Nothing wrong with a good old gala knees-up

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Respecting ancient customs or traditions is a good thing in modern society, but are they an excuse for a good drink?

It’s brilliant to see communities in Falkirk bringing back gala days in Grahamston, Denny and Bainsford, or Mariner’s Day in Camelon after none took place for up to 20 years.

Speaking to the people who organise these days for the benefit of their communities really gives you an insight into what they are all about.

It’s about giving children a day of fun, something to look forward to, new clothes for the day, making them feel special, money for the shows, giving them responsibility in the retinues and giving them the confidence to stand up in front of hundreds of people and making speeches.

Last week I was a guest of the Deacons Court for the Linlithgow Marches, which is a popular day out for many across the whole West Lothian, not just in town itself, and really taught me about the traditions of the day.

Men march in long robes and make speeches which people think is just a load of old pomp. But it’s not, it’s about keeping the heritage of communities alive.

There is a lot of alcohol consumed at these events, but as long as there’s no trouble, what’s the matter with that? You often find communities are able to police themselves when flashpoints arise though.

But these events also bring people together. Strangers shakes hands and say “Happy Marches Day” or “Happy Gala Day”, and it makes you smile and return the sentiment.

Families have barbecues and invite people into their homes for the day, put out food and drink for everyone to eat. So, to the people who make these events happen, I tip my hat to you – and my drink.