January 25, 2011

Burns night

John Ray

All around the world people celebrate the birthday of Scotland's greatest poet on 25th January, and I have been doing that since sometime in the '70s. There is no other poet who attacts that devotion but if you have got any of the sentimental Celt in you, you just have to read his most famous poems to see why.

I had just a small gathering, as my entertaining area is quite small. It is a verandah that gets lots of good breezes, important in the midst of a sub-tropical summer. I had over my son and stepson (Joe and Paul), plus old friends Jill and Lewis. Paul's admirable wife plus Anne and myself completed the party.

I managed to get some very fresh neeps (Swedes) for the dinner this year and Anne is good at cooking them anyway so that really helped the dinner. I got the haggis from "Syd's Pies" as usual and it was excellent as usual. Syd is a brilliant cook. Paul was particularly enthusiastic about the haggis and proved it by eating up all the leftovers.

We had three desserts: Tablet, some very light shortbread and clootie dumpling. Anne did a great rum sauce to go with the clootie dumpling.

As usual I skipped a few of the customs but we did most of them. Saying Grace and the loyal toast are a bit old-fasioned these days so I made sure I did both of those customs. The Grace was of course the Selkirk Grace and a toast to the Queen is entirely appropriate in Australia, considering that she is Australia's Head of State.

I flew the saltire of St. Andrew from my flagpole in honour of the day and wore the kilt. In recognition of the climate, I teamed the kilt with an Hawaiian shirt!

The conversation was largely about politics. Luckily we are all on the conservative side of that divide. I did at one stage tell the remarkable story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi and pointed out how thoroughly it undermines the conventional hysteria about ionizing radiation.

And it was a very traditional Scottish occasion in that the men just sat around and pontificated while the women did all the work! I try to give my son Joe a good example!

About to carve the haggis

Two views of dessert time

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