Third Degree Burns
Rather against his better judgement Huttonian has been inveigled into attending a Burns Supper this evening. The first since our arrival in the Borders 11 years ago. It does however promise to be a much more relaxed and less self consciously heavy occasion than most of the suppers I was not able to avoid overseas where there were huge ex pat Caledonian Societies whose functions I had an (official) duty to attend. In certain cultures these tribal gatherings were not trouble free. I need not recount again my attempts to persuade a very senior Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affair's highheidyin to lift a ban on the local Society holding a Burns event imposed as it was believed that stabbing the Haggis was a metaphor for human sacrifice; nor, the next day trying to explain how the imported Caledonian Airlines Piper was found, at 6am unconscious and naked except for his pipes, draped around the Dar Es Salaam War Memorial. And not necessary again to go into detail as why it was that in Kuwait, very banned alcohol was served in brown teapots at Caledonian functions where the only Kuwaiti guest was the patron of the society having wasted (his words) his formative years at Glasgow University. One other Kuwaiti friend has repeatedly turned down invitations to Burns suppers as he was convinced that the Haggis was entombed in a pig's stomach rather than a sheep's.
But my main problem with Burn's memorials were the horrendous 'Immortal Memories' the main toast to the Bard. Long winded (less than forty minutes regarded as disrespectful) often incomprehensible, usually humourless and generally delivered by imported professional 'Burns Speakers' who might be giving the same address to 10 or so expat gatherings in 10 different countries in the course of second half of January. Most of these garrulous gents (never a woman) had recourse to the 'Burns Supper Companion' with its three specimen 'Immortal Memories'. Thus a 33.3333% chance you had heard that speech last year, and ditto,you would, the next. You could shorten these odds as happened on one occasion: the speaker, a rep from a Scotch Distillery, high on his sample miniatures, give all three addresses from the 'Companion' and was only drowned out towards the end of Act 111 by the hastily revived Piper, recovered from under a table, being ordered to break prematurely into Auld Lang Syne followed by a rather pointed 'Will Ye No come back again' with the emphasis on the
Tonight will not be like that. No Piper, No Tam O Shanter with Son and Lumiere. Haggis an Neeps. OK don't mind that and otherwise readings about or from the Man. I am even doing a couple of readings about the 'Farmer Poet' which can be read in incomers English (I was warned sternly not to attempt a Scottish accent-for that relief, much thanks)
And no need to explain the mysteries to anyone. And no cause to follow the example of a former British Ambassadorial colleague, our man in Telaviv, who having invited a fairly orthodox Jewish acquaintance to a Burns supper found it necessasry to explain that 'Rabbi' as applied to Burns was not a description of his religious functions so as to avoid his guest taking unnecessary offence from some of the proceedings.
And Shall Ould Acquaintance be forgot?
After a nip or two
(The image is from a Berwickshire News story about the official Burns Supper in Duns a couple of years ago)
Labels: Burns, Rabbi Burns, Suffering from Burns