More (or Less) Toast

Ordinarily at this time on a Thursday evening, at least during the winter months, I’d be out at Scottish Dancing with the Caernarvonshire and Anglesey Caledonian Society (of which I am the chairman).  This week, however, we have a different activity taking place tomorrow so there is no dancing tonight.

The alternative activity in question is our Burns Night dinner, which this year is actually taking place on Burns Night as it happens to fall on a Friday (I’m not sure why we always have our dinner on a Friday, but that’s the way it is).  Unlike last year, I’m not due to be giving any of the toasts (probably just as well as I’m still recovering from having lost my voice due to a bad cold the other week), but in my role as chairman I will get the pleasure of introducing them as well as the after-dinner speaker.  I don’t yet know who is doing the toasts, or who the speaker is, so those will be nice surprises.  I am expecting that, as usual, Lyn (our dance teacher and the president of the Society) will be reciting Burns’ ode to the haggis at the start of the meal, which is always one of my highlights of the evening (as is eating the haggis, washed down with a wee dram of whisky and accompanied by neeps and tatties).

Incidentally, dancing will be restarting next Thursday night and is due to run every week until Easter (and then a few beyond).  It starts at 7:30pm and takes place at Canolfan Penrallt in Bangor.  We’re always happy to welcome new people along so if you’re in the Bangor area and fancy giving it a go you’d be very welcome.

Toasting the Lassies

The rebirth of this blog came just too late for this year’s Burns Night.

As it happens, I didn’t do anything special on the day itself (25th January) to mark the occasion but I did go to a Burns Night dinner last week.  In fact, as the chairman of the Caernarfonshire and Anglesey Caledonian Society, I was effectively the MC for the evening (as a fringe benefit, I got a seat of honour at the top table and was liberally supplied with whisky for the toasts).

This was my third Burns Supper as the chair of the Caledonian Society and I think the fifth that I’ve been to.  This year, in addition to introducing the toasts, I got the chance to deliver one of them myself – the Toast to the Lassies.  This is described in one of the online sources I turned to for help on writing the speech, greatspeech.co.uk, as “one of the essential speeches at any Burns’ Supper” and is supposed to “poke fun … at the foibles and idiosyncrasies (real and imagined) of the fairer sex” as well as to make some references to Robert Burns and his relationship with the lassies.

I finished my speech with one of the best tributes I could find to the fairer sex, which was a couple of stanzas quoted from one of Burns’ own poems:

“Green grow the rashes, O,
Green grow the rashes, O;
The sweetest hours that e’er I spend,
Are spent amang the lasses O!”

“Auld nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes O;
Her prentice han’ she tried on man
An’ then she made the lasses O.”