All Burns Suppers begin with the Selkirk Grace:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit
What better place to celebrate the life of Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns, than in a tartan chair in front of a crackling, wood fire.
Once again, I’ve had my head down working on my next novella. If you go by word length, it does qualify as a full-fledged novel, but that’s neither here nor there.
Here’s a portrait of the bard … a handsome fellow, don’t you think?
I’ll summon my manservant, Donald (the Red), to bring us some refreshments.
Some of the selection of whiskies on hand to toast the bard. I also have a special edition Cardhu, 18-year-old Cardhu (not available in Canada), and Oban on hand should these not whet your tastebuds.
We can have cheese and oakcakes with our drams. That way we’re not too tipsy before the feast. Will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties and bashed neeps?
(swish of swinging door as the manservant returns with a tray carrying a decanter of whisky – 18-year-old Cardhu no less, two glasses and water). “Your whisky, my lady,” he says as he places it on the table.
As the manservant straightens to leave, I cry out… “Donald, where’s your trousers?” because so unlike him, he’s wearing a kilt!
Overcome by the shock of seeing him dressed in that fashion, it takes me a moment to regain my composure. (fans self with a copy of Leopard Magazine) which is very fitting as it’s published in Aberdeenshire where my father was born.
After the Selkirk Grace is recited, the moment everyone (well maybe NOT everyone) has been waiting for arrives – the piping in of the haggis.
Address To A Haggis
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.
Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!
Now, the haggis is cut open with great pomp and circumstance, although one has to be careful they don’t get a splattering of boiling hot haggis on them when the casing is cut.
Haggis looks like ground beef (especially in this picture). It’s rather spicy but served with turnips and mashed potatoes, the spiciness can be toned down somewhat.
After our main course, we have Cranachan for dessert.
Back in the day, when Burns Suppers were held at the Manitonna Hotel in Brockville, Creme de menthe parfait was the dessert. Not very Scottish, but good. I was a member of the Wee McGregors Highland Dancing group and it was at this time, we performed for the guests. Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Shepherd’s Crook and more.
That’s a real sword and it’s sharp. You just have to ask my cousin who cut the end of her toe on the tip of the blade. I won a silver medal performing this dance at the 1000 Islands Highland Games in 1969 – and no blood was shed.
Before we get started with the Ceilidh, a recitation of Burns’ poetry starting with Ae Fond Kiss by Outlander heartthrob, Sam Heughan.
Followed by Red Red Rose.
I think you’ll like what I have in store for you at the ceilidh tonight. I tried to get the Old Blind Dogs but they weren’t available. That’s okay as I do have a vast collection of Scottish music on CDs – Old Blind Dogs, The Corries, Runrig and the list goes on.
One of my favourite Runrig songs is Alba. Have a watch/listen and see what you think.
We’ve all heard of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but how many of you have heard of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers? Yup, they’re real and they play rock music on bagpipes.
How about this piece? Don’t Stop Believing by Journey played by the Pipers?
One of my favourites performed by the Old Blind Dogs is The Cruel Sister. Listen closely to the lyrics. Cruel is putting it mildly.
And another favourite by The Old Blind Dogs …
There’s a clock tower in MacDuff that has faces on three of the four sides. The side facing Banff has no face. If the good people of Banff didn’t know what time it was, they didn’t know what time MacPherson was being executed.
As we bring the evening to a close, here’s a wee bit of light reading for ‘after the feastie’.
Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where you celebrate.