AS a child, the last weekend in June was always my favourite of the summer. That's when the streets of the former mining village in West Lothian where my grandparents lived came alive with music, merriment and, as the day wore on, occasionally mayhem.

It has been many years since I last attended Blackridge Gala Day, yet I've found myself thinking about it a lot lately. Perhaps with all of the usual white noise of life stripped away, something deep-rooted in my memories has stirred and bubbled to the surface.

I was less than a year old at my first gala day in 1978. While I don't remember it, I know from photographs that my gran pulled out all the stops. The outside of her house and garden was beautifully adorned with colourful bunting and decorations.

This was a tradition that continued throughout my childhood. As I got older, I would excitedly jump from our old Datsun and go tearing in through the front gate, imagining the impressed faces of the judges as they scored the best-dressed house competition.

The day itself followed a set routine. The parade was first, and without fail I would be cajoling everyone to make haste down the steep hill from my gran and grandpa's house to the main street, my heart thudding in my chest with fear we might miss it.

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I could already hear the skirl of bagpipes and thump of a bass drum at the far end of the village. I'd listen as they steadily grew closer, craning my neck to catch a glimpse of the first float.

My gran saved up coppers all year in an old Epsom salt jar, which gave them a dusty sheen that felt gritty and sometimes sticky as I grabbed a handful to throw into the passing collection buckets

After the parade, came the park. There would be stalls and races. This was also where you would collect the hallowed gala day box containing a gluttony of treats: a cold pie or sausage roll, a Mars bar, crisps, an iced cake and a plastic carton of juice.

I'd be allowed to eat one thing because a banquet awaited back at the house, my gran serving up dish after dish, just like she had when in service at a big house in Glasgow many years before.

Usually by then the gala day committee would have been round to do the judging and a small piece of card would be proudly taped to the living room window, denoting a placing in the contest for best-dressed house. She even won one year.

Rounding off the day was a visit to the shows, where we would eat candy floss, hook a duck, ride the carousel, tear around on the dodgems and take a spin on the waltzers until I was either feeling sick or had run out of pocket money.

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There are no gala days this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, although I hope that, like me, in villages and towns across Scotland, there are others who are fondly reminiscing.

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