The Torch is Past

The RBWF Annual Conference and AGM took place over the weekend of 6th, 7th and 8th September.
The venue, the aptly named refurbished Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. The hotel was perfectly situated, a mere shuffle from Central Station. The rooms were of a high quality, although the corridors were reminiscent of the film from Stephen King’s book, “The Shining”….where was John Lauder going with that axe..? The Champagne Bar was the meeting place for the usual rag, tag and bobtail gether up that is the Howff Club. Application forms were available for bank loans to settle the bar tabs! It was heartening to see so many weel kent faces there to support Jane’s finest hour.
Friday nights “Informal Dinner” in the Ballroom saw us treated to fine dining and a wonderful after dinner performance of “Clarinda”. The company was convivial and the wine and conversation flowed and we were treated to “turns” from delegates and from our own Lee McQueen, accompanied by Kirsty and Colin from the Globe Inn.
The partying went on until the wee sma’ hours with tales of Jane Brown and Bertie entertaining in their sarks.
Saturday saw an uneventful if drawn out AGM with Dr. Peter Hughes being elected as Junior Vice President. General consensus is that Gordon Jamieson would be welcome to throw his hat in the ring again next year.
Howffers met after the AGM to repair to McSorley’s Pub in Jamaica Street for a bite to eat and a sherbert or two. The lunch was of an extremely high order and afterwards, we were treated to a session of traditional jazz from an epileptic band, which included John Lauder’s brother on American Cornet. We were joined by Mr and Mrs Johnston, Gordon fresh from another sporting achievement. A silver medal was won by our Librarian who just missed out on gold in the European Championship. He also missed out on the World Record by 0.45 of a second. Well done Gordon. You are among athletes of some prowess.
Saturday night was the “set piece” of the weekend and it never ceases to amaze me how well the Howffers scrub up. The Hon. Secy. even had matching shoes. On the right feet.
We were treated to a drinks reception before dinner by the Lord Provost of Glasgow. He failed to appear, clearly had some inside information. However, he was represented by one of his Baillies.
Retiring president Bob Stewart bestowed the Chain of Office on Jane who gave a very moving and emotional inaugural speech.
It must be said that Bob Stewart has been a marvellous president and has navigated the RBWF through stormy waters over the year. It has been a pleasure to know him and he will be missed.
Jane will bring her own style and , as she pointed out, there were now two women at the helm of the Federation.
Jane had a large “rent a crowd” to support her on Saturday night, including her family, the McKerrows and John Howietson. John offered to refashion Les Byers’ thatch prior to dinner. He politely declined, saying that he preferred to live in the past. At dinner, we were joined by Hector Davidson of London Burns Club, a close friend of Gordon and David.
Once again, the food was superb but with 220 people in the ballroom, service was inevitably slow. By the time the various toasts and fund raisers were concluded, we were well past 11.00pm. This meant we had limited entertainment from our old friends Andy Kain and Craig Paton. They are a marvellous talent.
At the end of dinner, Mr. Smith claimed his drink had been spiked and he retired to his bed “no weel”. He was later heard calling for “Hughie” on the big white telephone in the cludgie.
Saturday night concluded with a party in Mrs. Brown’s room which I gather went on until cock crow.
A bleary eyed busload set off for Glasgow Cathedral on Sunday morning where a very personal service was conducted by Dr. Lawrence Whitley, the Minister. The cathedral which dates back to the 11th century was a playground during construction for Hon. Member Wilson Ogilvie.
All in all, a very successful and enjoyable weekend. Hon. Member Len Murray QC was able to arrange bail for errant members first thing Monday.
I. McI (with apologies)

Autumn Mists

Friday 16th August, off to Edinburgh with David Miller, Ian McIntyre and Gordon and Neil Johnston for our annual visit to the Festival Fringe. Decided again to travel by train from Lockerbie and Gordon had the foresight to book seats as the 08.15 was packed. Welcome bacon butty at a cafe near the Waverley Station before shuffling round to Captains’ Bar near the Old University for the 11.00 show, “Burns and the Lassies” performed by Alan Foster with songs from Andy Chueng, the well known Chinese/ Scots folk singer. Allan spoke the narrative of Burns’ liaisons with various ladies throughout his life with musical illustrations from Andy. Very well done and enjoyable in an intimate venue which also had bar facilities. Excellent lunch at the ancient White Cockade in the Grassmarket, frequented by the poet, and absorbing the atmosphere in the streets with some outdoor acts and a variety of “street creatures” before wandering down Leith Walk to Valvonna & Crolla’s, an upmarket wine and delicatessen and met old friend and honorary member Ronnie Crichton. The show at 3.00pm at the back of the shop, was “Robert Burns Votes for Scotland” performed by Gill Bowman as Jean Armour and Mark Stephen as Robert Burns, set in the present and featured comments and opinions on Scotland “where she is”. Numerous barbed remarks from “Jean Armour” on her husband’s philandering and intriguing hints on which way Burns would vote in the independence referendum. At the end, the audience was asked to vote and this resulted in a definite, if a trifle unscientific, no. Enjoyed a jar with Ronnie before he caught the bus back to Balerno. Plenty of time before the train at 8.12 so decided to relax in the Guildford Arms, off St. Andrews Square. The return journey was uneventful but made the mistake of not pumping the bilges on the train expecting that the toilet at Lockerbie Station would suffice but neither it, or the public toilet were open and it was only 9.15pm. A veil is drawn over the subsequent event. Apart from that, a super day with lots of interest and the best of company. The following day, attended Ellisland with Mr. McIntyre to meet a party from Dumbarton Burns Club “doing” Dumfries. The visitors arrived on time and Les gave an absorbing talk on the history of the farm with many anecdotes and a viewing of the DVD in the Granary. As a result, the party were behind schedule on arriving at the Globe but were welcomed by John Clark , Dan Cook and Ken McKinnon. After soup and sannys, the ten cent tour was provided including a visit to the Mausoleum when one visitor commented that it looked like a phallic symbol. Anyway, a most enjoyable afternoon with the Dumbarton boys before their High Tea at 5.30pm. Tuesday 20th August, a meeting at the Globe Inn at 3.00pm with planning officials of the Council and reps of local Burns Clubs to hear the amended proposals for the Burns Statue vicinity. Forgetting the customary Council jargon, was reassured to some point and hope that the eventual outcome will enhance the iconic site with Greyfriars Kirk. The Executive Committee meeting on 26th August was good humoured and productive and the price established for the tickets of the season’s functions. Saturday 31st August, privileged to attend the Johnson family’s annual barbecue at their holiday home at Southerness. Superb hospitality and first class comestibles prepared by William and Neil in great company and clement weather.
I will not comment on the practical joke perpetrated by the immediate past president but he will hear shortly from my sillycitor.
Now looking forward to the RBWF annual conference at Glasgow when we will see the installation of our own Jane Brown as president for the ensuing year.

DS

 

 

DS