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Great chieftain o' the pudding race is the star at Gildredge Burns night

Skirling bagpipes reverberated around the Gildredge Park clubhouse as members gathered to celebrate Rabbie Burns birthday with a traditional Burns supper. Poems, haggis, cock-a-leekie, cranachan, dancing and much more made a memorable evening for 41 members and guests. First held in January 1802, Burns Suppers are enjoyed by true Scots, and friends, at home and around the world. They celebrate the birthday of Robert “Rabbie” Burns, a Scottish poet of the 18th century. He wrote over 550 poems and songs and is Scotland’s national poet.

Anita Dixon had produced an excellent souvenir card with the programme.

Everything was set and ready to go with tables decorated by Linda.

After a welcome from club Chairman Jo Doust, George Murray gave the first toasts and read 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.

Ian White the piper welcoming the guests.

The first course was traditional cock-a-leekie soup prepared by Jo Doust. Then the room hushed as Ian White, our wonderful piper, breathed deeply, the bagpipes filled with air, and the soulful sound of the drones began to fill the room. As his fingers danced along the chanter to provide the melody, the piper led Linda Henderson around the entire company as she carried aloft the steaming haggis.

In the traditional manner, the haggis was addressed with a recitation of Burns’ famous poem. Eight volunteers kindly agreed to have a go at a verse each – in the original Scottish dialect! Well done to David, Ellen, George, Coligna, Linda, Jo, Petina, and Paul. We heard a broad highland burr and lowland precision, plus some sterling efforts by our English women and men to do their best with an accent. On the 3rd verse cue of

His knife see rustic labour dight

Jo Doust raised the ceremonial skean dhu and slashed down to open the waiting haggis

and then, O what a glorious sight, warm-reekin, rich!”

as the contents poured across the silver serving platter. The verses continued as Burns’ poem described the feebleness of a foreign diet in contrast to the health and life affirming properties of the haggis. George Murray took the final verse with its rousing last line of “Gie us a haggis”.

The haggis was served accompanied by George Murray’s neeps and tatties, and gravy. There was a vegetarian haggis as an option. Ian Dixon and Ellen Strevens each provided a superb, funny and complimentary speech as they gave a “Toast to the laddies” and “A reply from the lassies”. A desert of traditional Scottish Cranachan followed, made by Linda Henderson.

Richard Scullion provided a masterly rendition of “Ode to a mouse”. Richard explained how Burns had come across a “wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie” in a field which had set off a train of thought about man’s relationship with nature, time and memory. Richard then read the poem, in the dialect, to great applause.

Coffee and traditional Scottish shortbread were followed by Club President Carol Heasman’s speech and vote of thanks.

But the evening was not yet over. The tables and chair were pushed to the side for Petina Hapgood to lead the dancing. Petina encouraged 12 people to get up and led them through the steps of the “Dashing White Sergeant” and “The Gay Gordons”. The audience enjoyed the scene as the intrepid dozen, in pairs, triples, and sixes somehow managed to be approximately in the right place on the right beat, some of the time! DJ Marilyn had provided background music of traditional Scottish airs throughout the evening, and provided the music for the dancing.

Richard, Lydia, and Paul had run the bar all night, providing drinks plus some “wee drams” of an excellent single malt.

All good things come to an end. Piper Ian White once more filled the room with the stirring sound of the pipes and the company joined hands for a rousing performance of Auld Lang Syne.

The idea of the club offering a Burn’s Supper came from a discussion between Jo Doust and George Murray. Linda Henderson joined the organising group and soon the trio had planned the whole evening. In true Gildredge spirit everyone rallied around and helped on the night from putting up tables to the final piece of washing up.

“…a huge thank you to the team for producing one of the most enjoyable Burns nights we’ve been to over the years” a Gildredge Park Bowler

Next year anyone?

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