Sunday, January 26, 2014

SFU Pipe Band Robbie Burns Dinner 2014

My Scottish Canadian friend, Anne, introduced me to Robbie Burns Dinner decades back in Courtenay on Vancouver Island.  She was a brilliant and beautiful social worker in Port Hardy when I was the young psychiatrist in Courtenay.  I’d never been to a Robbie Burns dinner but loved all things about my roots.  I’d read Robbie Burns poetry in my teens and carried a little collection with me when I’d travelled Europe on bicycle.  Thanks to Anne I was introduced to haggis and have never been the same since.
My friend Lorne Kay's father introduced him to Robbie Burns dinners as a child.  Lorne got tickets for us and the girls one year. That’s how I first heard the SFU Pipe Band.  They’re world champions 6 times over. That Tattoo I attended by SFU was reminiscent of the great tattoo my chambermaid aunt in Holyrood got me into. I was visiting Edinburgh as a young man and didn’t know what a chambermaid was, let alone a tattoo.
This year Lorne’s partner was in Australia and I was without a date.  The Moray and Nain Robbie Burns dinner I really like to attend has much dancing usually with the Mad Celt.  Lorne and I would be both dressed in kilts but neither would defer to dance the lady’s part.  Hence my idea that I get us tickets to the SFU Pipe Band Robbie Burns Dinner.
After hearing the Pipe Band first with Lorne I’d bought their records and played their grand music in my sailboat a thousand miles from land crossing seas.  Nothing more rousing for the spirits than well played Scottish bag pipes. There’s the drums too.
At the dinner we sat at Falkirk table with a couple of the mothers of the band’s Snare Drum players.  It caused me to pay special attention to the drums and they really were something.
It’s all about the haggis though. The piping in of the haggis was indeed the best I’d known.  The reek of the haggis was perhaps the best I’d known as well.  Then the Address to the Haggis was done with admirable flair. Our MC Jim Gallacher not only recited the poem but threw his whole body into the hacking of the haggis.  Great theatre.
The Selkirk Grace was followed by a superb buffet dinner put on by the Executive Plaza Hotel, North Road.  A lovely young lady whose name I missed sang the Star of Robbie Burns flawlessly.
There were pipers and dancers and a great silent auction.  The MLA and Mayor were there.  I remember one was Stewart and thought that admirably fitting for a leader.  A tribute to the Pipe Major of 36 years had been done by Simon Frazer University.
The conversation at our table was marvellous.  The attractive woman beside me had just learned to skin a deer and her partner had very funny stories of early days with a power boat.  Lorne, “the Laird”, talked of chess and his time in Australia.
Having eaten haggis again, with the finest of bagpipe music playing, I was simply in heaven.   The SFU Pipe Band do know how to host a Robbie Burns Dinner.   I even scored a pair of Canucks tickets in the Silent Auction.
“Fair fa’your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the pudding race!
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