Burns Supper – 23 January 2018
Around sixty members and guests attended our annual Burns Supper at the Savoy Park Hotel. Into the company of the (nearly) great and the (mostly) good, we welcomed surprise Canadian visitors John Hutchison and Margaret Watkins from Vancouver and Mary Johnston from North Lincolnshire. Piper Leslie Wilson and our favourite local group, Luath, provided the musical accompaniment and entertainment.
After the welcome from President Craig, the nicht’s boisterous ongauns began in the traditional manner, with Charlie Steel’s well-honed address to that renowned chieftain o’ the puddin race, and Colin Vooght’s Selkirk Grace.
Thereafter, the Immortal Memory of the bard was delivered in highly humorous vein by Neil Beattie who began by inviting us to imagine being in the company of Burns: What would he say? What would we say? He suggested that conversation might be awkward since the three principal taboos at Rotary tables were politics, sex and religion, all fearlessly (some may say foolishly) the subjects of many of Burns’ best known verses from which Neil selected a number to illustrate his thesis. He then amused his audience with recitation of a tribute to Burns by Scotland’s ‘other national poet’, (Sir) William Topaz McGonnagle:“
“Ye sons of Scotland, my heart often mourns
When I think of the treatment of Robert Burns;
Because, while he was living, . . . .
The people unto him were seldom giving.
Immortal bard of Ayr, I must conclude my muse,
And to write in praise of thee my pen does not refuse,
For you were a mighty poet, few could with you compare,
And also an honour to Scotland,
For your genius it is fair.”
Whilst conceding that the two poets may not have been on an entirely equal intellectual and literary level, Neil concluded by agreeing with McGonnagle that Burns was indeed a ‘humanitarian genius’
Well……, as if that wasn’t enough of a laugh we were then treated to two hugely entertaining speeches by husband and wife, Allan McWilliam (toast to the lassies) and Lynn McWilliam (reply on behalf of the lassies).
Both assured us that there had been no collusion during their individual preparations! Allan listed a number of instances where men are different to women and should ca canny when ‘the look’ is fired by the “sullen, sulky dame”. Despite some provocative assertions, Allan conceded that Burns’ rise to fame was substantially due to the lassies and that women needed to do things twice as well as men to be considered half as good. Lynn responded by thanking Allan for his tribute and suggesting that the need for political correctness today was in danger of blurring the relationships between men and women. She then read out ‘The Fifteen Rules for Marriage’ as written by a woman. These included such gems as:
- The wife can never be wrong.
- If the wife is wrong it is due to a misunderstanding which was the direct result of something the husband said or did.
- The husband may be right if he agrees with the wife (unless she wants him to disagree).
Lynn emphasised that, despite much misheld belief to the contrary, Burns had been a great believer in the rights of women and she acknowledged that ‘a man’s a man for a’ that’.
Colin Vooght delivered a much-deserved thanks to everyone.