Saturday, 8 June 2013

Gala Day!

Gala Days have been running for over a hundred years.  It may well be some have origins way back in the mists of time.  That Blackburn one originated in 1911 on the one day a year the local miners had off!  There was a lot of Shale dug at the time, when crushed the oil was used in lamps.  It may well be 'Fracking' might yet make use of the resources still underground in that part of Scotland.  Gala Days are very popular in Scotland and are found in many other parts of the world.  There are no miners around this part of the world yet a Gala Day is held every year.  Parading through the streets in days past was part of small towns and villages 'community' spirit.  'Community' a word much abused these days, totally meaningless in my humble view.  The towns groups and businesses would walk through the town, church groups, social clubs, etc all showing off to one another their Sunday best.  Games in the park would follow, drinks and high jinks possibly, and a good time was had by all.  

Not much has changed overall in such parades although today they are mostly child orientated and the 'community spirit' may be somewhat less depending where they occur.  Floats from various organisations, local groups (the scooter club today choking one and all with blue smoke), young girls with pom poms for reasons I don't understand, folks in animal or cartoon costumes, always someone with rotten loud music, today is was Rap at 100 decibels, long balloons bent into Star Wars weapon shapes, all surrounded by hordes of mums and dads, kids and always some eedjit who forgot this was on until walking into it by mistake - me!   I read that after the English queens coronation in 1953 each Gala decided to have their own 'Gala Queen, usually around 14 or 15 years of age.'  No doubt in today's world certain boys will now offer themselves.    

These remnants of the 'Mods and Rockers' age turn up each Sunday morning at the local 'greasy spoon' cafe for reasons I don't understand.  This are has many back roads that motorcyclists and no doubt scooter riders love, so maybe that is the origin.  Some old Mods reliving their youth I suspect.  The scooters do look good and it is easy to understand why they were popular in the early 60's.  
Our Gala ends in a park on the other side of town, well clear of me I am glad to say!  Games and shows  (that's 'fairs' to you English) take place, possibly goldfish are still given in prizes, although many dads will be disappointed now the local pub has been shut down.  

In spite of only being 25 I can remember walking past men repairing, possibly making, the road down our street, using a proper 'Steam Roller' to do so.  For years I thought all such engines were 'steam rollers,' but of course most, like this one, had other uses.  We often see them at this time of year, Essex hosts get togethers of such every so often.  One stopped outside my window a few years ago to steal some of the local water (do they pay for this I ask?) and was overtaken by a 'steam lorry' once quite common on Britain's roads.

I know my sister and others will be frequenting the Gala up north, it is a much bigger event in that area, and for the next three or four weeks they will follow this up by attending similar events in other local towns.  Just how many goldfish do they expect to win I ask?



Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

I don't think that it warranted such a dramatic pose, but I must admit that you are looking rather spiffy with your Union Jack helmet and a fine lass on the back of your scooter in that last image. Did she bring the balloon along to send up in case you got lost again?

the fly in the web said...

I too remember proper steam rollers...and steam ploughing units too.

Kay G. said...

This looks like something I would like to see!
Richard told me I should pronounce this "GAH-LA", instead of "GAY-LA", which is how I would say it.
How do you say it?

soubriquet said...

Gah-la of course.

We have them too, when I was a kid, the local one was a very big deal. It took over the local park, various of my female relatives would be busy winning prizes for their baking, or jam-making, or crochet, or knitting. The scouts and guides would march, vintage cars came out of their hiding places, steam traction engines.... (we made some of them in this town), livestock, bellowing bulls, shire horses, the brewery delivered beer on horse-drawn drays, and in the evening, the lights and sounds of the fairground. I'd attempt to win things at various games. Coconut shies, shooting tin ducks.
As I got older... The fair was a place where boys and girls eyed each other.
Sigh. The girls always seemed more interested in the greasy-haired, tattooed tough-guys who ran the rides, than spotty schoolboys like me.

Adullamite said...

Jerry, I NEVER wear union flags!
('Union Jacks' are only flown on ships.)

Fly, You're never that old!

Kay, Always trust Richard!

Soub, A woman's choice is often weird.