1996 – “Letter Frae America”

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Bard’s Oration 1996 

Letter Frae America 

 

In a year gone by, amid frost and snaw,

I aince attended “Let it Blaw”,

As a guest of Dave Tanner – now departed,

At his passing I was broken hearted,

For it was thanks tae him and Willie Shanks,

That I entered Balerno Burns Club’s ranks:

And weel I mind my first “Let it Blaw,

In the majesty o’ the village ha,’

Met by J. Mathers at the door,

Selling his whisky and beer galore,

Willie checking doon his list,

And paying your money into his kist:

Taking yir seat in twa lang rows,

The “Selkirk Grace”, heads bowed, eyes closed.

 

It really was a great occasion,

A young lad ca’d Ogston did the oration,

The minister of the local kirk,

He spoke o’ Rabbie’s life and work;

Intriguing baith the brothers Rankin,

When it came’ tae Burns they weren’t wantin’,

For they performed in verse and song,

Tae the enjoyment o’ the assembled throng;

Broon the Sweep was also there,

Eddie McCue was in the Chair.

 

McLeod was there a keeper by craft,

In Aran jersey wi a “Fore and Aft,”

And after they had served the broth,

Jim Nixon fell asleep on the table cloth;

Bert simply shook his heid

And said tae his neebor “pass up his breid”,

The sweet quavering voice of Willie Wood,

Left me in a sombre mood:

McCaig was there in a’ his might,

Loppy recited “Tae a shite,

Malcolm Smith was a bit o a drag.

For he kept on lighting anither fag.

 

The nicht drave on wi’ sangs and clatter,

The laughter grew and so did the patter,

Cheeks grew rosy and bellies swelled

“Encore, encore” was often yelled,

As men stood up and did their bit

Gave of their best and gloried in it

Happiness spread through yin and a’,:

We were proud tae be members of “Let it Blaw”;

Friendship was present throughout that night,

As guid harmony cam fae the left and the right,

Cronies we were then, hear my vow,

Never an angry word or blow. 

 

Weel I mind o that grand nicht,

An the following morning – what a sicht,

For I looked in the mirror and there I saw,

The results of a nicht at “Let it Blaw.”

I’ve attended many a supper since then,

At the top table and amang the men,

Introduced wee Lionel Sparrow

Kept Ron Hardy on the straight and narrow:

But cronies, this year don’t expect us,

For I’m here wi’ Lionel, deep in Texas:

Yet, certes, I can tell you this,

We’ll think aboot your nicht o’ bliss,

And send good wishes, but there’s a rub,

We’ll need some bourbon tae “Toast the Club.”

 

Tae send this message I thought o’ tape,

Till the President said “Whit a stupid jape,”

And then I thocht o’ a video screen,

So ye micht see where I have been,

But the Treasurer made such a stink

For the cost was as much as the top table drink:

But he gave in and bore the gree

And now I’m here for all tae see

 

Then after thinking very hard,

I called for help from a fellow Bard,

Tae oor Jim Tait my thanks tae you,

And that’s a nip and a pint I’m due.

 

Sae while I ‘m missing the Supper this year,

Frae Jim, hear my call loud and clear,

I know it’s easy to be wise,

But to ane and a’ – Let’s harmonise!

Uphold traditions o’ Let it Blaw,

Join in friendship each and a’,

Remember suppers fae the past ,

And make sure this is no your last!

 

A last request permit me here

When yearly ye assemble a’

One round I ask it with a tear

To him, the Bard that’s far awa”

 

Jimmy Johnstone

January 1996

[Presented on a Video Recording due

To Jimmy being out of the Country]