This week sees a Burns Supper. Yes, the Bard’s birthday may be gone, but the tartan celebrations go on. The great chieftain of the pudding race lives. Rhyme reigns.
I am told that this annual event can continue to take place until the end of February and beyond. Then we all like a party. Especially one that comes with poetry and passion.
I eat the haggis. It is delicious, but it sits in a creamy pool of whisky sauce. Which means there is now the worry about driving home. I need not concern myself. A good Burns supper will last for hours.
The Immortal Memory can eat up much of the night. Then there are the recitations and there is the singing. There are comfort breaks and, in this case, a raffle with no fewer than thirty prizes. A teaspoon of alcohol must surely manage to work itself out of the system by the time we join hands to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in the wee small hours.
Of course, there is no such thing as a free meal and my task is to do the Reply for the Lassies. The ladies have been praised, teased and toasted by the local MP. Now I must get to my feet and poke fun at the males in the audience.
Being last to speak is always difficult. It is late and thoughts are turning to bed. Folk have had their fill of food and verse. They sense the end and are restless.
You have to rouse them from their slumbers. You must shake them from their torpors. You must give them something witty.
Lines like ‘a man is like a computer… hard to figure out and never enough memory’ go down well. Another guaranteed to get a laugh is ‘give a man an inch and he thinks he’s a ruler.’
It is not all trivial. I quote romantic Burnsian verse. Who could fail to be moved by the emotion expressed in ‘Ae Fond Kiss’? Or to be told that you will be loved until the seas go dry and the rocks melt with the sun?
We come together at the end of the evening to remember auld acquaintance and I come away with an interesting fact. When referring to Scotland’s Bard, it is always ‘Robert’ or ‘Robbie’. It is should not be ‘Rabbie’.
It is good to learn new things. Which is why I am looking forward to the Bonnetmakers dinner later this year. I have just received an invitation to this prestigious and historic event – and, being an enthusiastic hat wearer, am keen to find our more about what is involved.
Dundee was the first Scottish Burgh to have a Bonnetmaker Craft. And it was one of the few to allow females into its ranks. The men were still ‘Masters’, of course, whilst the women could only ‘occupy the Craft.’ But they were still a part of it. Robert Burns, with his call for the rights of women, would hopefully have approved…