Blog Update March 2015

Perform in Dumfries Report for web
Perform In Dumfries – Recitation in Scots Verse Competition was held in the Academy on 7th March 2015.

As the Howff club are one of the sponsors for ‘Perform in Dumfries’, David Smith and I were asked to present prizes of a trophy and a fine hard back copy of Burns’ Kilmarnock Edition. The howff club actually sponsored the winners of the P6-P7 age group and I was delighted to present the winner’s prize to a young gentleman called Euan Paterson from Sanquhar who delighted us with a very animated version of ‘A lament for a lost dinner ticket’.

I must say it was nice to present a prize that, didn’t require a password, didn’t require the purchase of an extended warranty agreement, was sensibly priced and came with a lifetime guarantee!

All the kids that performed were most entertaining and importantly seemed to enjoy what they were doing! A very pleasant morning!

John Clark

Ian Landles at Burns Howff Clubroom

Lecture by Ian Landles
Burns’ Border Tour no 2 – Ian Landles
On the 26th March 2015, a full house, welcomed retired History Teacher Ian Landles from Hawick, to the club room. Well known ‘Borderer’ Ian, giving the second and much anticipated lecture on Burns’ Borders Tour brought Burns’ travels to life in a most informative and amusing fashion. Punctuated with photographs and other illustrations he infused the lecture with his own highly original sense of humour including a lengthy and hilarious song on the virtues of eating ‘Caldwell’s Ice Cream ‘ a much sought after delicacy from Innerleithen. To rapturous applause Ian’s lecture concluded a most enjoyable series of well attended lectures.

Visit to Devil’s Porridge
The last away day trip in the club’s programme is the visit arranged on Thursday 30th April 2015 to the Devil’s Porridge Museum (wartime munitions factory)at Eastriggs. Details of this will be issued shortly and numbers taken at the pre AGM meeting held on 13th April 2015.

President’s Blog March 2015

Lecture By Colin H McQueen 2015

President’s Blog – March 2015 – Club Lectures

Would Burns have made a good Vet? – Colin Hunter McQueen
At the recent library night (organised by our intrepid Hon. Librarian), Gordon Johnstone introduced Colin Hunter McQueen from Glasgow who presented to the club an impressive display of Burns related letters, relics and artefacts from his own private collection. Reading from a thesis by scholar Prof Sharpe, he gave a lecture on Burns’ veterinary skills which gave positive credence to the question whether Burns could have pursued a career as a Vet. A most enjoyable lecture from a very knowledgeable gentleman and avid Burnsian.

Ellisland Soiree Feb 2015 Presentation to Les Byers

Les Byers receives a portrait from President John Clark

On Saturday 28th Feb 2015 a fine body of men gathered to pay homage to one of the Burns Howff Club’s most popular members. It was remarked that Les was well kent as a ‘Global entertainer of some distinction ‘ Les was presented with an original drawing, mug and fine bottle of Malt whisky in appreciation of all the work he has done over the years for the club and in respect of his pending retirement from Ellisland Farm. A tasty supper of soup was followed by Haggis/Chicken pie ceremoniously piped in with due aplomb by Calum Watson and addressed with a special poem created for the evening. Mushy peas were added and a sumptuous cheese board was washed down with copious amounts of wine and whisky which kick started the singing. Fine accordion playing and piping was provided by Lee McQueen and Calum McQueen. Recitations were given by Gordon Johnston and singing was provided by Les, David Miller, Colin Gibson, Danny Cook and myself. A most ambient evening was enjoyed by all present and compliments must go to the hosts Les and May for providing such a tasty supper. Jokes were provided by Bert Hastings, Calum and David Smith (the famous Lions joke)!!
A braw night in good company.Best wishes to Les who still has quite a few miles left in the tank yet!!

Tae a ‘Haggis’ Pie
Now some wad boast o high cuisine
pheasant , quail wi whisky cream
I hear them sigh
let’s no forget the pleasures guid
and virtues o that simple feed
the haggis pie.

Wee crusty Haggis Pie
I look at you and fondly sigh
when I’ve been hunger’d.
Hoo many times ye’ve got me by
when I’ve been
weel an truly scunnered.

Hoo clever is that tasty crust?
frae pastry lid, it upwards thrusts
tae tempt an tease-
leavin a receptacle , purpose built
tae harness delicacies, such as pickles
chips,(wae HP sauce) and mushy peas!

