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Friday, 31 October 2014

Proud rulers of no man’s land

LOUIS Pelosi sent us an email after he’d been reading one of the Rough Guide series, this particular one being Rough Guide to the World’s Best Festivals.

In the European section the first type of festival is the Common Riding.

Over six pages on this subject the history of the Border Common Ridings is told and the celebrations mentioned are at Hawick, Selkirk, Jedburgh, Galashiels, Duns, West Linton and Melrose. No mention of Langholm’s great day.

Louis suspects that, since he couldn’t find any information and neither could I, on the author of this section on Common Ridings, the information must have been gleaned from a Hawick resident because the article concentrated mainly on Hawick.

I found, from the website for this edition of Rough Guide, exactly what Louis had mentioned.

One quotation from the book is “Selkirk Common Riding must be one of the world’s most emotional events” and another gauged Hawick Common Riding to be “one of the best parties in the world”.

I, and many other Langholmites, feel Louis’ frustrations when we read articles like this.

As I read his email, I remembered I’d recorded from the TV several months ago a programme in a series called Scotland on Film and this particular one which appealed to me was on the Borders and south-west Scotland.

I hadn’t watched it so now was the time.

Surely, Langholm was bound to get a mention, lying as it does on the edge of both these regions. We’re a Borders town at heart but a Dumfries and Galloway one geographically.

Was I going to feel the same annoyance as Louis had felt? You’ve probably anticipated the answer.

The programme looked at Scottish life over the last century. Farming was discussed first. No mention of our valleys. The focus then turned on the mills, concentrating, of course, on Hawick and mentioning the mills in Peebles, Galashiels, Selkirk, Jedburgh and Innerleithen.

Archie Smail of Selkirk, John Hope, Nan Douglas and, of course, Nan Lyall of Hawick were all heard talking of their experiences in the mills.

When the festivals were shown, what did we see?

The Guid Nychburris one from Dumfries and from the Borders we heard all about Selkirk and Hawick Common Ridings. And the rugby-playing towns featured? Melrose and Hawick.

So, Louis, don’t be surprised when Langholm fails to be chosen either as a Borders town or a Dumfries and Galloway one. We’ve long learned to live with the fact that we’re in no man’s land.

Nan Lyall was heard to comment: “Scotland begins at the border. We’re all Scots and we’re sometimes forgotten.”

Well, you weren’t forgotten by the makers of that programme. Try living in Langholm.

However, when all is said and done, we know what a great town we live in and what a rich heritage we have to celebrate. Hundreds come, many from Hawick, to help us celebrate our past.

By the way, Louis, Pelosi’s may have changed it name to Corner Café but to my generation it will always be Pelosi’s and Pelosi’s ice cream.

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