It was with enormous pleasure that we spent yesterday evening with friends who were hosting a Burns Night party. As we left, Max mentionned that snow was forecast followed by a thaw so we happily drove 55 kilometres along mostly country roads.
The party was lovely, our hosts are an English/French couple and apart from ourselves and one other couple the guests were all French. All French being introduced to Burns for the time and horrified at the thought of Scottish dancing.
We gathered around a very festive table for dinner, the Grace was recited and Cock-a-Leekie explained to the French. In front of each guest was a two line extract of Burns poetry and we all took turns to read our extract. I was very pleased (perhaps not surprised!) to be reading an extract from Bonnie Jean
There was a lass, and she was fair,
At kirk and market to be seen,
When a' the fairest maids were met,
The fairest maid was Bonnie Jean.
Needless to say, whilst most of the French had enough English to understand, well, English, there understanding of Scottish poetry was not so good. After each reading a translation was required and we soon discovered that explaining the full meaning of "fair" and "bonnie" - to mention just two fairly straightforward words - was not easy. I'm not sure if it was made simpler with each passing of the whisky but anyway!
The haggis was piped in with great ceremony and the Ode to the Haggis read to a bemused crowd who naturally demanded an explanation. More poetry and song followed and then the piper bought out his collection of Jew's Harps. He played accompanied by our host on the...table spoons. I have never seen spoons moving so fast to elbow, thigh, knee, elbow, a bit of this and a bit of that. Fantastic.
And on to the dancing. Nigel, who has long experience (at least three Burns evenings anyway) was put to the test. I never before thought that Scottish Dancing was on a par with rocket science but clearly I was misinformed. Stripping the Willow is really fairly straightforward and something you are able to pick up quite quickly. Normally. If you are from the right side of the channel. Sober perhaps. Yes, perhaps it was the whisky that confused people and spinning certainly didn't help. On the whole the lassies were fine but I suspect their consumption of whisky was more moderate!
All the same, we stripped the willow à la francaise and then attempted the Gay Gordon and the Military 2 Step. I use "attempted" advisedly!
The evening was enormous fun and it was only at 2am that we finally left only to discover four inches of snow had fallen and was rapidly turning to slush. As a result the drive home took 90 minutes and we finally fell into bed at about 3.30am. Wow, a party to remember!