There was a time, some smugly state
ye wer’nae worthy o’ a plate
It’s sad but true- Some toffs remark
that such a piece o meat
A mongrel dog wad loathe tae eat
In fact its presence
wad barely make it in a stew.

But frae Scotia’s deepest past
when hunger pangs, lang months wad last
an’ death, frae malnutrition loomed
necessity decreed that each wee scrap o meat
ere cut frae hoof, or tap o heid
wad be consumed.

An’ frae the darkness o depression
‘necessity’, the mother o’ invention did quietly form
an’ so it was, through process of progression
and sadly, centuries o’ indigestion
the simple haggis pie……..was born!

An tho’ its simple ‘saunsy’ face
on royal tables rarely grace
it’s nae surprise, tae be informed……………..
thanks tae Kerr Little’s skilful hands
this simple pie, wi chicken twists
and floury wrists
has been transformed!!!

So thanks must go tae Les and May
for their hospitality
so cronies, rise!
and raise oor glasses in a toast
tae sing the praises of oor hosts
in paying homage tae the haggis……
King O’ Mealy Pies!!

John Clark

President’s Blog

Elaine Kennedy Report 2015
Elaine Kennedy Feb 2015 Winter Lecture 0n ‘Maria Riddell’.
On Thursday 26th of Feb 2015 about 26 members and guests were thoroughly entertained with an engrossing lecture on Maria Riddell – close friend of Robert Burns. Elaine gave a thought provoking account of Maria’s life not just during Burns’ life but after his death. She touched on how difficult it was in Burns’ day for even highly intelligent women to be accepted professionally, academically and intellectually on the same level as men. As well as covering interesting correspondence between Burns, the Riddell family and the well documented falling out between Riddell and Burns, Elaine delved into the travels of a young woman who did not shy away from adventure giving accounts of skirmishes with pirates and white slavers off the coast of Africa on route to the West Indies. Of Burns’ attraction to members of the fairer sex and their attraction to him it’s understandable why the relationship between Burns and Maria Riddell was perceived in later years by some to be more than platonic. From portraits taken, she was certainly a most beautiful and sophisticated young woman who warmed to his attentions. It is easy to understand how Burns would have been captivated by her many charms. Elaine Kennedy, former curator of Dumfries Museum and the Robert Burns Centre currently works as an editor and historian gave a most interesting and enjoyable lecture on an influential figure in Burns’ life.

The winter lectures this year without exception have been enjoyable and stimulating. The club looks forward to the next and final lecture in the programme on the 26th March up in the clubroom 7.30pm when Ian Landles gives us what promises to be a fun filled evening with his Burns Border Tour Part 2. One not to be missed.

Elaine Kennedy and John Clark
(President Burns Howff Club)

Charnwood 2015

A full house of residents and staff (around 60) greeted the top table with some enthusiasm for the annual Burns Supper at Charnwood Lodge in Dumfries. Someone remarked it was a good job we were wearing howff ID as apart for the youthful Lee McQueen, we may have been kept in! Proceedings opened with Calum Watson piping in the haggis which was duly addressed by myself. After a tasty supper and generous hospitality , a brief immortal memory was given by myself, followed by a humorous toast tae the lassies by the multi talented Calum Watson. Lee McQueen provided music on the accordion and Bill gave us some fine singing. Gordon gave a short recitation. Looking round it was obvious the residents were having fun and we were duly thanked after a rousing Auld Lang Syne which closed proceedings. Congratulations must go to the staff of Charnwood for providing hospitality and putting so much work into the Burns Supper table décor. A grand day out for residents, staff and all present.

John Clark
President Burns Howff Club

Five Arches Burns Supper

Five Arches Burns Supper President’s Report for Blog
On Friday 6th Feb 2015 the Burns Howff Club were well represented in the annual Burns Supper held at the Five Arches in Dumfries. To an eager reception, the top table was piped in expertly by Don Wylie. Despite heroic attempts ( by me) to circumnavigate the whole pub it was decided to take the path of least resistance to the top table which brought much hilarity and some sighs of relief to guests and speakers alike. As Phil Robertson was unable to fulfill his usual role in the chair due to urgent business on the ‘High Seas’, the evening was ably chaired by first reserve Ian Sneddon with a little help from GJ. After grace, the haggis was addressed, a wee bit rustilly I must confess, by myself. The evening soon got into full swing however with songs from Ian MacIntyre, myself, recitations from Avril Kerr, Les Byers and some fine accordion playing from Lee McQueen.

