We just don’t do carnivals, fairs or fetes with as much aplomb or on the same grand scale as the Americans. Maybe it would help if we smiled occasionally, but we’re genetically incapable of such a facial contortion. We Scots would only smile if God proved his existence once and for all by a) reaching a thumb from Dover to Berwick and squashing the English like woodlice, and then b) rounding off the miracle by replacing the North Sea with heroin.
Or, at a pinch, we’d smile if there was a special episode of ‘You’ve Been Framed’ in which each and every video featured David Cameron being stabbed in the balls by a different angry dwarf in a kilt.
Yes, the Americans like a good smile. If the Grangemouth Gala Day was held in California, USA, (which would be rather unlikely, I’m forced to admit) it would be a non-stop, 24-hour, noisy orgasm of vim, streamers, colour, mariachi bands and pomp, featuring half-naked back-flipping pom-pom girls – with smiles so blinding they could down aircraft – jiggling their breasts with the enthusiasm of a force 4 earthquake. There would be a 50ft-tall animatronic Mickey Mouse shooting fireworks out of its bell-end into the hungry, gaping mouth of a robot Pluto, as sixteen million children wept with joy. And somewhere, somehow, there would be guys in red bell-boy jackets playing trumpets on the backs of motorbikes – upside down and through their arses.
This year, in Grangemouth, Scotland, the Grangemouth Gala Day looked like… well, it looked like exactly what it was: a procession of miserable cunts in anoraks shuffling through the rain in search of the most suitable cliff for an act of mass suicide. It looked like there’d been a delivery of crepe paper and face-paints to a funeral march. If you haven’t visited Grangemouth before and find yourself wondering what it looks like, have a gander at the drug-riddled communities in HBO’s ‘The Wire’, but imagine that everybody’s white.
So What is the Gala Day?
Well, it’s technically a Children’s Day, which makes me a bit of a cock for slating it. It’s not really meant to be enjoyed by the likes of me, childless interloper that I am. What’ll I be doing next? Telling you how shit I found the latest episode of Sesame Street because it wasn’t nearly as good as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?
The galas themselves started off as annual celebrations for miners and mining communities, but the focus of the celebrations was shifted for the following wonderful reason:
In the late Nineteenth century, some Miners’ Gala Days were given over to children in order to reduce drunkenness.
Resources for Learning in Scotland website
And we all know how successful a strategy that turned out to be. Here’s the zinger:
Gun Terror of Oilman
A teenage thug pointed a gun at the head of a man who told him off for breaking bottles in a kids’ play area.
But Mr Kelly grappled Martin to the ground and got the air pistol off him, Falkirk Sheriff Court heard yesterday.
The terror attack happened on Grangemouth Gala Day in June.
Lawyer Andy Bryson said Martin was ‘exceedingly drunk’ at the gala day.
Ah, yes. The only flaw in that plan was that by 2012 all of the children would be alcoholics, too. Alcohol does indeed still play a huge part in the Grangemouth Gala Day. Like they say of the 1960s: if you can remember what happened, then you weren’t actually there. Grangemouth has other things in common with the 1960s, in that it’s full of incredibly racist people with shite haircuts taking drugs and having unfussy sex with strangers.
(actually, a joke I used to tell on-stage about Grangemouth is that it’s a lot like Amsterdam: in that it’s completely flat, and filled with drugs and whores.)
So What Happens ‘an That?
What happens is this: each year a ‘royal family’ is assembled from one of the local primary schools, a different school having the honour of doing this each year until it’s back to the start of the cycle again. Kids at the year’s chosen school are then asked if they’d like to volunteer themselves to be one of the gala’s persons of special significance. Those who do are then whittled down by their schoolmates by means of a popularity contest, until each of the main roles are filled: Queen, Ladies in Waiting, Paiges, a Flower Queen etc.
The girl elected Queen (Republicans take note) then has the arduous task of selecting just one of her classmates to be sealed inside a BMW and slammed into a wall by a drunk driver. OK, I made that bit up.
There’s no King of the Gala Day, but one lucky boy does get to be the Prince, whose role it is to follow the Queen around muttering increasingly unhelpful racist remarks. OK, I made that bit up, too. But they should introduce that role. It’d be so easy to find viable candidates amongst the people of Grangemouth.
The parents of ‘the royals’ then have to spend £80 million trillion pounds building an arch display over their homes. If they’re poor, they simply steal the necessary materials, or just selotape bits of A4 paper that read: ‘ALL HAYL THE QUEAN’ to their windows. Some of the displays are incredible. You know, fairy-tale castles, enchanted forests, 1940s cinemas. And some of them are shit.
On the day itself – where it’s usually raining despite the event taking place towards the end of June – trucks filled with children (that makes it sound like a pogrom: no concentration camps are involved), and floats prepared by other schools and local businesses, and pipe bands, and brass bands, and veterans, and such like, all form a long procession through the streets, before arriving in the central park for the crowning ceremony. And, as we’ve already established, lots of people get drunk.
Oh, and there are lots of flags everywhere. Or bunting, as they call it. Which sounds to me a little too much like a sex act. And a jolly good one at that.
In closing, as I’ve already stated, it’s actually a grand day out for the folks of Grangemouth, especially for those with relatives taking part in the procession. And some of the arches have been super-awesome in this and previous years, as you’ll see from the pictures below. (OK, part of this, like with the Skinflats article, is life-insurance, but I mean it, too, honest!) Actually, my niece was in the procession this year, and she was awesome, so get that roond ye.
And, of course, this happens at the Grangemouth Gala Day shows every year, and must be shared with the world: