Cornet Christoper Tait leads the ride up the Kirk Wynd. All photos: Grant Kinghorn.Cornet Christoper Tait leads the ride up the Kirk Wynd. All photos: Grant Kinghorn.
Cornet Christoper Tait leads the ride up the Kirk Wynd. All photos: Grant Kinghorn.

Christopher rides wave of emotion in his big day

They do things a little differently down Langholm way.

The rather eccentric emblems used in the Common Riding ceremonies – the Barley Bannock, upon which is nailed a salted herring; the Spade; the Thistle and the Crown – all have historic significance, but what that is isn’t made clear.

Another unique tradition is the annual public vote for the Cornet, who then goes on to represent his town at other town’s festivals, as well as lead the procession in the Muckle Toon itself.

And on Friday, it was the turn of Christopher William Tait.

The 22-year-old industrial boiler engineer at Cochran Boilers in Annan has been a follower of the Common Riding all his life, and he spoke this week of his delight at leading the town’s celebrations.

He said: “I’ve always wanted to do it, and this year for the first time, I put my name in the hat.

"I’ve always watched young, passionate Common Riding men like myself become Cornet, so to get the nod from the people of the town induced a whirlwind of emotions, shock, excitement, the knowledge that the next few months are going to be the best in your life … it’s spectacular.

"In the previous few weeks, it’s been great to visit other towns to see how they do their festivals, and it’s safe to say I’ve made many friends for life in their principals.”

The day began early for Christopher and residents of the Muckle Toon, with the Flute Band waking everyone up in their perambulation of the town at 5am.

He was presented with the Burgh Standard at 8.30am, before the first Crying of the Fair, and Christopher led the mounted procession to the hill.

Back in town, the emblems were paraded, before the second Crying of the Fair welcomed the riders back from their journey round the marches.

An afternoon of horse racing, athletics and dancing all led to the final ceremony in the Markey Place as Christopher handed back the flag at 9.15pm.

"Friday was a whole highlight of its own, but coming into the Kirk Wynd and seeing the sheer amount of people, the roars and the cheers, to be on horseback with the Burgh Standard and leading the cavalcade, it’s got to be the best feeling ever … living the dream.”

And Christopher brings some new blood into the Langholm Common Riding annals.

He said: “Other than the possibility of some long-lost relations, I’m the first in my family to be Cornet.

"My mum and dad, Louise and Christopher, who love the Common Riding, but perhaps have not been as heavily involved as some previous Cornets’ families, have adored every minute of it.

"It’s brilliant to see, from a son’s perspective.”

It’s back to the grindstone now for Christopher.

He said: “I was back to work on Monday.

"I’ve been off a few Mondays of late, but that was quite a depressing one!

"It’s back to reality, but I'm glad I’m back working or I’d be looking at all the social media posts, dwelling on the fact it’s all over, and I think I’d be crying if that was the case.”