Rabbie Burns – even celebrated Down Under (Sydney)
Photos by Candia
Bonnie Prince Charlie, Burns' Night, Caligula, Commonwealth Games, D-day celebrations 2014, emoticons, Eskdale Hotel. Langholm, Glasgow School of Art, Henry Moore's King and Queen, incontinence pads, Kagyu Samye Ling, Land Girl, portable catheter, Sauchiehall Street, Snodland, Tibetan Centre, Usain Bolt, whippersnapper, Willow Tea Rooms
It’s gone! It’s gone! Murgatroyd’s face was ashen.
Calm down, dear! Diana took control. She was used to his
But it was here last night when we had the post-concert
drinkies. And the glass hasn’t been smashed. We didn’t hear
the alarm. I don’t understand it.
The niche where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s chalice had been
displayed was now empty.
What a shame! The concert had been a triumph and there had
been some surprise visitors. One, in particular, had caused
consternation and a re-shuffling of the sleeping arrangements.
Aunt Augusta had shown up in a taxi, gleefully proclaiming, Have
portable catheter. Can travel!
The taxi driver sheepishly unloaded the packs of incontinence pads
from the boot and waived the tip of an obsolete half crown.
When reprimanded about the staff at Snodland Nursing Home for the
Debased Gentry being frantic with worry, the rogue aunt merely
shrugged and said: That old chap escaped for the D-day celebrations
in Normandy, so, as a Land Girl, I wasn’t going to be trumped by some
whippersnapper of a male. You can phone and tell them I’ll return
after I have heard my great-niece in concert. I’ll be back on Wednesday
as it’s the day I have my corns done. Tell them not to strike a medal; I
have enough of them at my age.
The other unexpected members of the audience were Maxwell
Boothroyd-Smythe and his delinquent, but artistically-talented daughter,
Juniper. Thankfully her pesky little brother had been taken to some kind
of trendy boot-camp by his mother.
Juniper had been photographing the burnt-out Glasgow School of Art, where
she had been promised a place if her predicted grades were achieved. Her
father found that checking out possible accommodation for the Autumn term
was nigh-on impossible, as The Commonwealth Games‘ crowds in Sauchiehall
Street were overwhelming. The chance of having a cup of tea in The Willow
Tearooms was as slight as Usain Bolt failing to win a gold medal.
Finding the city too crowded, they had set off for The Borders, hoping to see
Henry Moore’s King and Queen sculpture and to visit the Kagyu Samye Ling
Tibetan Centre which Juniper had been harping on about for months. Goodness
knew, her father had been seeking inner peace for some time. So, he agreed.
They had been eating a bar snack in The Eskdale Hotel, Langholm, when
Juniper’s observant eye focused on a flyer advertising a clarsach concert.
Dad! Let’s go to that! It’s that form teacher of mine. She’s playing at some
kind of a tower house near here. That nerdy guy who’s John’s form teacher-
the one they all call Caligula- is singing. It should be a laugh.
When is it?
But won’t you put them off?
No, Miss Fotheringay is well-used to me surprising her.
Maxwell studied the mini-poster. He recognised the woman. She had scrubbed
up quite well. Probably Photo-shopped. Yes, he had danced Strip the Willow
with her at the PTA Burns’ Night.
Okay. Okay. But I’m not phoning ahead for tickets. We might get lost.
Probably hardly anyone will turn up, so we can buy tickets on the door.
I knew there was something going on between those two, whooped his
Juniper was already texting her friend Tiger-Lily, using a full range of
Burns' Night, chicklit, e-book, Elvis, Flower of Scotland tartan, ghillie brogues, Heath and Safety Officer, Heavyweight kilt, Izaak Walton, Juniper, Pele Tower, Phytophora, Presleys of Aberdeenshire, Prince Charlie jacket, PTA, skean dhu, trout fishing
I mustn’t look back now that I have re-located to Suttonford. I can
hardly believe that it is almost Burns’ Night. Wonder what my ex,
Murgatroyd, is doing? Probably having a ceilidh in his converted Pele
Tower in the Borders. No, don’t go there..
Called in to meet another of Sonia’s friends last night. She was quite
an eccentric old lady in her nineties and, although it was very early in
the evening, she insisted on pouring us very large measures of
something hideously like fire-water, which she referred to as Dewlap’s
Gin for the Discerning Grandmother. There was very little tonic in it.
There followed a monologue about the decline in juniper plants in the
South of England. Apparently rabbits are eating them and No. 3
London Gin is subsidising the protection of the few remaining bushes in
Sussex. They seem to be succumbing to a disease called Phytophora
austro-something or other- the plants, not the rabbits. The old dear
was quite distraught at the thought of her little tipple being affected.
Not so little, actually!
We were talking about the PTA Burns’ Supper and Ginevra, for that
was the old biddy’s name, was surprisingly informative about where
Gus could hire a kilt and all the gear. She used to live in Scotland too,
nearly a century ago.
Apparently there is a place in Southampton that sends the whole outfit
out, if you book it on-line.
The Health and Safety Officer at school has vetoed the skean dhus,
though. Says they could be construed as dangerous and menacing
I e-mailed Gus later from Ginevra’s, to pass on the information and to
say that I would come along as his guest. Ginevra is quite au fait with
the internet and so on and even showed me her latest e-book! It
seemed fairly racy.
She called it Broilerlit and, when I queried the term, she explained that after
chicklit came henlit, and finally, broilerlit, written by authors of the Third Age.
Much later, when we finally dragged ourselves away, so that Magda, the old
lady’s carer could put her to bed, Gus actually phoned me on my mobile.
He told me that there is to be a band and caller and the School Secretary has
organised an auction, with prizes, such as a day’s trout fishing with tuition
which will tickle the gills of any budding Izaak Walton.
She- The School Secretary-I don’t recall her name-had already ordered
ghillie brogues, a Prince Charlie jacket and Heavyweight kilt in the Presley
tartan for him, seeing as Gus has no clan connections. So, she must be
quite efficient, after all.
However, he didn’t fancy the Elvis theme, in spite of the Presleys being
genuinely originally from Aberdeenshire. So she swapped the cloth to
Flower of Scotland, which certainly sounds more traditional, though it may
be universally worn, with no affiliation required.
Sonia is going to lend me her long, bottle green satin dress and a tartan
stole, if the moths haven’t got into it.
I’m a little worried about Gus’ legs and I can’t bear to speculate as to
whether he will, or won’t be wearing anything underneath.
Let’s just hope that it is not a windy night, in any sense of the adjective.
I’m glad he opted for the Heavyweight!
Cheerio for now, as they say!