Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Sat. May 31St. 08, off to the pleasant hamlet of Johnstone. This was their Gala Day and the sun for once was behaving itself, you could not have asked for better weather. The kind of day where people (Scots.) greet each other with comments like "man this heat is desperate" or "this is like a sauna" or "where's the beer tent" alas there was no such tent but we bravely carried on.
From memory this is the 4Th. such Gala Day since it was revived, mainly through the efforts of local politicians like ex Cllr. John Kenny and serving Cllrs. Iain McMillan, John Hood and John Caldwell, all colleagues of mine I'm proud to say.
Most of all though the people of Johnstone are due congratulations for the effort they have put in to make this occasion, once again an unmissable part of the Towns life, well done to all of them.

On entering the park I met old colleague John Kenny resplendent in his white safari suit and panama hat looking like a colonial Governor or 'our man in Havana' I watched from a distance and noted why he is known as "Mr. Johnstone" he knows everyone and they know him, he is entitled to feel pride in what he has helped to achieve for the town.
Ex Council leader Jim Harkins was also there sitting at the side of the 'Labour Party Stall' looking prosperous and contented, as he should, another man who has made a great difference to the rebirth of the town when he was council leader.
While dozens of wee boys seemed to be involved in a mad game of see who can trip over the most tent ropes at breakneck speed and crash into stalls, I was captivated immediately by the 'Falconry Club Display' Red Tailed Hawk, Harris Hawk, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk, Eagle owl, Barn owl, Tawny Owl and several smaller owls which I did not recognise, there were several others which I can't remember except one.
Seemingly overlooking them all with disdain was a magnificent female adult Golden Eagle which sat mostly stalk still regally watching it all, a stunning display.
The public could get their picture taken holding the birds suitably gloved and gauntleted, so like a big kid I took my place in the queue to get my picture taken with the Golden Eagle.

She was placed on my arm and the weight was the first surprise, she was heavy and incredibly strong, she sat with her claw hammer beak inches from my face staring at the crowd and then she spun her head and stared at me, her right eye about two inches from my left eye and held my gaze, unblinking and utterly fierce, I stroked her breast feathers and it would be safe to say that she was calmer than me, my head is tilted slightly away from her just to give her some space, OK ? this was an ambition realised. Her and her relatives are as old as time, they have never had the need to change, a sobering thought.

It probably sounds corny but I felt privileged that she allowed me to do this without taking a chunk out of me, she is of course like the rest, raised in captivity and is not suitable to be released, the Falconry people made a fortune on the day for their very worthy cause, some ignorant b------s kill these creatures for fun.
There was also a dog show which was hilarious, definitely not Crufts but every bit as enjoyable, a great many of these mutts would not get in at Crufts.
Dogs of every kind and size some expensive and some less so were on parade with their owners.
The occasional fight would break out which had me in stitches with one wee black and brown mongrel always in the thick of it, I think he was a collie/crocodile cross, he won nothing but if there had been a prize for aggression and courage he would have had romped it.

His owner spent a lot of time saying "he's not usually like this" she would scold him and take him away and bring him back where he would start eyeing up his next opponent and growling under his breath at them, I don't know what he's 'usually like' but he was having the time of his life on Saturday.
Good causes benefited from the generosity of the large good humoured crowd and a great time was had by all, everyone went home burnt and exhausted, well done Johnstone.


Janice said...

My mum bought my dad a mornings bird handling and falconry experience for his birthday a few years back. He absolutely loved it.

It sounds like the sort of thing you might enjoy. Perhaps you should start dropping hints in time for Christmas.

If you do a google search you'll come up with a few venues all over the UK.

This is the one my dad did but there are loads of others.


ShrekBall said...

We had a BBQ with some friends. Was supposed to be on the Sunday but the weather turned and I brought it forward a day. Tried to go to the Renfrew Gala day on the Sunday but it pee'd down in the afternoon. A shame.

Is that bird actually sitting on you? They are magnificent. There are sometimes displays in the St Enoch centre and (at Christmas) in the Savoy. Fascinating creatures but you are not allowed to handle them on those booths which is a shame.

Rumbold said...

Is it time for a caption competition?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Janice) 04/06/08

Thank you, it was a fabulous encounter.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Rumbold) 10:08

I decided to risk your most truculent sneer, because I enjoyed it so much, go ahead.

ShrekBall said...

Caption Competition?

"Oi, you looking at my bird?"

Anonymous said...

"She was placed on my arm and the weight was the first surprise, she was heavy and incredibly strong, she sat with her claw hammer beak inches from my face staring at the crowd and then she spun her head and stared at me, her right eye about two inches from my left eye and held my gaze, unblinking and utterly fierce"

Obviously had a very well-developed judgment of character!

Anonymous said...

"He'll not have a weight problem after I get started!"

Anonymous said...


Mmm.. I wonder if I could eat a whole one.

Rumbold said...


I'm only jesting- it sounds as though it was a really enjoyable day.

Anonymous said...

Caption competition: "Scientists have described the process of evolution as producing 'mixed results'."

Anonymous said...

Terry, Come off it! It was the SNP's Tracey McKnee who did all the work for this event, The SNP run Council came up with the funds and organizational skill.

As for John Kenny on safari, he looked a poor wee sole after being ejected from offcie by the surge in SNP support, so come off it Terry, play fair, admit to the work of the SNP and Tracey, at least say thanks and we can call it a day!

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 07/06/08

Johnstone Gala Day was great and you clearly know nothing about it.