Burns Night

Thu, Jan 23rd 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

with spouses

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23 January 2020 Burns Supper Celebration with Bruce Liddle (Piper) and Jim Costello (speaker)

The Club Officers excelled themselves with a great night of fellowship and entertainment. What organisation, the tables were beautifully dressed in keeping with the theme (tartan everywhere, with a ‘wee dram’ at each setting!).

The menu was Scotch vegetable soup followed by Haggis, neaps & tatties), as people arrived Piper Bruce was puffing and blowing to warm up his pipes for the evening’s main event of ‘piping in the haggi’.

The “main event”, led by Piper Bruce closely followed by our chef, Mark, who proudly displayed the Haggis and was closely pursued by our speaker for the evening, Jim. After a couple of circuits of the restaurant, Jim “addressed the haggis” with some gusto and enthusiasm (which most of us could not follow due to his exaggerated Scottish accent, using many of Burns’ words, as appropriate for such an event, finishing with the request for us all to toast to the haggis with our wee drams.

The excellent meal followed and then more entertainment, with the closest we have to a Scotsman, Geordie Jordan, who rendered his version of “The Geordie gans to heaven”, apparently written by his former pal and ‘hooker’ (Rugby terminology) Ian Larmont. Showing the wit of this breed by smart answers to a three tough questions posed by St. Peter: name two days that start with the letter ‘T’ and tell me the number of seconds in a year and what was the first name of the jolly swagman?! Answers: “today and tomorra: 12 (second of January, second of February etc): and Andy (“Andy sang, Andy watched, Andy waited for his billy to boil – instead of “and he sang” etc

It was then Jim’s turn to regale us with his rendition spoken to the memory of Robbie Burns and quite a character he apparently was, often referred to as The Bard of Ayrshire.  A farmer, who couldn’t farm, but turned out to be an excellent ‘wordsmith’, whilst additionally, a good looking philanderer, siring 13 children with 5 different partners in his short 37 years of life. He had a spell in Jamaica as a bookkeeper on a plantation, but returned to Scotland and managed to get published some poems, known as the Kilmarnock volume, the success of the work was immediate, and soon he was known across the country.

After giving up his farm, he removed to Dumfries. It was at this time that, being requested to write lyrics for The Melodies of Scotland, he responded by contributing over 100 songs. He made major contributions to George Thomson's A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice as well as to James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum. Arguably his claim to immortality chiefly rests on these volumes, which placed him in the front rank of lyric poets. As a songwriter he provided his own lyrics, sometimes adapted from traditional words. He put words to Scottish folk melodies and airs which he collected, and composed his own arrangements of the music including modifying tunes or recreating melodies on the basis of fragments. In letters he explained that he preferred simplicity, relating songs to spoken language which should be sung in traditional ways. The original instruments would be fiddle and the guitar of the period which was akin to a cittern.

Burns joined the Royal Dumfries Volunteers in March 1795. As his health began to give way, he began to age prematurely and fell into fits of despondency. The habits of intemperance are said to have aggravated his long-standing possible rheumatic heart condition and on the morning of 21 July 1796, Burns died in Dumfries, at the age of 37. Over 10,000 people attended his funeral, which given the transport and communications of the time, was testament to the following he had acquired. Robert Burns is still regarded across the world as a talented genius who was able to observe, analyse and record everything and anything, sometimes with a typically Scottish sense of humour. Nothing was too small, or too big, to escape his attention. The Complete Illustrated Poems, Songs and Ballads of Robert Burn contains a total of 516 poems, ballads, songs, and pieces he wrote during his travels across Scotland.

The talk included verses from several poems of Robert Burns. "Ode to a Louse", "To a Mouse", "A Man's a Man for a' that “and “Ae Fond Kiss". Other works talked about were “Holy Willies Prayer“, “Tam O’Shanter” and “Auld Lang Syne“.

The poem “To a mouse” was recited, with the words changed as if referring g to a computer mouse rather than a field mouse, and the talk concluded with a few funny jokes demonstrating the Scottish sense of humour

 Bruce returned to play us further tunes on his bagpipes: The Rowan Tree; The Skye Boat song; My Home & Mairi’s Wedding, additionally delivering a couple of amusing anecdotes.

The Valentines concluded the formal entertainment, with David ‘toasting the lassies’, indicating that there exists 26 definitions of the female gender, so one has to be careful. However, he continued highlighting some of the delights of the female species and educating the male contingent with some of his amusing interpretations of what lassies actually meant when they used certain common phrases (generally the opposite of what was indicated!!). But Jackie, as usual, had the last word, with her ‘toast to the laddies’, referencing the appeal of the dashing Robbie Burns, finishing with a reference to has ‘dirk’ stowed in his sock, but to be used to ‘peel the tatas’! She also amused us with examples of why men are considered to come from Mars!(the bringer of War), but questioned why it takes a million sperms to fertilise one egg, suggesting it’s in their DNA in that men are too proud to ask for directions! The evening was concluded with a couple of verses of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, sang with enthusiasm, a great evening, enjoyed by all!                                   

Our joint Presidents then offered the final toast after thanking our guests and in particular Derek and Carmel for organising the event.                                     AR

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