Can there be many more beautiful or evocative verses of poetry than this?
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You sieze the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white–then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.–
Nae man can tether time or tide;
The hour approaches Tam maun ride;
That hour, o’ night’s black arch the key-stane,
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in;
And sic a night he taks the road in
As ne’er poor sinner was abroad in.
Robert Burns – Tam O Shanter.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Howff Club Burns Supper at the Globe Inn in Dumfries with my friend Colin the piper on Thursday night. We had to pick up a fellow attendee at Ellisland Farm. Ellisland was where Burns lived during his time at Dumfries and was where he wrote Tam O Shanter.
The Globe was the howff (pub) that Burns frequented when he lived in Dumfries. He also lived there for a while before settling at Ellisland. His room is much as it was in those days. He etched some poetry on the window glass (allegedly with a diamond ring). The originals have now been taken away because of their delicate state but these facsimiles are identical, albeit a bit stronger.
The night itself was sensational. Nearly a hundred folk crammed into the old pub – a long, narrow room. There was an Immortal Memory from well known folk singer and hillwalker Jimmie McGregor. Jimmie is in his eighties now but looks as if he’s having a wee go at the immortality himself as he appears much younger than that physically and mentally. Former BBC broadcaster and MEP Alasdair Hutton delivered the Toast to the Lassies entirely in rhyme. There was a fantastic rendition of Tam O Shanter from one of the club members Donald Shamash
and several ‘sangs’ from well known folk singer Ian Bruce.
The chairman set the tone for the evening by declaring the beginning of the sacred religious festival “Ramadram”.
Twenty four hours later I was at the Dumbarton Burns Club supper where I was performing a few sangs with some freens. The Toast to the Lassies there by retired Bonhill minister Ian Miller was one of the best and funniest I’ve heard. Really though, everyone was great at that supper too. I thoroughly enjoy the whole thing. The friendship, the food, the entertainment….not to mention the single malt whisky!
That’s two down and several more to go, at one of which I’ll be doing the Immortal Memory speech.