Celebrating jubilees in Galashiels

I hope Her Majesty is having an enjoyable – if busy – jubilee year. Actually it’s her second jubilee on the trot – her succession to the throne last year and the coronation this year. And I’m glad the Duke is on the mend. I’ve got a lot of time for that guy. He’s supposedly had to spend his life a few paces behind his good lady, but he’s certainly expressed some punchy opinions in stage whispers which were perhaps just a wee bit loud for them not to be heard.

There are those who say he should retire from public life and enjoy what life he has left. I can’t agree, because I’d miss his cheeky grin and his equally cheeky comments.

The Queen reads from a script, her hubby is prone to saying what he thinks – and that I like.

But returning for a moment to jubilees. I’ve had a few myself – at the picture house. Remember them? Funny shapes of orange-coloured blocks of ice encased in cardboard that you had to bite through to open. Once released from their captivity you sooked and sooked until the orange was gone but the block of ice remained. And remember you are sitting in the darkened surrounds of the pictures – in my case either the Pavilion (the Piv) or the Playhouse (the Capitol) in Galashiels.

And just some clarification here. The Pavilion that currently exists wasn’t the original Pavilion. That was in Channel Street and is long demolished.

However, back to the jubilee. Not the Queen’s duo but my chunk of ice that by now is freezing my fingers. It would be easy enough to drop it and let it melt, allowing a cinema- goer a few rows further down to think someone has been caught short. No, our crowd had better plans. We waited for key moments – like a gun fight, a clinching kiss or a cowboy leaping over a canyon – and threw them at the screen.

That incurred the wrath of Piv manager Jimmy Smith or his trusty sidekick Bobby Knox, known to all as the Piv Comanche. If you were lucky and one half of this intrepid pair was having a break at the nearby Douglas Hotel, you avoided the pincer movement and probably escaped capture. If not – it was out the door. But we hadn’t lost much really, because we had sneaked in through the fire escape or via the front shop.

I don’t know if you can still buy jubilees – and popcorn doesn’t reach the screen.

But to matters royal, because this year it’s the turn of the Borders to appear on their tour agenda.

The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay have already been to Peebles, Galashiels and Hawick. And next week HM – sadly minus the recuperating HRH – will open the Buchan Centre in Peebles and the revamped Abbotsford.

Security now decrees that information such as timings are guarded from the public. That’s sad for those who want to wave flags and cheer.

I was cheered once ahead of the Queen. As a message boy on an ancient creaking bike for Davie Fell’s fish shop (Emslie’s) in Gala in the mid 1960s, mine was the last vehicle allowed along the regal route past the fountain. Two weeks later, going down Glenfield Brae, the steering column snapped and I came a cropper alongside cod, haddock, fish cakes and eggs. Thankfully, it didn’t happen in front of HM.