|In this interview with Billy Young, aged 54, he describes his long association with the Langholm Common Riding. Billy, who runs the paper shop on the High Street, begins by talking about the miniature versions of the common riding, which were held by children all over the town on common riding day. The older children would be the horses and would carry the younger ones, piggy-back style. Their celebrations would mirror the main ceremony with the four emblems (spade, banna and salt herring, floral crown and thistle) as well as the flag. He remembers that the arrival of the ‘shows’ and carrying the heather besoms in the main procession where also highlights. Billy, who was himself the cornet in 1984, describes this role as the highest honour the town can bestow. He then describes each aspect of the Common Riding in detail. This includes: the itinerary on the day; selection of the cornet (in May); rituals and gatherings (known as ‘smokers’) prior to the day; change over time; the emblems; the role of music and the crier; banna testing; uniform made; dancing; attending other common ridings and the future of the tradition. Billy has been involved with the Common Riding all his life and talks about his part in this. He also describes how the common riding can see the town population increase 2 or 3-fold as ‘exiles’ return to the town to participate. The burgh standard is only used for the Common Riding parade and Billy remarks that the only exception to this rule was when Neil Armstong visited Langholm to be made a freeman of the burgh, in 1972. Towards the end of the interview, Billy remarks that Hugh MacDiarmid was huge supporter of the town and the common riding, saying that Langholm on Common Riding day was world enough for him. MacDiarmid wrote about the festival, especially in his epic poem, ‘A Drunk Man Looks at a Thistle’ and Billy remembered seeing him in the crowd. Billy finishes with a rendition of the fair cry.