AS the wacky and wonderful Peebleans took to the High Street for the annual Beltane Festival Fancy Dress Parade this year there were two notable missing participants.

Most gutterbluids and even the stooriefits among us can recall a year of hooting with laughter at the parade legends that are Dougie Millar and Sandy Craig.

The dynamic duo has participated since 1975, many times with an ample bosoms, frocks, heels and make-up to take the shape of lovely dames.

Over the decades their creativity has garnered laughs, gasps and hysterics from crowds who witnessed the years of their sometimes controversial tongue in cheek humour.

But if there was ever a time to be daring, it is at Peebles Beltane Fancy Dress Parade and these pair definitely created many memories over the years.

The comedy duo bowed out last year for their final fling in the beloved parade as the Golden Oldies. And, following the festival celebrations this year, they were given certificates from the Beltane Committee in recognition of their longstanding contribution.

I stepped way back in time with Dougie and Sandy to 1975 when it all began, and an old Beltane Stalwart said: “Son you are taking part in the greatest show on earth.”

As I look on at their book filled with old photographs and memories, a wave on nostalgia hits me as I fondly remember some of their earlier years.

But this story began before I was born, when the two friends were sitting in the social club and flippantly mentioned they wanted to take part in the parade.

And, as Dougie explained, it was a conversation with George Pringle, whose son worked for the Peeblesshire News, that inspired their first entry together – Kung Fu and Aye Fu.

“His son had worked on papers in America and on his travels had inherited this dragon’s head. During that time Kung Fu was all the rage and that’s how it came about,” chuckled Dougie.

Asked if they could pick out their favourite year, Dougie said: “It’s very difficult, there’s been a lot. Zimbabwe Z Cars in 1981 was great. It took us 12 weeks to make the costumes. We got feathers from Campbell’s and boiled them in dye to make the Ostriches”.

At times their entries were on the edge of controversy, and they say there have been many themes that “they wouldn’t get away with nowadays”.

They recall 1985 when they were ‘Souper Gran and Scunner Campbell’. Sandy said: “It was a hit at the Cooncillor Jock Campbell. Campbell Napier gave us hens which were in a cage and when we came back on Beltane Saturday morning, we always changed in the gas board workshop at the bottom of Elcho Street Brae, and the hens got oot. They ran up the brae and they took off like vertical jets and landed in the dentist’s gairden.

“Of course I’d had a guid whack o’ drink and I went and rang Mr Hammond’s doorbell and he came out and said, ‘Yes can I help you’ and I replied ‘aye can I get ma hens back!”

He added: “I remember folk were sitting in what was a café at the bottom of Elcho Street Brae and we were chasing the hens – that was a memorable one.”

Disaster struck in 1989 when Dougie broke his ankle but still participated with crutches. “I remember when the parade finished, Dr Love coming up to me and telling me to get hame” said Dougie. “He said ‘you’ll be lucky if you don’t end up walking with a limp.”

Fast forward to the early 90s, Dougie and Sandy were top to toe in orange as the ‘Tango Twins’, and for those that can remember, being tangoed by those pair didn’t mean a dance, rather a cheeky slap to the face.

Of course it is only one day in the year, well maybe two if you count Beltane Saturday morning, that we see these ‘men behaving badly’.

The rest of the year they are upstanding members of the Callants Club, of which Sandy was previously the President before handing the reigns to Dougie.

When the year to 2000 hit the pair continued to delight spectators year after year with their wacky sense of humour.

And if ever they were on the lookout for a pair of ladies bloomers, no questions were asked as Dougie tells me. “Getting the stuff to take part, you would be sitting in the pub and asked for women’s lingerie and it would arrive in the bag. You never knew who had handed it in.”

Sandy and Dougie gave praise to Marion White from the Peebles Cancer Research who, they said, “would get them anything they wanted”.

Over the years there were many prizes doled out, but for these Beltane stalwarts it was the taking part that gave them years of happy memories.

“Dougie added: “If you cannae laugh at yourself, who can you laugh it.”

Asked why 2018 was there final fling, Dougie said: “Auld father time was catching up with us.”

But the double act has admitted they found it particularly hard this year not being up front and centre in the parade.

Talking to the Beltane old timers who have left their legendary mark in the festival’s fancy dress for almost 40 years I can’t help feeling that it isn’t quite over. Perhaps the pair will return if only to celebrate their Ruby Anniversary?

They look at one another and laugh. “Never say never!”