Here’s a first.
As the more alert of you will be aware, last Friday was Burns’ Night and that was a good thing, not least because for the first time I gave a Burns’ Night Supper. If you’re not aware of this tradition, and it’s one that I suspect Burns himself would have mercilessly mocked, it consists of Scottish people dining on haggis, neeps and tatties (swede and potatoes) while someone recites Burns poetry and someone else plays bagpipes unless forcibly restrained.
Actually I quite like the sound of bagpipes. Or a solitary bagpipe to be precise. Mass pipe bands, less so. My late father who delighted in his Scottish heritage would occasionally give me a record of the Argyll Regiment Pipe Band or some such and this put me off that particular musical niche for life. Though with the glorious lack of taste that only a small child can muster, I did adore Scotch on the Rocks.
But these days, I prefer the solitary pipe, preferably lamenting something.
So, at the request of an Eastern European of my acquaintance who is interested in the ethnography of her adopted country, I put together a rather scratch Burns Night Supper. I gave the Selkirk Grace* and poured out some whisky while some cove in a kilt recited an appropriate poem. We missed out on the appallingly winsome sounding ‘Toast to the Lassies’ and ‘The Lassies Reply’ though I did find a youtube clip of an arch middle aged gentlemen giving the toast but as he was so remarkably fat** I was obliged to drown him out with a rousing chorus of ‘Who Ate All the Haggis’.
*Some have meat but cannae eat
And some have none but want it.
But we have meat and we can eat,
So may the Lord be thankit
**And I’ll never be asked to pose for a campaign about the dangers of over-dieting
And then it settled to an evening of Corries and Silly Wizard CDs interspersed with a blast of Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre which my dining companion had adored as a six year old. I refer you to my above comments about music appreciation among the under-10s. This led to quite a lot more whisky.
And so it ended.
What did I learn? That obtaining a haggis in central
is surprisingly hard given we’re only about 100 miles away from the
border. I mean, I know the Scots
besieged the city but that was coming on for four and a half centuries ago and
there is such a thing as holding a grudge for too long. I learned that it is possible to steam a
haggis, boil potatoes and then suedes when only one ring on your cooker
works. You boil the veg in the boiling
water that’s steaming the haggis of course.
I found out that Burns really should not be recited in an English accent
and finally, according to the radio the next day, I found out that I probably
got the grace wrong. Newcastle
Still, the haggis was nice.