Winter Club Nights
Jean Armour Dinner
Members and friends of the Burns Howff Club gathered at the statue to Jean Armour on the evening of Monday 1st July to honour the memory of Robert Burns’ “Bonnie Jean”. President Godfrey Bedford welcomed the company and placed a floral tribute at the base of the statue, erected by the club in 2004. Past President Ian McIntyre delivered an oration on the poet’s wife who survived her husband for 38 years until her death in 1834 still in the house in Dumfries despite pleas to come back to her native Ayrshire. Callum Watson played a lament on the bagpipes before leading the company back to the Globe Inn for the 9th Jean Armour Dinner.
The toast to “Jean Armour” was proposed by Honorary Member John Glover MBE with his customary wit and passion. The President congratulated Mr. Glover on his award of his MBE in the Birthday Honours List in recognition of his charitable work and invited him to accept the proceeds of the evening’s raffle to go to his project, the RAP Foundation which supports orphans in Romania. Contributing to the entertainment were Mhairi Dalgleish, recitations and Kieran Nordon, selections on the fiddle, both winners of the Schools Competition run by the SSCBA. Other guests were Misses Murray, Stewart and Burns making their debut appearance at the club with music and songs. Avril Kerr from Dumfries Ladies Burns Club No.1 delighted the company with her choice of Burns’ verses and Willie McRobert provided musical selections on the accordion.
A Vote of Thanks moved by Junior Vice President Callum Watson brought a fine evening to an end.
Club Treasure Hunt
The annual club Treasure Hunt on 11th July was well supported by members and friends on a fine evening. Four teams, each accompanied by an “advisor” set off from the Globe Inn at 7.00pm clutching the sheets of clues and soon disappeared into a variety of public houses, collecting answers en route.
Some team members proved more adept than others in deciphering the non-cryptic clues but all returned to the Globe by the appointed time and in reasonably good order.
The adjudicators had the customary struggle with incomplete answers and poor handwriting but eventually, the team from the Globe were declared winners and received their prize of plonk from President Godfrey Bedford. The runners up were Team Johnston.
Thanks are due to Kerr Little for his succulent Scotch Pies and to Mrs. Brown for donating the mushy peas. Congratulations to Messrs Miller, G. Johnston, McIntyre and Smith who prepared the clues.
Club delegation to Wauchope Cairn – Hawick
Dan Cook, Gordon Johnston, David Smith, Godfrey Bedford, Calum Watson, David Baird, Les Byres
Howff Club Well represented at the Robert Burn World Federation Conference
Pictured Left to Right : L Byres, D Baird, N Johnston, Mrs. M McKerrow (Hon Mem), B D Baird, Mrs. E Johnston, G Johnston, J Brown (Hon Mem),
I McIntyre, D Smith, Mrs M McIntyre, D Millar, G Templeton, J Lauder, G McKerrow – Other member were present but not captured in this photo
The club was well represented at the annual conference of the Robert Burns World Federation held in the plush Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow, on 6th to 8th September.
Delegates witnessed the installation of honorary member Jane Brown as president for the ensuing year and after dinner on Saturday, helped to celebrate until dawn.
A full report of the conference weekend appears on the Hon. Sec’s blog although composed by past president Ian McIntyre. The Hon. Sec wishes nothing to do with it.
2013 Halloween Supper in the Globe Inn
Although ardent spirits swirled around the Globe Inn at Hallowe’en, no ghosts disturbed members of the Burns Howff Club assembled for the annual celebration of “All Hallows Eve’”.
he company was welcomed by President Godfrey Bedford who introduced the guest speaker, Jim Thomson from Kilmarnock, recently elected senior vice president of the Robert Burns World Federation and author of “In and Out of Tam O’ Shanter”, the story behind Burns’ famous tale.
After dinner, Mr Thomson, a former senior police officer in Strathclyde, delighted the gathering with tales from his police career chiefly in his native Ayrshire concluding with a description of the origin of the pagan festival, Gaelic Samhain, when the spirits of the dead were said to return and future marriage partners could be predicted.
Mr. Thomson was thanked by the president and accepted a commemorative tankard. A special guest was Dave Scott from Duns who delivered a bravura recitation of “Tam O’ Shanter” with a counterpoint of “Tam, the Bike” from club member Bobby Jess.
Andy Kain and Craig Paton making a welcome return to the Globe Inn, raised the roof with their selections on the accordion and fiddle and members Frank Curran and Bill Welsh contributed songs, old and new.
