A warm reekin’, rich celebration

The pews at St Mary’s church were packed, much to the delight of Rev David Hagan-Palmer – but, on this occasion, for less spiritual affairs although one particular spirit featured highly.

A total of 56 villagers from Brampton, Banningham, and Spratt’s Green joined Burgh residents at the church for a merry evening of poetry, recitals and Scottish music – Burns Night. Guests were welcomed into the candle-lit, tartan-decorated nave by the blast of bagpipes from the Highland Pipe and Drum Ensemble.

Rev David started the celebrations by reciting The Selkirk Grace which was followed by the first of the three-course meal, piping hot Scotch broth.

The star turn of the evening, of course, was the haggis, which was ceremoniously piped in followed by Suzanne Cooper, host and chief organiser of the supper, and Jason Grant, in full Scottish costume.

Jason, not a Scot and not in the habit of “performing”, gave a dramatic Address to the Haggis plunging the knife into the meaty pudding in the traditional manner, signalling the next course to be served. But not before the toast to “The Haggis”.

A wee dram was offered to guests, some of whom poured it on the dish served with Champit tatties and bashed neeps.

All servings of the meal including the haggis, were prepared and cooked by villagers and served by Suzanne, her children Shannen and Declan, Janie Elwes, and Jeanne Buchanan.

So why do we celebrate Burns Night? According to the main speaker, Tony Stimpson, who delivered the Immortal Memory, on the life and legacy of Robert Burns, it is all about birthdays. We know Burns was born on 25 January 1759 – but we don’t know what day Shakespeare was born. So the English bard is sidelined.

Tony, in a humorous and stylish speech sprinkled with anecdotes, reminded guests that “drink is your enemy” but the Bible says: “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44), before inviting us to join in the toast: ‘To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns’.

After the sweet, Typsy Laird, a classic Scottish trifle, it was the turn of Michael Cooper to give the Toast to the Lassies – a light-hearted mockery of the “weaker sex”. This was swiftly followed up by the Reply to the Toast by Chris Roberts.

In a bawdy “double act”, Chris interviewed herself as the hat-donning wife of the philandering bard who is said to have inspired many of his poems and bore him nine children.

After the cheese and oatcakes, church warden Jeanne Buchanan formally wound up the evening thanking all the villagers who prepared the food and helped with the event,  particularly Suzanne and her family, and Janie Elwes for organising and managing the supper. All proceeds will go towards the upkeep of the church. She ended by  offering her own poetic contribution:

“Now that you’ve had your tatties and neeps,
Get ye home and have some sleeps.”

A final swirl of the bagpipes and a hearty rendition of Auld Lang Syne closed the supper.

The £900 raised will go to church funds.

The Haggis for the “Toast” was donated from Middletons Steak House, Norwich. The rest came from Simon Howie Chieftain Haggis.

The organisers would like to thank the following:

Janie Elwes – owner of Saracens Head cooked soups and potatoes (also proving cookware)
Suzanne Cooper – all haggis, trifles and swede
Jeanne Buchanan – trifle and cheeses
Sandra Hurrell – trifle
Liz Stimpson – trifle
Dorothy Clark – swede
Shirley Jackson – oatcake biscuits
Yvonne Stewart – tablet, the Scottish fudge

Picture gallery

Patrick Prekopp
25 January 2020

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