Barry Graham Lecture -23rd Oct 2014- President’s Notes

Barry Graham – Winter Lecture – President’s Comments 23rd October 2014
Maintaining the club’s high standard of guest speakers, Dumfries businessman, Barry Graham kept members captivated by giving his audience a colourful glimpse of South African life in the former British Colony of Rhodesia. Growing up in Salisbury, the capital city of Rhodesia, he described an idyllic life of privilege funded by successful (property developer) parents. He also painted a darker side of growing up in the state (now Zimbabwe) as a result of apartheid.
The club has seen many talented musicians over the years but this was the first occasion the sound of African drums and tribal folksong reverberated through the clubroom! Barry an accomplished flautist, drummer and singer kept us entertained with fascinating accounts of life in the capital city and occasional moments of madness with tales of village Shamans and African superstitions! His love of South Africa was clear by the enthusiasm in the delivery of his music and song. His love of the Dumfries area was also evident as he asked if he could be adopted as a Doonhamer! He was given a unanimous thumbs up on the understanding he became a Q.O.S supporter!!
The talk was thoroughly enjoyable and I have no doubt that Barry will remain high on the list of Howff Club preferred speakers. I must remember also if ever I am in South Africa, never to remove stones from under anyone’s bed!!!! ……………..

John Clark

President’s comments on Shipping in the Solway

Report on shipping in the Solway David Colin

Shipping on the Solway – Winter Lecture – by David Collin


On Thursday 25th September 2014, the Howff club hosted the first lecture of the Winter programme. Those who attended the last lecture by David in 2012 may have been forgiven for thinking that the subject would have to be something special to match the last lecture given on ‘the Prince of Denmark’ which recounted the building, sailing and adventures of a schooner and those who sailed on it, built in Kirkcudbright in the 18th Century. A full house were not disappointed when David embarked on a fascinating account of shipping on the Solway, the many ports and characters that sailed the high seas and coastal waters. Informative, at times hilarious, David’s lecture gave fascinating detail not only of times long past, cargoes, log entries but more current accounts of hapless sailors and oddball rescues which had the audience in kinks. At the end of the lecture we were given David’s first hand account of the infamous 1960’s murder at Ross Island Lighthouse which had as on the edge of our seat. David and his father inadvertently stumbling on a scene reminiscent of an Agatha Christie, Murder Mystery and Suspense novel. David, an accomplished sailor and historian, is a published author of several books on sailing and all things pertaining to Kirkcudbright.

Next Lecture will be held I the clubroom on 23rd October 2014 when Barry Graham will be giving a talk on Rhodesia.   All lectures start at 7.30pm prompt.

John Clark

The show goes on again

4th August, meeting of the Jean Armour Statue subcommittee. Two quotes obtained for the proposed inscriptions. Submitted an alternative for one single line of acknowledgements rather that a list of names but it was agreed to recommend full list to Excom.

11th August, trial club discussion night when members were asked to raise favourite pieces from Burns’ for a chat. Good turn-out, especially from new members and lively discussion. Gordon hopes to make this a regular event. Ted Murray’s sister, Ann, visited Dumfries on 14th August and was met in the Globe for lunch by Frank Manson, Tom Johnstone and Gordon Johnston and the writer, followed by a visit to the JA Statue to view the memorial bench in memory of Ted. Ann again expressed thanks for the club’s help.  Accompanied Gordon and Betty Johnston to Locharbriggs Community Centre on 15th August for a demonstration of Scottish Country Dancing with music from James Coutts Band, MC’d by the genial John Caskie. Was successful in the raffle for a change.

The annual outing on Saturday 16th August was most enjoyable and well organised. 14 members and friends travelled by the customary luxury minibus to Glasgow to the Riverside Museum and then  Kelvingrove Gallery. This was well covered in the President’s blog, suffice to add that the Haggis Pie at lunch and the fish supper at Moffat were highlights of a super day.

Tuesday 19th August was the delayed club booling night when members were joined by Gavin Findlay from Dumbarton who was holidaying at Gatehouse. In spite of his best efforts, Gavin won the coveted “Draffan Cup” with Gordon McKerrow who was at pains to encourage Gavin to take it back to Dumbarton. Thanks due to Dumfries Bowling Club and Ken Crookshanks. At the prize giving at the Globe, the writer was surprised to be presented with a cake and bottle of superior malt by Jane Brown and the president on the occasion of a milestone birthday anniversary. This was much appreciated but do not propose to mark any further anniversaries.

Annual trip to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on 21st August. Smaller group than usual as Ian McIntyre had put his back out although not as a result of misconduct, he said. Fast train from Lockerbie got the party to Waverley at 9.30am. No Burns shows this year but the day was spent in soaking up the colourful atmosphere in the streets and the occasional pint. In order to escape a downpour, we scuttled into a venue off the Grassmarket for a show entitled, “Lie back and think of England”. This proved to be “Adult entertainment” by a one woman performance on “Sex education for beginners” using visual aids and some audience participation and was lapped up by the largely mature females present. Enough said. Good lunch in the White Hart and a great day out with Gordon and Neil Johnston. 23rd August was a visitation from Largs Burns Club who having received the ten cent tour on previous occasions, were pleased to see over the Globe and other locations and were delighted tom have access to the Mausoleum. A retired undertaker in the party was curious to know who conducted Burns’ funeral in 1796 so enquiries are ongoing.  The Ten Cent tour team are getting slicker.