The president congratulated Mrs. Jane Brown, manager of the Globe Inn and honorary member of the club, on her election as president of the RBWF and wished her every success for her year in office.
Mr. Peter Westwood of Castle Douglas, former editor of the Burns Chronicle and a renowned authority on the poet, was awarded honorary membership of the club. Peter announced that he is compiling a book of reminiscences on another honorary member, the late David Shankland MBE and further contributions would be welcome.
Following a lively period of community singing, junior vice president Calum Watson moved a comprehensive Vote of Thanks and a raucous version of Auld Lang Syne brought a memorable evening to a close.
St Andrews Night Supper at the Globe Inn
Members and friends of the Burns Howff Club assembled in the Globe Inn on the evening of 2nd December to celebrate St. Andrew’s Night and were welcomed by President Godfrey Bedford. Special guests introduced were Stewart Houston from Biggar and Willie Horne from Cockenzie, the latter making a welcome return to the club.
The company observed one minutes silence in memory of the victims of the recent helicopter incident in Glasgow. After dinner, Mr. Houston, a semi retired Procurator Fiscal, proposed the toast to “Auld Scotia” taking as his theme Burns’ poem “Here’s A Bottle and an honest friend” encapsulating the friendship and hospitality for which Scotland is famous intermingled with some hilarious tales from the Sheriff Courts.
The speaker was thanked by the president and accepted an inscribed tankard.
The Twa Dugs
A sparkling rendition of “The Twa Dugs” was given by Willie Horne, assisted by the president and secretary and songs were provided by John Caskie, John Clark, Ian McIntyre, Frank Curran and Bill Welsh with further recitations including the “Cholesterol Song” from Willie Horne.
Madam Presidents Present
Honorary member Mrs. Jane Brown was called from her usual position behind the bar and invited to accept a studio portrait in the Chain of Office of President of the Robert Burns World Federation as a gift from the club. Mr. Brown thanked the president and spoke of her long and happy association with the club and its members.
The president announced that the proceeds of the raffle would be donated to the Philippines Disaster Appeal.
Following some lively community singing, a Vote of Thanks was moved by junior vice president Callum Watson and the evening concluded with “Auld Lang Syne”
Howff Anniversary Dinner 2014
James Coutts, I.McIntyre, D.Smith, Willie Dick, Charles Anderson, F.Manson, Moire Nelson, G.Johnstton, I.Kirkpatrick, C.Watson, J.Clark
D.Cook, Brian Taylor, G.Bedford (President) John Glover
The 125th anniversary dinner of the Burns Howff Club took place in the Globe Inn, Dumfries on Monday, January 27. Piper Callum Watson played a stirring march as he led the procession of office bearers and guests into the hallowed sanctuary. With formalities and introductions quickly dispensed, the gathering of Howffers needed little persuasion to ensure “There was a Lad” was sung with hearty voice.
This raising of spirits certainly inspired President Godfrey Bedford in his address to the haggis. Despite this being delivered in the patois of a lad from the north-west of England, Godfrey’s gentle dialect was a welcome variation and appreciated by the company.
There followed some toasts, one of which to the Burns Federation was replied to by past president David Miller. In his usual inimitable and humorous manner, honorary secretary David Smith delighted the assembly with greetings he had received from kindred Burns clubs from around the world. Salutations had been received from Burns clubs in England, the US, Australia, Europe and local clubs. During the evening President Godfrey accepted a gift on behalf of the Howff Club marking the 125th year from Dumbarton Burns Club President, Charles Anderson. The Dumbarton Burns Club and the Howff Club have had a long association.
There is always some eager anticipation among Howffers about what will follow and on this night they were not to be disappointed. A real prize for the evening was Willie Dick from New Cumnock. His recitations of “First Epistle to John Lapraik” and “Epistle to John Parker” were truly entrancing.
It may have been that he spoke in his native Ayrshire dialect, which may well have been that of Burns. During the latter recitation he was particularly mesmeric, indeed Howffers could have been for all that in the Globe Inn listening to the Bard himself. It is certainly not beyond the reach of this young man to carve a career in the footsteps of John Cairney.
Past presidents and Howff stalwarts were represented in force during the evening, displaying an eagerness to perform. The assembly joined in with some enthusiasm as Messrs Curran, Caskie, Byers and Welsh delivered popular Burns songs to the accompaniment of James Coutts on accordion and Ian Kirkpatrick on his millennium fiddle.
