“Man was made to Mourne”
After a long gap, good to get into the blogging habit again. Since the last entry, I had the pleasure of attending “Carols in the Car Park” on 10th December, at Locharbriggs Community Centre, hosted by past president John Caskie and featuring Willie McRobert on the box with a good attendance of local kids and parents who gave the old favourites laldy. Inside, we had party games with prizes and nibbles. Saturday 11th December, out to the Buccleuch Centre, Langholm for the Scocha concert and seasonal meal. Met up with Alex and David Pool. The boys provided the usual scintillating mix of crowd pleasers and some new numbers with the customary banter with the Langholm audience. Ted Murray, as designated driver did well to find the venue. The club’s annual Christmas Dinner, now growing in popularity and in its third year, was held in the clubroom on 20th December when 16 members sat down to a fabulous meal and quaffed some wine. President Neil was a generous host and “Santa” made a surprise visit and dished out gifts to all. Following the traumas of Ne’er Day, the Executive Committee met in full plenary session on 10th January and deliberated long and hard on the Anniversary Dinner arrangements. The programme looks great and as it would be a full house, it was resolved to overcome any problems with the seating plan with grim determination. On Friday 14th, attended a Whisky Tasting at the Station Hotel with Gordon Johnston and met some old friends and a selection of island and highland blends. On the morrow, bright-eyed and bushy tailed to Glasgow University to attend the Burns Seminar at the Western Infirmary Lecture Theatre. Time for an excellent bar lunch at the nearby Common Room pub. The seminar was stimulating with a variety of papers on aspects of Burns. Personal highlights were the talk by Dr. Natalie Kaloh Vid, on “Ideological adaption of Robert Burns’ Poetry in the former Soviet Union” with hilarious examples of the translations of Samuel Marshak which omitted all references to aristocracy and belief in God. Sir Kenneth Calman spoke on “Tam O’ Shanter’s Mare, a study of Burns and Health”. Did some networking at the break. Thanks due to David Miller for skilful driving and finding a parking place. Disappointed that the Round Table Burns Supper was cancelled this year under mysterious circumstances but hopefully the Table will get their act together for next year. The sad news came through on Tuesday 18th of the death of the club’s honorary president, Dr. George Stirling, the senior past president and one of the characters of the Howff Club since the 1950’s He’ll be sadly missed. Thursday 20th, met with John Caskie to finalise the seating plan which John has got off to a T and if anything goes pear-shaped, it’s not his fault. Dumbarton was the target on Friday 21st for the rescheduled Dumbarton Burns Supper. As the Dumbuck Hotel was out of action due to water damage, the Burns Supper was held in a Masonic Temple in Alexandria. This was a magnificent venue with splendid decorations, an excellent meal and superb company. President Neil, at the Top Table, conveyed fraternal greetings from the Howff Club and his father addressed the Haggis inn great style. A hugely enjoyable evening with first class toasts and entertainment. Our hotel in Balloch was adequate if a bit noisy from the adjoining room. Looked for sawdust in the president’s room in the morning. Due to a domestic problem, was unable to attend the Burns Supper at Friars Carse on Saturday 22nd but reports suggested that a fine time was had with great interaction from the company at the end. Monday 24th on the overcrowded 8.15am train from Lockerbie with the President and Librarian to attend the launch of Peter Kormylo’s book of Burns translations in Ukrainian at the Ukrainian Consulate General in Windsor Street where we met up with John Clark and David Baird. After a welcome from the Consul General, speeches were made by some dignitaries and David Baird and to his surprise, John Clark. Peter’s collaborator, Ms. Hanna Dyka from Keiv was present and spoke warmly of the Scots’ hospitality. Lunch at the Cafe Royal before the return journey. The 122nd Anniversary Dinner on 25th January in the Globe Inn was one I will remember for a long time for starting on time, for an excellent meal, a Haggis addressed with gusto and an “Immortal Memory” from Peter Kormylo which brought the company to its feet. Harry Hutchison standing in for Murdo Morrison gave a superb toast to the “Lasses, O” in his relaxed and conversational style and Jim Haining’s “Drouthie Cronies” at 12.10am, was what we would expect for wit and perspicacity. Our musicians, James Coutts and Ian Kirkpatrick were tremendous and club members who sustained the programme were fantastic including a graphic recitation of “Tam” from Alex Pool. Neil made a genial chairman and conducted the proceedings with authority and humour. He also finished on time with only a few empty seats at 12.30am. Earlier, members gathered in the Globe for lunch prior to the Annual Commemorative Service at St. Michaels and were joined by President Patrick Trust and Secretary Moir Nelson from Dumbarton Burns Club, also Hanna Dyka who would be a guest at Dumfries Burns Club that evening. The club was officially represented at the funeral of Dr. George Stirling by the president and junior vice president. A highly enjoyable supper was held in the Globe on Thursday 27th in honour of Hanna Dyka when a small company foregathered for an evening of song and story. JVP Ian McIntyre presented Hanna with a gift on behalf of the club as the president was on duty with the Annan Ladies. Friday 28th, accompanied Peter, Gordon and Hanna on a visit to the new Birthplace Museum at Alloway when Hanna presented director Nat Edwards with a copy of the translations. Met Federation past president and honorary member Joe Campbell. Having seen the museum previously before being opened, I was impressed with the layout and interactive displays but wonder what the “Old Guard” Burnsians will make of it. Another Burns Supper at the Globe tonight. I’m glad January is over.