Take time to think of Flodden slain

West Linton Whipmans
West Linton Whipmans

A tidal wave of pride and passion will sweep across the Borders during the coming weeks. In burghs Royal and other, in towns and villages, hearts will beat like the band’s big drum and tears will flow like a bonny Border burn. Coloured rosettes will be pinned to swollen chests and ties of various affiliations unearthed from the back of drawers for their annual airing.

There will be speeches, toasts, songs and stories. Their will be reminiscences and there will be promises to meet again, for auld times’ sake. There will be empty spaces at family dinner tables. No, not all have passed on to the mysterious beyond, they just met some pals and forgot the time.

There will be empty wallets in the morning after the day before and there will be trouser pockets so full of coins you’d need a crane to lift them from the floor where they were so carefully deposited in the early hours.

There will be grand family reunions, much shaking of hands, hugs and kisses, and a few ill-thought words that will be much regretted as soon as soon as they have been uttered.

There will be bands of pipe, brass and flute. Flags and standards emblazoned with crests and mottos will flutter in what we hope will be a kind summer sun and a gentle breeze. There will be horses bearing riders of various equestrian capabilities and there will be many more on foot pacing well-known streets and byways. There will be friendships – some spanning many years, others more recent, some newly-forged.

And there will be an array of men, women and children, chosen to be the proud representatives of the place they know as home.

It is, of course, the time of our gatherings, common ridings, civic weeks and festivals. West Linton leads the way and as their 10-day Whipman Play nears its end, Teries will tonight see their cherished Banner o’ Blue bussed in the Town Hall before their big day tomorrow. And the rest of the Borders will follow in pre-determined order. For Selkirk and Coldstream 2013 is a special year – the 500th anniversary of Flodden. Both towns commemorate that ill-fated (so far as we Scots were concerned) conflict of September 9, 1513, and will mark it with special events this year.

But Flodden was a battle that hit every town, village and hamlet in the Borders and its pain was felt throughout the length and breadth of Scotland. It’s just a thought – but shouldn’t our communities here in the Borders, so close to the battlefield and so badly hit by death and widowhood, be doing more this year to mark the anniversary? The Flower’s o’ the Forest was penned about that fateful battle. The tune was first piped at the opening of the Cenotaph on Whitehall and will sound across the Borders this summer.

But shouldn’t we be doing a wee bit more?

To all those who will lead from the front this summer, I wish them Safe Oot, Safe In.

And ask – please take time and give Flodden a thought.