Shocked and saddened at the news of the death of honorary member Harry Hutchison, “The Rover from Dover”. Have many happy memories of Harry at various Federation conferences and will be sadly missed. He delivered s stirring “Memory” at the Anniversary Dinner in 2007.

The Executive Committee met on 25th August after the summer recess and dealt with the lengthy agenda in short order. Was slightly surprised at the strong views expressed on the proposal to inscribe the donors names on the JA statue but it was unanimously agreed to take no action. Although I abstained from the vote, it was the right decision, I think.

Thursday 11th September, assisted Gordon J. to humph the Theatre Royal’s Burns Bust to Glasgow to the home of Colin Hunter McQueen. Made most welcome on arrival but had to cut the visit short as Gordon was due at the Velodrome. Most impressed with the building and facilities and astonished at Gordon’s prowess on two wheels. He knew everyone there, too. Betty kept me informed on what was going on.

The annual conference of the RBWF was held on 12th to 14th September at Irvine. The club was represented by Callum Watson, Ian McIntyre, David Miller and me accompanied by spouses as appropriate. The weekend was well organised and enjoyable and the accommodation at Menzies Hotel was adequate if not luxurious but notable for long endless corridors. The catering was of a reasonably high order. The AGM was uneventful but highlighted the dire state of the Federation finances. Incoming president Jim Thomson and the Board promised a twelve month plan to turn the situation around but suspect they are in the “Last Chance Saloon” with this.  Outgoing president Jane Brown made an emotional speech of thanks at the inaugural dinner and seemed reluctant to part with the Chain.  Social functions were enjoyable and your reporter to his horror, found himself on the dance floor but this after some scoops of the sauce.  A consolation was winning the second raffle prize of a voucher for next year’s conference fee. For once, attended the Church Service on Sunday morning which included some ceremonial at the end of the Irvine “Marymas Festival” and was attended by civic representatives as well as the MP and MSPs and local organisations but also the Marymas Queen and her three Marys. Lovely.  Met many old friends during the weekend.

Was obliged to attend the Tam O’ Shanter Competition on 16th September in the Globe. This was made bearable by the company of David Pool from Langholm. Six Tams strutted their stuff and the winner was one Bill Henry from London. Interval entertainment was supplied, eventually, by Ian McIntyre and Les Byers and the trophy was presented by David Miller in his role as President of the SSCBA.

One of my personal highlights is the annual bowling match with Dumbarton Burns Club. This year, the host was Dumbarton and 13 intrepid boolers made the journey north on Sunday 21st September to arrive 30 minutes late due to congestion at Brooms Road Car Park caused by showmen’s vehicles jamming the entrance. Members were warmly welcomed by President George Dunwoody and his members and play duly commenced in glorious sunshine. Inconsistent bowling from the non bowlers but suffice it to say that the result was declared a draw although it was really our turn to win. Trophies were exchanged and an excellent tea was consumed before departure at 5.30pm. Excellent day out with generous hospitality amongst good friends.

The Winter Club Night season opened on 25th September when David Collin from Kirkcudbright gave a highly entertaining and informative talk on “Shipping in the Solway”.  A fascinating account of the region’s maritime history which David brought to life before ending with a sombre story of the Ross Island Lighthouse murder in 1959 in which, as a 19 year old student, he had a bit part. Encouragingly good attendance.

Skelmorlie Poosie Nancy Burns Club from Ayrshire visited on 27th September and arrived on time. Although a number chose to check out the shops or attend at the bar, most were welcomed by President John Clark, Jim McCambley, Ken McKinnon, Bill Welsh, John Lauder and the writer and conducted on the ten cent tour. Again, the visitors proved to be knowledgeable Burnsians and the visit was a pleasure.

Now, starting preparations for the Excom meeting on 6th October  and  the October Newsletter.


Upadte August 2014

Presidents Blog August Update 2

September is the month Scotland vote either ‘aye or nae!’ to independence. I’ve a feeling the vote will be a lot closer than people think. How would Robert Burns have voted if he were alive today? Perhaps the lyrics of Scots Wha Hae might answer that or maybe Burns’ view would have changed with the centuries. Politics in Burns’ day was very different to the political freedoms we enjoy today. In Burns’ day the right to vote was granted only to the privileged, with women completely ignored! Would a 21st Century Burns have embraced the Union or been a champion of independence? Would he have entered into politics and stood as an MSP??? He would certainly have made a charismatic politician with his charm, sharp wit and social conscience. It could be argued the presence of Robert Burns in any 21st century political party would be a vote clincher. I’ve a feeling he would have penned a suitable and damning poem on recent expenses and banking scandals. Would you vote for Robert Burns…………….. damn right!!

