bar where they all let their hair down. Not caring for prizes and medals or cups, just that their own brilliant band will march on for ever.