Brian Taylor, the BBC’s political editor is a well-known face on the television and he had indeed delivered a sparkling performance in his toast to Auld Scotia at the Howff’s St Andrews dinner. Once again he was at the Globe, soaking up its special atmosphere but this time it was to propose the toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns.
Using his mastery of the English and Scots language to full effect, Taylor spoke of how Burns in his prose and letters sharply and succinctly demolished the establishment. He referred to the satire of Burns in “Holy Willie’s Prayer” and “Address to the Unco Guid” and of how Burns was brilliant and highly educated gaining most of his knowledge by reading everything he could get his hands on. He said Burns’ work can be complex but always thoughtful, considered and measured in his thoughts.
Taylor flitted from branch to branch with excerpts from the Bard’s poems. He pondered whether in “To a Mouse” his gentle words revealed the poet taking the burden and of how in a “Cotter’s Saturday Night” the words were not affected or sentimental but a warm endorsement of his native land – “an honest man is the noblest work of God”.
Burns steered clear of prejudice and in politics as facts change he had the right to change his mind. “But politics, truce! We’re on dangerous ground; Who knows how fashions may alter? The doctrines of today that are loyalty sound, Tomorrow may bring us a halter.”
However, Taylor felt that Burns’ sympathies lay with egalitarian thoughts and despite living in the time of the French Revolution and the American Revolution he would always endorse that while we sing “God save the king, we’ll ne’er forget the people”.
Brian Taylor received prolonged ovation from approving Howffers and with no protocol for encore, piper Callum Watson closed this part of the ceremony with a lament that gradually melted into the distance.
Howffers were immediately rejuvenated and moved onwards in song with “A Man’s a Man” and the enjoyment of further beautiful musical melodies from accordion and fiddle.
One poignant moment in the evening was when past president Gordon Johnston recited “Court of Equity”, a bawdy poem that is usually excluded from volumes of the poet’s works. It is not the easiest of verse to deliver and prior to doing so he dedicated his performance to past president Ian Whitehead, who died recently and who had coached him in the poem’s nuances and dramatic emphasis.
The final toast of the evening was The Lasses, O’ and this normally witty and acerbic discourse was in the hugely capable hands of John Glover. Burns had been inspired by the many lasses he encountered and John in reflection of this, treated the company to a collection of jokes and stories on marriage and funny incidents about the distaff side.
Further music and song followed before junior vice president Callum Watson delivered a warm and sincere tribute to the artistes with past president Ian McIntryre expressing thanks to the chairman, Godfrey Bedford before the singing of Auld Lang Syne concluded the evening.
Howff Club Members speak in London
President and former Dumfries man Hector Davidson, invited club members Mr Peter Kormylo, Mr James Haining and Mrs Jane Brown to deliver the main toasts to the supper in the fine and prestigous building in Halkin Street, London. This delightful eddifice houses the world renowned, Caledonian Club. Mrs Brown, owing to commitments at the Mausoleum, was unable to attend at this juncture but happily the incumbent President of the Robert Burns World Federation has found time in her busy schedule to give a presentation on ‘Bonie Jean on Monday the 17th of February.
Mr Kormylo delivered of his assured best and the fervor with which he delivered Scots Wha’ Hae’ had parliamentarians fearing a Yes! vote. Mr Haining assured the company that whilst his back’s out more often than he is, an eye for the lassies is still retained. He too delighted the company with an amusing toast.
The humorous ‘Reply’ was delivered in a considered and eloquent vein by Dundonian exile, Alison Kennedy. Alison is a novelist and Comedienne. Vice President Bill Henry delivered “Holy Willie’s Prayer” much to the merriment of those captivated by his recitation.
Hector orchestrated the event with assured aplomb and with his son Rory, “Trenching .(the).. gushing entrails” it was a nicht of sangs and clatter that left the assembled throng feeling – ceilidh not withstanding- breathless.
With the tickets at £83, the happy crowd departed feeling they had been afforded superb value.
Burns Club of London
This fine old club, that now meets in the Caledonian Club in Belgravia, was founded by a former President of the Greenock Burns Club and son of the town, Colin Rae Brown. Brown, like many of his countrymen, had migrated to southerly climes in 1863. This entrepreneurial newspaper magnate hosted and chaired twelve Burns suppers in his commodious Kensington town house. As these events grew in repute, he garnered that interest and took the London club to full maturity from those embryonic beginnings, in 1868.
