Thursday, January 26, 2017

Burns Night at Tonbridge Auld Fire Station....

Last night I had the great honour of saying grace, addressing the haggis, and reading, nae performing, some Robbie Burns poetry at the Auld Fire Station. Not once did anyone mention the obvious joke about burns at a fire station. At least they'd have been able to put it out quickly!
If you've never been to a Burns supper then you should take the opportunity as they are increasingly common even as far south of the Border as Kent. Chef Russell, of Kitchen of Kent,did us proud with a four course meal of Scottish fayre. What a feast it was with the highlight, of course, being the Haggis & neeps. The "great chieftain of the puddin' race" was ceremoniously carried in by the chef on a silver tray and I, an unworthy Sassanach surely, was given the honour of addressing it and hacking it wi' a knife. Whilst this would have almost certainly been a lynching offence in Glasgow I really did give it my best shot and hopefully would've made even the great man, Robert Burns, himself proud. I have a confession though as I did cheat a little by performing a hybrid of the real version and the Anglicised translation. I think I just about got away with it even among the kilt-wearing, diehard Scots of which there were several present. For one night only I thoroughly enjoyed being Markie McBooks. You can tak' ma books but you'll never tak' ma freedom! Ladies and Gentleman, both Scots and Sassanachs: The Haggis!

Addressing the Haggis (Markie McBooks Version!)

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 worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
And cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm reekin, rich!

Then spoon for spoon, the stretch and strive:
Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
Till all their well swollen bellies by-and-by
Are bent like drums;
Then old guidman, most like to burst,
Be-thank-it hums.

Is there that over his French ragout,
Or olio that would sicken a sow,
Or fricassee would make her spew
Wi' perfect scunner,
Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On such a dinner?

Poor devil! see him over his trash,
As feeble as a withered rush,
His thin legs a good whip-lash,
His fist a nut;
Through bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit.

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his ample fist a blade,
He'll make it whistle;
And legs, and arms, and heads will sned
Like taps o' thistle.

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 grateful prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

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