Burns an aw’ that
2ND January brought the news of the death of honorary member Davie Shankland. David, who proposed the “Immortal Memory” at the Anniversary Dinner in 1979, had been in failing health for some time and his passing brings an era to an end as his like will never be seen again. A period of silence in his memory was marked at the start of the Executive Committee meeting on 9th January. Thursday 12th, off to Kirkcudbright to Broughton House for an “Evening wi’ Burns”. This featured Leona Evans and others in a programme of music and songs in the magnificent hall with Hornel’s Japanese ladies looking down from the walls. Due to a misunderstanding, David Baird was inadvertently left at Dumfries but Gordon J. and David Miller enjoyed a night to remember. Saturday 14th, to the Crichton Memorial Kirk to David Shankland’s funeral. The church was unsurprisingly packed and the service which was almost non religious, contained tributes from William Williamson, John Glover and Ian Landles, from Hawick. At the conclusion, the company spontaneously rose and applauded as the coffin was carried out of the church to the strains of “Auld Lang Syne”. Time for a nibble at the Easterbrook Hall before proceeding to the Globe with Mr. McIntyre to meet Mark Zygadlo, to discuss his proposals to appear at the Anniversary Dinner as “Robert Burns”. This was agreed to be impractical but the possibility of the Jean Armour Dinner was mooted. Friday 20th, out to the Deerhunter at Sanquhar by luxury minibus for the Sanquhar Black Joan Burns Supper. This was good in parts. The return journey took forever to go round the houses before fetching up at Cargenbridge at a late hour. The following evening, a most enjoyable Burns Supper at Friars Carse for the hotel guests. President Frank occupied the Chair and addressed the haggis. Ian McIntyre delivered a thoughtful and informative “Memory” and Gordon J. brought the house down with the “Lasses, O” ably replied to by Jean McMillan-Forster with contributions from Bill Welsh, John Lauder, David Miller, Lee McQueen and Callum Watson. The club’s 123rd Anniversary Dinner in the Globe Inn on 25th January was outstanding with a super toast from Len Murray, one of the best and most moving in years.
The guest artistes and members who contributed made for a night of pure magic which will long be remembered (for several reasons) The company numbered 90 and all credit to John Caskie for constructing a faultless seating plan. The meal was good too and President Frank conducted the proceedings with great style and finished on time. Earlier, accompanied President Frank to the odd ceremony at Burns Statue where members of Dumfries Burns Club and others attempted to lay a wreath and school pupils recited against the noise of traffic. At the Commemorative Service at St. Michael’s Church, assisted to welcome dignitaries and joined the presidential group to the Mausoleum to place the wreath on behalf of Dumbarton Burns Club whose delegates could not be present. Much impressed with the Service, choreographed by John Caskie as secretary of the SSCBA. Friday 27th, off to Dumbarton to attend the Dumbarton Burns Club’s Burns Supper, en route, called at Hamilton to present Matt Sempie with his Honorary Membership certificate. The supper in the Masonic Temple in Alexandria, was excellent with good company, a superb meal and a memorable address from President Gavin Findlay. Frank was seated at the top table and brought fraternal greetings from the Howff Club. Overnight accommodation at Tullie Inn, Balloch was fleeting but the breakfast was all one could wish for. Missed the Dumfries Big Burns Supper but heard reports from various venues. The club’s annual Burns Supper for the residents of Charnwood Lodge was both successful and enjoyable. President Frank gave a brief but moving “Memory” and Godfrey Bedford’s toast to the “Lasses, o” was polished and witty. A highlight was Ian McIntyre’s ditties to his guitar accompaniment which was much appreciated. Last year’s decision to cut back on long orations and concentrate on songs and music seems to have paid off. Thanks are due to Bill Welsh, Dan Cook, Gordon J., Callum Watson and Lee McQueen. Thanks also to Tesco’s Stores Ltd, Dumfries, for kindly sponsoring oatcakes, shortbread and drinks. Friday 3rd February, out to the Buccleuch Centre, Langholm to “Honest Poverty”, a show by the Ideoms Theatre company from the Borders, a lively romp through the poet’s works at Mossgeil and Poosie Nancies with much hilarity and great audience participation and a meal of haggis, tatties and neeps. Privileged to accompany John Caskie and Neil and William Johnston. The following day, out at the crack of dawn to Dumfries Academy to help with the Schools Competitions. Another fantastic offering of superb singing, recitation and instrumental playing. The standard just gets higher and higher. Excellent hot soup from the ladies of the Ladies Burns Club. That night, out to Ellisland to the annual Friends of Ellisland Burns Supper. On arrival, found a power cut in progress and thanks due to the resourcefulness of Neil Johnston that portable lights were quickly set up. Before power was restored at 8.10pm, Moir Nelson from Dumbarton had managed to set fire to his programme by a candle. As there was no heating at first, it was perishingly cold but the “Immortal Memory” from Alex Fergusson MSP was first class followed by a remarkable toast to the Lasses. John Caskie raised the tone with his choice of songs and Avril Kerr proved again that she is one of the best Burns reciters in the district.
The Burns season for 2012 is about over.