Brown also drove the formation of the Burns Federation in 1885 and as a result of his endeavours the Burns Club of London sits proudly as No 1 on the Federation’s roll.
Early members of the club included John Gordon Crawford who gifted the Burns Statue on the Thames Embankment and Sir John Steel, sculptor of the superb Burns bust in Westminster Abbey, unveiled in 1885 by Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery.
At the famous Caledonian Club in Belgravia, London, we find the famous Thomson Vase, presented in 1847 to George Thomson, the publisher of Burns songs.
The Vase is the property of The Burns Club of London, having been purchased when two of their members
discovered it in a London pawn shop in 1918.
Dumfries Rotary Club Charity Quiz Series
Howff club members were demonstrated their cerebral agility in the Rotary Club Charity quiz series – shown below is the Howff team at the last in the series. When the scores were calculated over the series the Howff team “the Burns unit” finished runners up.
28th November 2013
Honorary member Jane Brown stood in at the last minute at the November Winter Club Night as the speaker, David Collin, called off due to an injury.
Jane regaled members and friends with a tale of her recent trip to Alberta, Canada, when she was a guest of the famous Calgary Burns Club and later at Medicine Hat. Mrs Brown was invited in her role as president of the Robert Burns World Federation and was; she said, treated like royalty and during her stay in Medicine Hat, was provided with her own personal “Mountie” called Sean, as her minder.
Jane’s light hearted account of the trip illustrated with spectacular photos of the Rocky Mountains and other interesting scenes made for a very relaxed and enjoyable evening. A feature was the impressive display of all the cards and messages of congratulations she received during the RBWF conference in September, including a letter from the Chief Clerk to HM The Queen.
Mrs. Brown was thanked by President Godfrey Bedford.
26th October 2013
“Dundrearies and Dissertations”
Past president Ian McIntyre was guest speaker at a well attended October Club Night in the Globe Inn and took as his subject, the great Victorian doctor, Sir. James Crichton Browne who, though born in Edinburgh in 1840 had many links with Dumfries. He was a pupil at Dumfries Academy before studying medicine at Edinburgh University. Perhaps his greatest claim to fame lay in his work at the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum and at the Crichton Institution where he pioneered developments in modern psychiatry and in later life was hailed as the “Elder statesman of British Psychiatry”. He was knighted by Queen Victoria and his list of honours included a Fellowship of the Royal Society. As a teenager in Dumfries, he met the eldest son of Robert Burns fishing in the Nith in 1854, wearing a lum hat and frockcoat but commented that he saw no sign of this father’s genius. Sir James could claim friendship with Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, the prime minister Lord Rosebury and he corresponded with Winston Churchill. In 1875, has was appointed as the Lord Chancellor’s Visitor in Lunacy and in that role he travelled widely in England inspecting Institutions and Asylums. His later years were spent in Dumfries and died at the age of 98 in a house at Nunholm. He was a prolific writer and his publications included “The Prevention of Senility”, “The Death of Burns” and “A Doctor’s Notebook”. Sir James was a past president of Dumfries Burns Club and proposed a toast to “The Club” at their centenary dinner in 1920. He was a vigorous opponent of teetotalism and was one of the last gentlemen to sport “Dundrearies”, a luxuriant growth of facial hair. Ian’s talk was illustrated by a series of “Magic Lantern” slides showing early pictures of the Crichton site and some of the characters featuring in the narrative.
Following a question and answer session, Mr. McIntyre was thanked by Secretary David Smith deputising for President Godfrey Bedford.
25th September 2013
Centre. Joe Craig with some of the party.
The seasons programme commenced on Thursday 26th September with an evening visit to the Police Museum at Loreburn Street Police Station. President Godfrey Bedford and party were welcomed by the Curator, Joe Craig and conducted to the fascinating display of artefacts and photographs of the history of policing in Dumfries and Galloway from the 19th century to the present day, including gruesome exhibits from the Buck Ruxton murders of the 1930’s and the murder of the lighthouse keeper at the Mull of Galloway in the 1960’s as well as the Lockerbie Air Disaster of 1988, the biggest murder enquiry in Britain. Visits were made to the custody suite where members were invited to view the cells and to the CCTV room where the town centre cameras were monitored. Ian McIntyre presented Mr. Craig with a copy of a Stewartry Constabulary Constable’s Hand Book from 1932 for the collection and thanked him and his colleagues for their hospitality. Although there was a check for any outstanding warrants, members made it safely