Bill “Loppy” Ramsay

by untangledwebl
Vice President
1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988
Proposer of the Toast “The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns” 1979
Reply to the Toast “The Guests and Artistes”  1984,  1986
Reply to the Toast “The Artistes”  1993
Proposer of the Toast “Let it Blaw” – the Balerno Burns Club  1995

Bill Ramsay, known as “Loppy” by all, was born in Balerno in 1923. He first appeared in the records of ‘Let it Blaw’ when the Club reconvened in the mid-1950s but not, as you might expect, as a Club Member. In those days, Loppy worked as a barman for Bob Turnbull who was the landlord of the Malleny Arms.

Loppy had talked Bob into letting him carry the haggis into the Supper behind the piper each year. Those who knew Loppy,  might uncharitably think the dram on the Haggis Table had something to do with his enthusiasm. However he came to be given the job, the Club Secretary of the day thought it important enough to record his participation in Club records.

Loppy was one of the Founder Members of the Marchbank Burns Club in 1959 and later joined ‘Let it Blaw’ c.1966. He was famed for his rendition of  ‘Holy Willie’s Prayer’ dressed in gownie and invariably accompanied by a mask which (by design perhaps) made it completely impossible to know what he was saying. The photo below was of a Marchbank Burns Club Supper, late 1980s, at which Loppy’s performance started outside in the car park in sub-zero temperatures, as diners came in/out the restaurant, and while someone else was giving a speech or whatever at the Supper. 

He would eventually wander through the ‘normal’ diners into the Supper by which time the place would be in uproar.

The photo below shows one end of the top table of ‘Let it Blaw’ at the Kestrel Hotel in the early 90s. Seated with Loppy were landlord Dougie Blyth and Ron Hardy. Almost always back then, the Chairman would invite Loppy (usually late evening) to give the company some local stories about characters from ‘Let it Blaw.’ This was when you appreciated the extent to which he’d missed his true vocation by not doing stand-up comedy as a profession.

Many will remember Loppy’s part in the chaotic and frequently performed Willie Brew’d a Peck o’ Maut with Jimmy Johnstone and Jack McCaig. When Loppy decided he was getting too old for the rough and tumble of the “performances,” he was replaced by Alex Hood. But, not one to hog the background, Loppy invented a fourth part as a barman who served drams at the end of every verse.

As can be seen below, Loppy’s new fourth part still ended up with him on the floor with his drams going in all directions.

Loppy was a ‘huge’ character; one of those who could tell a perfectly ordinary story and have everyone roaring with laughter. What better epitaph ?

But wait, perhaps we should end with a long overdue thank you to Kestrel Hotel landlord Dougie Blyth who, not once, charged anything for Loppy’s drams; year after year.