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The Draffan Cup 19th August
Scotland has been in the press lately for many great sporting events. Commonwealth games, the coming Ryder Cup to name but two. Aft overlooked and older than both of these events the Draffan Cup is competed for every year by Howff Club members and guests in a prestigious green bowling competition held in Dumfries. No great skill is demanded from participants in fact it is commonly thought the less skill you have the better chance you have of winning. It is thought bad luck to clean the cup and so it passes year in year out to the winners in a state of wanton neglect. Although it is dull and morbidly grey to look at, it does bring a smile to all those who compete for it. So it was, that 20 hardy souls took to the greens at Newall Terrace in Dumfries for the annual competition. In a closely fought competition where the occasional stray bool headed for the wrong jack ( apologies to those serious bowlers out there) a tense final was played out as the sun set low in the West, between none other than David Smith (the silver fox) Frank Manson and the eventual winners Gavin Finley (Dumbarton) and Gordon McKerrow. Thanks to Kenny Crookshanks for hosting the event and keeping us suitably refreshed at the bar!!

Disaster was averted by the wily D Smith when at the prize giving (held at the Globe Inn) the Draffan cup could not be found! A suitable replacement was procured by David and was presented. Even though the substitute cup came in two distinct broken pieces it was gratefully accepted by the jubilant winners until the priceless Draffan was eventually located! G Templeton offered to glue the broken cup and this was unanimously accepted. The evening was a resounding success with a tasty supper of pies and peas provided by Ma Broon! (Yum!) By chance the evening coincided with the 70th birthday of our Hon Sec. David Smith who was presented with a cake, a fine bottle of Malt Whiskey and a card. Lang may yer Lum Reek David!!


Presidents Blog Aug 2 2014

President’s Blog Update 20/08/2014

Since the last blog I am pleased to report I’m am now firing on all 4 cylinders and raring to go. Much as happened in the last month. Glorious weather made the Brow Well annual tribute a truly memorable event and ensured a exceptionally good turn out. David Miller (current president of the SSCBA) presided over the ceremony eloquently and Jane Brown, as ceding president of the RBWF gave a stirring oration to the bard. The Rev Gerald Moule led the devotions and Pipe Major Calum Watson (in full highland dress) played the pipes magnificently ’neath the swirling saltires and added a touch of class to the occasion. SVP, Mike Duguid, of the SSCBA gave the vote of thanks to conclude the ceremony. I was given the honour of chaperoning a couple of visiting Burnsians from New Zealand to the event and gave them an impromptu tour of Glencaple, Kingholm Harbour and the Whitesands on the way to a sumptuous buffet at the Cairndale Hotel. They were a lovely couple who enjoyed themselves immensely and even contributed to the evening’s entertainment with a rather delightful poem. The evening was hosted by John Caskie who kept things running smoothly. The entertainment was braw with contributions by John Caskie, Bill Welsh, Ian McIntyre, Sandy Mclelland, Lee McQueen, Avril Kerr and others whose names I know but just for the moment can’t remember!!

Outing to Transport Museum and Kelvingrove Art Gallery Glasgow Sunday 16th August
On the 16th August a hardy bunch of howffers headed up the M74 to a windswept and rather sodden Glasgow to experience the delights of two of the best museums in the UK. The award winning transport museum was simply outstanding and my first impression was that of standing in a giant toy shop built specifically for adults. Trams, buses, steam trains, cars, bikes, ships and boats….. held up on giants plinths, screwed to the floor, bolted to the wall, some four deep -phew!! Combined with a free guided tour and culminating in possibly the nicest haggis pie I have ever tasted in my life it was an absolute joy! The only disappointment was not being able to board the (clipper) tall masted ship (moored at the ‘Quay’) due to a wedding party. A good reason to revisit the museum again? – definitely! There were some interesting Kodak Moments during our visit and I’m sure, in time, photographic evidence will materialise on the web of a wonderful day out.

After lunch we headed onwards and upwards covering the short distance to Kelvingrove Art Gallery which holds one of the most diverse art collections in the world. The building itself is rather grand and does not disappoint with its exhibits. The gallery is not solely for fine art lovers. Each gallery within the main building holds a separate themed exhibition with Dinosaurs to stuffed Elephants, there’s even a full size Spitfire hanging from the ceiling. The fine art exhibits that do hang are simply fabulous. From Glasgow Boys to impressionists, grand masters to surrealists there is an eclectic mix of wonderful paintings. The famous and surprisingly small Naysmith portrait of Robert Burns is almost lost amid a host of mighty Raeburns and other notable portrait painters. Again, we were taken on a guided tour by a very knowledgeable lady guide who kept us engaged without ever boring us with irrelevant data. Difficult to pick out a favourite amongst so many beauties but Salvador Dali’s ‘Christ of St John on the Cross’ and Rembrandt’s Roman Soldier were breathtaking! After liquid refreshment we headed South to Moffat where we sampled the culinary delights of a local chippie. Sheltering from the rain in a bus shelter we mused on what a great day out it was and merrily headed off home. Thanks must go to one David Smith for organising the event and booking the guided tours which added much intellectual value to the proceedings!

John Clark 24/08/14