President of Blackpool Masonic Club Colin Goodwin hosts a ‘President’s Evening’ each year and has, for a number of years combined the event with a celebration of ‘Burns’ Night’. Steadily over the years, the popularity of the evening has increased and brethren and guests have revelled in the poetry of the bard.
Natives of Burns’ homeland and aliens alike came together in Blackpool’s Masonic Hall to celebrate the birth of ‘Scotland’s favourite son’, Robert Burns, in a spirit charged with fun and friendship – and plenty of the national tipple of Scotch whisky as well of course!
The dining suite had been adorned with tartans and national flags while further authenticity of a Burns’ Night was secured in true Scottish style by enlisting the services of Caledonian Jim Harper to recite the ‘Address to a Haggis’.
Led into the dining room by a suitably attired Scots piper in national dress, the sacred haggis was held on high by the chef and paraded around the hall while the assembled diners applauded in time with the rousing musical accompaniment until it came to rest at its allocated pedestal. Jim gazed with due reverence at its splendour – a moment that any hot-blooded Scotsman will relish.
Sporting his dashing national dress and with his cap perched in a jaunty manner, Jim enthusiastically launched into the recital and armed with his traditional dirk, plunged it vehemently into the ‘Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race’ with the fervour and ceremonial pomp that the sacrificial fare demands. Up went a roar! Glasses of the ‘water o’ life’ were raised aloft in tribute to the pudding while the piper continued to provide fitting accompaniment. Robbie Burns would have been overcome with pride at the spectacle.
Following the traditional ‘Selkirk Grace’, a superb meal of piping hot cock-a-leekie soup; traditional haggis, neeps and tatties; not-so-traditional roast beef and Yorkshire pudding provided generous sustenance for the festivities. And all the while, the whisky continued to flow freely!
Scottish observers may frown at the concept of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding being included in a Burns’ supper fare but Lancashire Masons can only endure a limited degree of authenticity – and denying them their roast beef and Yorkshire pudding would be going a step too far. Any inaccuracy in the feasting of an erroneous menu was more than made up for by the consumption of huge quantities of genuine Scottish whisky!
The celebrations were hearty and exuberant. Desultory chit-chat, laughter and merriment were in abundance. Masons, non-Masons, lady Masons, friends and family made up a diverse throng in which there were brethren from a wide spectrum of lodges. But there was a common thread. They were all intent on having a good time.
Diffidence was absent or suppressed amongst them. There were no shrinking violets or, as Robbie Burns may have reported, ‘there were nae tim’rous beasties’ within the throng. Boisterous would be a befitting description of the horde.
Having consumed the plentiful banquet, the revellers paid tribute to ‘Scotland’s ploughman poet’ with a hearty and sincere toast. The whisky continued to flow and the energy and fun of the evening became even more prominent.
In closing the formal dinner, president of the Masonic Club Colin Goodwin invited the throng to join him in the comfort of the lounge bar for additional entertainment and further liquid refreshment; feeling well satisfied that the evening had, again, been a major success.
Colin has combined his ‘President’s Evening’ with a ‘Burns’ Night’ for a number of years and as a measure of the events’ successes, he is now affectionately labelled the ‘Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race’. Congratulations Colin on another super night and the brethren eagerly look forward to next year’s revel.