The Five Arches's photo.

Five Arches Burns Supper 2015 tastefully decorated by the hosts Phil and Jill and staff.

A most entertaining and illuminating immortal memory was given by the irreplaceable Les Byers who later in the evening went on to delight the company with not only a faultless Tam O’Shanter but a hugely entertaining Holy Wullie, complete with gown, nightcap and candle. Les, you are a true star!!

The other main speakers of the evening were all equally entertaining with our own Calum Watson relinquishing his pipes for a lectern, giving a very polished and hilarious ‘toast tae the lassies’ which had us falling off our seats with mirth – well done Calum! A giant in a wee man’s shoe!!

SNP Candidate for DFS and Galloway, Emma Harper brought a touch of sophistication to the evening, with a well constructed and humorous reply on behalf of the lassies. After missionary work in St Petersburg, Gordon Johnstone was in storming form as he donned wig and robes to give a thunderous ‘court of equity’ and which was followed with an equally thunderous and hilarious ‘toast tae the cronies’ later in the evening. With further music from Ian and humorous recitations from the briilliant Avril Kerr, the night drew to a close with a rousing Auld Lang Syne! Phil and Jill Robertson and her staff must be commended (as hosts) for decorating the Arches in traditional Scottish Style and provided a rather tasty three course meal for a very modest sum. It was very pleasing to see familiar faces in the audience who had travelled some distance to catch an authentic Burns Supper.  Congratulations also to Gordon Johnston  for organising the event.  In summary, happy memories to share and a good night had by all!

John Clark
(President Burns Howff Club)


126th Anniversary Supper Globe Inn Dumfries


President’s Report on The Anniversary Supper 26/01/2015

A full house crowded into the Globe Inn on Monday 26th January 2015 to enjoy the club’s 126th Anniversary Supper. When introducing the top table and guests it was my great pleasure to ask the members to be upstanding to applaud the Hon Sec David Smith on being awarded the BEM in the New Years Hons List. To a man all stood and congratulated the Hon Sec on his award. Modestly David accepted the applause and gave a brief response on this unexpected but fully deserved honour.

It was great to see John Caskie back in the fold in great form and sporting a new hairstyle. He did not disappoint with the opening song ‘There was a lad….! Grace before dinner was rendered by Dan Cook and after a fine bowl of broth, the haggis was piped in style by our club piper Calum Watson and addressed by myself. Apologies for the little senior moment during the address but I managed to recover sufficiently to allow proceedings to continue. A fine meal was served by the Globe. After the loyal toast and a beautiful rendering of ‘Aye Waukin Oh‘ by John Caskie the evening progressed with a selection of Scottish favourites by James Coutts and Ian Kirkpatrick.

It was recorded that a very generous £135 was collected for the Globe Staff in thanking them for the speedy and excellent service. After greetings were read by the Hon Sec the much anticipated Immortal Memory was given by Fraser Sanderson. With no notes Fraser gave an outstanding immortal memory that was entertaining, well researched and expertly delivered. After a lament on the pipes by Calum Watson, John Caskie had the whole company singing with a rousing version of A Man’s a Man! Fraser was presented with a certificate conferring honorary membership in thanking him for a most excellent immortal memory.

Burns Howff Club Anniversary Supper 2015

The incorrigible Bobby Jess then gave an expertly delivered and faultless Tam O Shanter to a most enthusiastic crowd. After some more Scottish airts on fiddle and accordion by the brilliant duo Coutts and Kirkpatrick the second principal speaker Niven Rennie toasted ‘the lassies Oh’ and had us rolling in the isles with a selection of bawdy jokes and repartee. An inscribed tankard was presented to Niven as a memento of the evening.

It was nice to see our friends, President George Dunwoody and past President Joe Platt down from Dumbarton Burns Club and they were given a warm reception by the members. Calum Watson showed his prowess on the pipes with an impromptu performance and a surprise recitation from the mystery entertainer Jim Mc Cambley had us all in stitches with a hilarious ‘Drunk Man’s Address tae the Haggis’ Further rousing songs from John Caskie and Bill Welsh led the evening to a close with some community singing. JVP William Johnston gave a comprehensive vote of thanks and the evening concluded with a rousing version of Auld Lang Syne. A most enjoyable evening which concluded a little earlier than anticipated which allowed a little more time at the bar for those who stayed on for a wee dram. A grand night of mirth and merriment!

John Clark

(President Burns Howff Club)