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THE INS AND OUTS OF BURNS NIGHT
Burns' Night is an institution of Scottish life, but also a welcome distraction down here in London to read poetry, eat haggis and reel (Scottish country dancing).
Burns Suppers have been part of Scottish culture for more then 200 years as a means of commemorating their best loved bard. The ritual was started by close friends of Burns a few years after his death in 1796 as a tribute to his memory. The basic format for the evening has remained unchanged and includes a precise order of piping, reading Burns’ poems, eating haggis and entering in a witty dual between lassies (girls) and laddies (boys).
Let the battle of the sexes begin
“The speech must bridge the dangerous chasm between serious intent and sparkling wit” (BBC) with the slightest touch of naughtiness. So you can imagine my mix of excitement and terror, when I was asked to deliver the ‘response from the lassies’, to the laddies toast. Unfortunately the original venue fell through, and I believed all my poetic endeavours wasted. Until a last minute adjustment to the plan allowed me to deliver the speech to a small group of friends at yet another Burns Night.
So for all of you who couldn’t be there, here the verses:
THE RESPONSE FROM THE LASSIES
The response from the lassies, by a German delivered,
the blood of a true Scott, through and through quivered.
But alas this is Europe, at least for now you’re still in –
so take a deep breath, and let us begin!
I thank thee, dear Gavin – for what you have uttered,
the compliments to us, from your speech simply fluttered.
But hear our response, from the lassies combined,
for in our opinion, we stand truly aligned!
You boys do us proud, you’re a great bunch you are!
You make the world lovely – it’s better by far.
But ‘whistle – and I’ll come to ye my lad’,
is nothing more then Robbie’s old marketing fad.
( . . . )
Dear Robbie rhymed constantly, without rest or pause.
An ode to Delia, Bessy, Eliza, Peggy, Nancy, Jean, the Captain’s lady, a country lass, a louse, a mouse – and all to applause!
But alas, all we get from you laddies these days,
Is a cryptic ‘What’s App’ messages, typed up in a haze.
So, on behalf of the lassies assembled here this eve,
we accept your toast gents, and now take our leave.
But first ladies I ask that you please raise your glasses,
and join me in giving a Toast for the Lassies.
Marieluise Maiwald with a little help from Caroline Blair
Thanks for this challenge Gavin!
And please leave me a comment or a challenge below.