FORMER Marillion frontman Fish this week saw for the first time how his famous lyrics about Galashiels had now been immortalised in paving stones in the town centre.
Fish, real name Derek Dick, had been invited by Scottish Borders Council to officially open the refurbished Market Square, in which new paving stones have been inscribed with verses from his 1985 smash hit, Kayleigh.
The improvements are part of a programme of work designed to revamp the centre of the town.
The Haddington-based singer confirmed to TheSouthern that certain parts of the song did refer to Galashiels, although not, as commonly believed, the lines about cherry trees in the Market Square.
These, in fact, refer to Aylesbury, although they have also been etched into the new flagstones.
The song was partly inspired by a time in the 1980s when Fish’s girlfriend was at the Scottish College of Textiles in Galashiels.
Fish told us he had originally found out from the music publisher who looks after his material, that the town wanted to use his lyrics in this way as a permanent tribute.
“And they mentioned Kayleigh, so I had to get in touch. You know, everyone says ‘cherry blossom in the Market Square’ is about Gala – it’s not,” he told us.
“So I was completely honest, but the lines about ‘stilettoes in the snow’, and ‘moon-washed college halls’ is most definitely about Gala and I’ve got very fond memories of that time.”
And Fish, now 54, explained how his first gig had actually been in Galashiels back in 1980 while he was working as a local forestry worker at the nearby Bowhill Estate.
“I started singing here. The very first gig I ever did as a singer was in Gala in the Golden Lion pub.”
Fish brought Marillion to Galashiels for two gigs in the 1980s at the Scottish College of Textiles and has since performed solo shows in the town’s Volunteer Hall in more recent years.
And there are other links, with local musician Gavin Dickie playing bass in Fish’s band, while Frank Usher, from Innerleithen, is also a long-time member.
“So, I’ve always had strong links with Galashiels,” added Fish.
Prior to Tuesday’s official re-opening, Fish had not seen the finished result with his lyrics carved into the new stonework.
“No, I wanted to keep it as a big surprise. Actually, I am really humbled by this. I remember the last time I was here, I was sitting in Bank Street eating fish and chips in about 2004 or 2005, and thinking back to 1980 and what it was like then when I was just a laddie with a dream. So much has happened since then.”
Fish agreed Galashiels has changed a lot over the years, but could not say whether it had been for the better or not.
“My only experience of Gala in recent years has been meeting up with the guys at Tesco’s with the tour bus to take them elsewhere in the world.. You know what I mean?”
But he says he owes much to his time in Galashiels: “I never thought, when I was sitting eating fish and chips in Bank Street, that one day I would have my words carved in stone here.
“So I want to thank the town and the people of Gala – it’s a great honour.”