Wednesday, 31 August 2011

King Billy And The Lonach Highland Games

There are some sights and sounds which make the average person shiver and tingle. The pips and drums are my personal favourite. Mix that with a seven mile march of Forbes and Wallace clansmen and it gets even more emotive.

That is what happens at the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games in Strathdon. It is one of the great tourist sights. It is a friendly games with the usual great spectacles like tossing the caber, the tug o'war and the sword dancing.

But there is another attraction. The worshiping of King Billy - Billy Connolly, who lives at nearby Candacraig     and is a big supporter of the games. He is quite literally mobbed by adoring spectators, all keen to get his autograph or just shake his hand. Yet it is all very ordered. No crush or rush, just very peaceful. Billy reciprocates the love and affection, taking his time to walk through the crowds, stopping to talk or shake hands with many.

One parent hoisted his child onto his shoulders so that he could catch Billy's attention when he was sitting in the Grandstand. Unbothered by the adulation, he signed the little boy's programme. If only other celebrities were so congenial as the Big Yin.

The arena is filled with colour and noise as the clansmen march in. They control the fact that the numerous dram stops have altered their co-ordination. The marching was a little out of step, the pikes were a little lower than they were at the start of the day and the faces were redder.

But, no worries. If anyone were to fall over, there was emergency provision in the form of a pony and trap following along behind, ready to pick up any stragglers or passed out folk. All is perfection.

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