First engagement

John Clark – President Burns Howff Club  

Dear Members

My first ever Blog! Out of interest I looked up my trusty Chambers Thesaurus / Dictionary to see what the entry for blog would be and was surprised to see there was none!! The reason for this was my dictionary was published in 1995 and the term blog was not introduced into dialogue until 1999. Using the power of the internet I looked up the word blog and discovered enough information to choke a Clydesdale Horse several times over. I’ve printed a small extract below.


Early example of a “diary” style blog consisting of text and images transmitted wirelessly in real time from a wearable computer with head-up display, 22 February 1995

Main articles: History of blogging and online diary

The term “weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger[10] on 17 December 1997. The short form, “blog”, was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog in April or May 1999.[11][12][13] Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used “blog” as both a noun and verb (“to blog”, meaning “to edit one’s weblog or to post to one’s weblog”) and devised the term “blogger” in connection with Pyra Labs’ Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms.[14]

I’m not going to print chapter and verse on blogging as it is simpler to look it up on the internet. Suffice to say if you want to read more than my own humble little offerings why not join in the blog and post your own comments on the Burns Howff Club Website. You will need a password to gain access and this can be obtained from the web master Neil Johnston by e-mailing him on webmaster

The content of your Blog is entirely up to you but should have some relevance to our beloved Bard, the club, associated clubs or previous blogs. Happy Blogging!!


Burns Howff Club AGM

This is new territory for me (in the chair) and apart from a little first night nerves I think things went pretty smoothly. The real test is in the months to come and hopefully I can be a worthy President. I was struck by the warmth afforded to me at the end of the evening by all present and welcome on board the new- ex committee members Billy Graham and Russell Williamson. The night concluded with a cracker of a Chinese Meal up at Garden of Eden in English St Dumfries and a small libation or three to wash it all down!! I am lucky to have such an experienced senior ex- council to keep me on track.

 Coldstream – my first official engagement!

In 1787, Burns crossed into England over the River Tweed. It is recorded than when on English soil he threw away his hat and quoted the two concluding verses of ‘ A Cotter’s Saturday Night’. with great passion – a moment to savour and one that has been re-enacted with enduring passion by the Coldstream Burns Club since it was formed aprox 120 yrs ago. I was extremely proud to represent the club by laying one of two wreaths at the plaque on the Brig dedicated to Robert Burns. Jane Brown fittingly left a single rose.

 O Scotia, my dear, my native soil 

for whom my warmest wish to heaven is sent

long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil

be blest with health and peace and sweet content

O Thou who poured the patriotic tide

that streamed thro Wallace’s undaunted heart

who dared to, nobly, stem tyrannic pride

or nobly die, the second glorious part

 Chairman Rab Smith of Coldstream Burns Club gave a warm welcome to visitors in the Spring sunshine. He emulated this historic event with unbridled enthusiasm on the bridge and gave welcome to guests and dignitaries on the Scottish banks of the Tweed. There was a stirring rendition from the club piper and a poignant lowering and raising of the Scottish Saltire. President Jane Brown of the RBWF gave a fitting oration as did David Baird (President Dumfries Burns Club) after which we toasted the Bard and then retired to the British Legion where we were treated to a rather tasty buffet and entertainment by the Coldstream Burns Club members.

 The hospitality shown to us by the Club was genuine and warm. They have an extremely talented membership who kept us amused with songs, recitations and clatter! Jane Brown entertained us in her inimitable fashion and with a wee bit coaxing even I managed to muster up a poem and a wee song. The afternoon concluded when David Baird won the star prize in the raffle, a fine bottle of Black Bottle Whisky. I even managed to get a couple of decent pics on Jane Brown’s I-pad of the famous Smeaton Brig! Could be a rather nice landscape painting opportunity here …I will give this serious thought? Although it’s a good two hour drive, I would recommend Coldstream as a lovely place to visit not just in respect of the landscape and will definitely return. A grand day out!

 Frank Curran

it is with deep sadness, I close the resurrected Blog with a reflection on the death of past president Frank Curran. He was a much valued, long standing member of the Howff Club and will be greatly missed not just for his wonderful singing but his quiet charm and endearing personality. At my first anniversary supper when I joined the club almost 14yrs ago I was invited to sit with Frank, Bill Welsh, Bert Hastings and Dan Cook, all past presidents. Frank recognising my nervousness in being placed with such a high profile table, quipped to me with a wee twinkle in his eye … ‘ so do you see yourself one day as President then John?’ I smiled and humbly mumbled, ‘ I’m just happy to be a here.’ I am pleased to say I still hold that sentiment very dear to my heart. To be elevated to President is a great honour.

 Shortly before Frank’s death, David Smith and I were privileged to attend the Ladies Burns’ Club No 1 closing function at the ‘Hole In The Wa’. Frank was the consummate professional and not only ably fulfilled the role of MC but acted as comedian and singer for the best part of the evening. I have never heard him in better voice and like many, found it remarkable that at 79 he could not only sing the songs in key but could remember all the words without any prompts. My enduring image of Frank was, to the last, he did what he liked doing best; entertaining his many friends without thought of reward. Like many I was shocked to hear of his sudden death and wrote a brief poem which I think is a fitting tribute.

 Frank Curran

Some men are measured by their worth

some measured by their claethes man

some measured by the sons they bear

the colour o’ their skin man.

Some are remembered by their gait

some by their wealth and mair man

some by the company they keep

or by the cross they bare man.


But he who shares the goodly heart

the song that lifts the spirit

the story that wad mak us laugh

and feel the better for it

he that wad haud oot his haun

tae help the weary stranger

he that wad put himself at risk

tae help the child in danger


Here was a man, we knew him well

of selfless disposition

wha’d walk the extra mile (without reward)

regardless o’ position.

if wealth was measured by his charm

the number o his friends man

the list wad be forever lang

Frank Curran was his name man!

A tribute to Frank Curran frae his friends at the Burns Howff Club Dumfries


John Clark 09/05/14