THE BARD OF AYRSHIRE CELEBRATED – BURNS NIGHT 2019

THE BARD OF AYRSHIRE CELEBRATED – BURNS NIGHT 2019

Wherever there’s a Scot in the neighbourhood,  a celebration of Scotland’s favourite son, Robert Burns, is always going to happen on or around the anniversary of the great man’s birth.

And so it was in Amberley’s Parish Hall on the night of Saturday, 19th January. At the behest of that notable north-of-the-border couple, Ian and Valerie Galbraith, some fifty-six revellers, Sassenachs and Scots alike, convened to share an evening of traditional feasting and merriment in praise of Rabbie. And,  by the way, it was all in aid of ACTnow, the church tower fund.

The event kicked off with a welcome glass of fizz, owing its origins more to the vineyards of Europe than the distilleries on the banks of the Spey. But thereafter, the fare was without exception faithful to the poet’s homeland: Smoked mackerel pate with oatcakes, the Haggis – borne aloft by Valerie G – served with Bashed Neeps and Champit Tatties (or was it Champit Neeps and Bashed Tatties? The jury’s still out). The gravy was neat whisky. Honest! “It’s a good excuse,” says Ian. Delicious Cranachan, that scrummy mix of oatmeal and raspberries, cream, honey and – yes, you guessed it – whisky was served as dessert. Yum!

No Burns Night supper could be complete without the ‘Selkirk Grace’ and the famous ‘Address to the Haggis’, both penned by our hero, and on this occasion delivered by Ian with suitable gravitas.

And then, when all were mellow and replete, the entertainment – or the ‘On Gauns’ (Ongoings) began. No Burns Supper would be complete without singing and on this occasion, The Quartet (Ginny Airey, Jeff Feakins, Frances Hancock and Richard Robinson), accompanied by Tony Hancock fulfilled that obligation right bonnily.

A Toast (well, of course!) to The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns followed, and a couple of recitations of famous works of Burns – ‘Tam O’ Shanter’  (Ian Galbraith) and ‘To A Mouse’ (Bob Middleton) followed, interspersed with Richard Robinson’s Address to the Lassies in which our talented neighbour revealed himself as a master of doggerel. It fell to Ros Simpson to reply on behalf of the Lassies, keen not to let the side down.

To round off an evening of worthy tributes to the Bard of Ayrshire, the assembled company descended into a fitting sing-along, offering questionable renditions of such Scots standards as ‘The Skye Boat Song’, ‘Donald Where’s Yer Troosers?’ and ‘Ye Cannae Shove Yer Grannie Aff A Bus’…

How we managed to dance Strip the Willow and the Gay Gordons after all that is anyone’s guess.

What a fitting homage to the Bard of Ayrshire, who in his short 37-year life, fathered 12 children, wrote 559 songs and poems, inspired the work of John Steinbeck and Bob Dylan and had a ship – the Cutty Sark – named after a character in his poem ‘Tam O’ Shanter’. Burns in his life celebrated manhood, freedom and brotherhood  – a legacy which should always be celebrated with gusto.

Just to add the ‘gravy’ to the Haggis, this Burns Supper raised some £1200, a bonny sum indeed.

Burns Night was celebrated again in Amberley on 19 January, and raised almost £1,200 for the ACTnow Church Tower Appeal.  Over 50 of us tucked into the traditional meal of haggis, neeps and tatties in the Church Hall.

The haggis was addressed by our resident Scot, Ian Galbraith, a brilliant toast To the Lassies was delivered by Richard Robinson, with a great reply by Ros Simpson. Bob Middleton recited To a Mouse, while Ian gave a rendition of Tam o Shanter, with stormy participation by the audience.

A quartet of singers – Frances Hancock, Ginny Airey, Richard Robinson and Jeff Feakins – accompanied again by Tony Hancock on piano provided a lively and polished performance of Scots songs. The audience participated on several, concluding with Auld Lang Syne.  The evening ended with enthusiastic Scottish country dancing.

rs/Feb 2019