The 28th of November 2009 was the day that the bar was raised for the annual St Andrews Day Rally in Edinburgh. Bigger, better, busier and so well organised that it looked like a military operation!!
We gathered at the Castle Esplanade in preparation for our march down the Royal Mile and although it was bitterly cold the night was clear and a floodlit Edinburgh castle provided the perfect backdrop as we were serenaded by the strains of the Stockbridge Pipe Band warming up before leading us down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament.
The march itself proved once again very popular with tourists and locals joining the march as we went by. If you’ve never came to this event then you should mark it down in your calendar for next year as there’s something very special about marching down our capitals most famous street following in so many of our forefathers footsteps.
On arrival at the Parliament it was my job to welcome everyone to the rally and get proceedings underway, ably assisted by the wonderful Ted Christopher and our nation’s principle authority on Wallace, David R Ross. Ted got us all in the mood with a song and soon had us all singing and clapping along, great for heating the hands up. Next we had David telling us all about St Andrew, the Saltire and what it all means to him and us as a nation.
David has been trying to establish some way of paying some homage to our flag, not an oath of allegiance or anything like that, more some words from the heart of what it feels like to be Scottish and live under the shelter of the Saltire, what he came away with was stunning in its simplicity:
" I stand before this flag, the white Saltire of St Andrew in the blue summer's sky.
It represents the soil from which I sprang, and to which I must one day return.
It represents Scotland.
As it was, as it is, as it always will be."
After David finished the applause let him know that he echoed the thoughts of everyone there!! Ted then closed the proceedings with a wonderful rendition of “Flower of Scotland” on finishing he was mobbed by a crowd of Muslim lassies who all wanted a photograph with the great man.
We had one more wee surprise in store because way up on the crag we had some able bodied men with fireworks and boy did the lads do us proud!! Right at the end a Saltire appeared in the cold misty sky, you could see it very clearly, they’d actually got hold of a very powerful boat lamp and shone it behind the Saltire, the effect was stunning, what a great way to finish the Rally!!
But wait there’s more!! We had an evening event held at the Three Sisters in Cowgate and what a perfect way to finish our day in Edinburgh. We had three performers on the bill, Ted (better than Elvis) Christopher, Fiery Jack and Albannach. Now I’m no expert but I think you’d be hard pushed to find a better line up anywhere!! Ted was his usual brilliant self playing a couple of sets as did Fiery Jack and Albannach. Both bands were parading new members but you wouldn’t have known. You couldn’t even see the joins. Three bands playing out of their skins for their love of performing and their love of all things Scottish!!
It’s always a pleasure to be among like minded people, doing what we do best, but so many people came up to me throughout the day and night telling me how much they were enjoying themselves and how they didn’t know things like this existed. They do now and they’re spreading the word, next year’s going to be even better. Alba Gu Brath!!
By George Boyle