Avast ye lubbers - the pirates (and princesses) are back

Blast from the past - Captain Hook (fully recovered from that unpleasant business involving a crocodile) was a star turn at one of the town's previous Pirates Parades.
Blast from the past - Captain Hook (fully recovered from that unpleasant business involving a crocodile) was a star turn at one of the town's previous Pirates Parades.

Falkirk’s annual Pirates and Princesses fun day returns to the town centre on Saturday, along with a motley crew of salty seadogs and bold buccaneers.

Raising the tone of proceedings will be beautifully turned-out princesses too, and there will be music, face-painting, a treasure hunt and (leaving the bandstand at 3.30pm), a spectacular parade.

It’s possibly one of the few events in Scotland were attendees are urged to “bring flags and banners!” - which in practical piratical terms surely refers to the notorious skull and crossbones device known️ whimsically as the Jolly Roger (pirates were famous for their sense of humour).

You don’t have to be a child to dress up as a pirate - it’s the one day in the year when you can explore your inner Blackbeard without risking some very odd looks.

And you don’t have to be a boy to be a pirate either, as (historical note) piracy in the days of Captain Kidd was a socially inclusive and equal rights profession.

Anne Bonny was possibly the most famous female pirate, but there were many more.

For example the Greek corsair Bouboulina, whose ships plied the waters of the Mediterranean, was a ferocious character who became a hero of the Greek war of independence.

Whether you are a pirate or a princess your ensemble could also win you the coveted Best Costume prize.

Princesses as well as pirates are also welcome to take part in one of the special treasure hunts around the town centre to be staged at 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm.

Note that children must be accompanied by an adult aged over 16.

While digging out your old pirate banner, meanwhile, have you ever wondered how it came to be known as the Jolly Roger?

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is that it was down to French pirates.

Their banner was the red flag of danger, usually signalling “no quarter” once hoisted - and it was given the sardonic nickname Jolie Rouge (“the bonny red”).

British pirates appropriated the name for their own flag, the skull and crossbones, and punned the name as Jolly Roger.

Not many people know that.