Keep Behind The Cornet
(for thirty years)!
Thirty years on, a new Lord Cornet has been chosen, procession
entrants have organised fund-raisers and sought children to take part in
our Lanimer celebrations. The Lanimer Queen announced, her court chosen,
takes me back to all that preparation for the big day The Lord
Cornet-elect has meetings with his Right and Left Hand men, to
introduce him to his duties; attending various functions, Whuppity
Scoorie and the Het Pint; presenting prizes and trophies.
Riding lessons won't be an issue this year. Brian Ross is a competent
horseman, and maybe some of the Cornets' Club members will learn from
him! He will also become a member of the Lanimer Committee. Thirty years
ago ex-Lord Cornets, held most of the convenorships. I can remember my
Right and Left Hand men explaining Committee duties I should expect. The
Chair, May Hodgson confirmed my role, by tradition.
After election (this year is an exception), riding lessons start very
quickly for a Lord Cornet-elect. Unfortunately, lessons with Strathclyde
Police Mounted Branch are no longer available. In these days three
working guys received instruction once a week for fourteen weeks. It was
fantastic. We rode at Glasgow Green and Pollok Park. I rode 'Ballantrae',
who had a memorable gallop up Ibrox Park during a football disturbance
(not with me on board!). The instructors wanted us to be competent. We
cantered, jumped, came off. We made friends like Ex-Chief Inspector
Willie McNaught and Ex-Sergeant Alec Binnie, who are regulars at Lanimer
events. We were even guests at their daughters' weddings, such were the
friendships that developed.
Weekly trips to the Mounted Branch were an excellent start. Some
Cornets have their own horses. Keith Darroch bought one, and we went to
Jimmy Hamilton twice a week. We also went to the Russells in Carluke,
and had a few gallops on Carluke Moor. It took a lot of our time, but it
was worth it, and made us more competent.
One story saw Keith Darroch and me at Duns. The Border Rides start
early. We had booked two horses. A horse box drew up. "Have you two
horses for Lanark?" asked Keith. "Aye," replied the driver, "but tell
me, are you a horseman, sir?" "Trained by Glasgow Police," answered
Keith proudly "Fine," said the driver. "That's your horse!"
We mounted up and rode off. At the first watering hole I caught up
with Keith, who likened his horse to a Ferrari. Mine was slower. I rode
behind the last Marshall on the next stage. Keith stayed with me,
briefly, when he was dumped on his back. I think his horse got fed up
being kept back so that I could keep up! At the reception, Keith,
speaking on behalf of the visitors, began, "They tell me it's beautiful
countryside around here. All I've seen all day is the space between two
ears, and bright blue sky, looking up after being thrown from my horse!"
We rode at Annan and Kelso. We attended the Balls at Moffat and
Kirkudbright. We went to Irvine, to support the Irvine carters, in
return for their wonderful support over the years at our Lanimers.
The Lord Cornet has many tasks in the Lord Cornets' Club as the years
pass; Dance Convener; Horse Convener; President of the Club. As Dance
Convener, which I did twice, I introduced the seating plan, and it still
Thirty years ago, the Club's donation to the Lanimer Committee was
miserly, and prompted me to organise a fundraiser. How far I could walk,
from 7am to 7pm, around three routes in Lanark? Friends walked with me,
over forty four and a half miles! I was piped to the Finish by some of
the Lanark District Pipe Band. They then escorted me home; a humbling,
but memorable moment. We raised £1000. The president, Jim Alexander, and
I proudly presented a cheque to the Chairwoman. Sadly, the event was
never repeated. The Lord Cornets' Club now donate a four-figure sum,
annually, to the Lanimer Committee.
When I was appointed Cornet I took this as a lifetime commitment. I
know that Millar Stoddart and Keith Darroch think likewise. We are the
longest standing riding Cornets, riding just behind the front three, the
only ones who have precedence. I keep getting the feeling I've been here
I miss going up Hope Street on Lanimer morning, cantering up to the
County Buildings; a great start to Lanimer day. A miss is the One o'
Clock Procession round the town, picking out old school mates and
friends along the route. I miss that canter up the Racecourse, behind
the Cornet, a sight never likely to be seen again, except on videos.
"Keep behind the Cornet!" was the cry I can still remember what it felt
like to be first up the course. Once, a small pony to my left dared to
pass a police horse called 'Commander'.
Brian Ross, will do a good job for our town this year, and will ride
at a lot of Border festivals. Hopefully, a strong local support will go
with him. "Safe-oot! Safe-in!"
Ex-Lord Cornet John (Johnny) Barrie