The Haggis


Most people appear to have shaken off the excesses of the ‘festive season’. Here in St. Mary on the Wold the local hotel has moved on to the next big event on the calendar which, in their case, is Burns night. I’m not sure why, it could be that the owner has connections to Scotland or something or perhaps is trying to give us some cultural education but either way I’m sure the Burn Night supper will be a welcome change for diners who have enjoyed festive candle lit dinners for two or more over the last month of  Christmas Fare and New Year’s Eve. Culinary delights this time include Haggis of course and there are the usual vegan, vegetarian and gluten free meals available four courses and only £20. 

Burns Night obviously is a very big deal in Scotland and it seems getting bigger each year here too, perhaps it’s the Nicola Sturgeon effect and all the talk of Scottish independence that is fuelling interest, who knows, but I certainly can’t remember so much interest by locals in years gone  by. Maybe it’s just a commercial thing here designed to get more diners into the hotel restaurant and bedrooms – which will presumably be needed by revellers after the traditional whisky tasting. 

We are, after all, 400 miles from the border here without any particular connection, although I did see a couple of homes in St. Mary proudly flying the ‘Saltire’ today. I wonder if that would meet with the approval or otherwise of that MP who had something to say about people flying the Cross of St. George which caused a bit of a stir at the time, but she has said recently that her comments were misunderstood or taken out of contents or something.  It’s difficult to remember what these political elite say these days as they change their minds so quickly and churn out so much drivel.   

Anyway if you are not sure what Burns Night is about or when it’s celebrated, there are several  articles in the media along the lines of ‘What we know about Burns Night so far’ or ‘Ten things you should know about Burns Night’ and even ‘When is Burns Night’, which you may find helpful. Or you could, like many people, just enjoy a convivial supper with friends and family or wait until the next ‘big day’ February 14th Valentine’s Day when more candlelit dining will be available presumably this time without the Haggis.  Appropriate cards and gifts are now in the shops, some even non gender specific.

We’ve moved on from ‘the  festive season’ at home and now the decorations and cards have been either dispatched to the recycling bin or carefully packed in their storage boxes and replaced in the loft until next year, along with all the memories that such articles invoke: ‘be careful with that bauble, we’ve had that since I was ten, it’s a memory of our family Christmas tree at home with Mom and Dad’, and:  ‘don’t throw that away, little John made that when he was at primary school.’ The fact that little John is now forty years of age and has two teenage children himself is neither here nor there, except of course in that special box marked memories that, like it or not, we all have.

One of the treats (or horrors, depending on what you remember at this time of year) is, of course opening that particular box and in many cases either wishing you hadn’t or being glad that you had as the case maybe. Judging by the many reports of violence and general mayhem on the streets reported in the media over the holiday, many people will have had experiences that they would most likely wish to forget. It’s a sad fact that many relationships come to an end at this time of the year, maybe it’s something to do with lack of daylight, dismal weather and the expense of it all. Interestingly the final straw maybe the advent of spring that brings with it a rise in depression and anxiety for many people.

Let’s hope most of what you remember will be ‘good’ and pleasant.

It’s odd how many people have such clear memories of the past or say they have, although anyone who has had to interview and take statements from witnesses of some event (pleasant or not) will tell you otherwise. Memories can be very faulty or non-existent. Ask a regular viewer of a TV programme or reader of a favourite newspaper what happened two or three weeks ago, and few will be able to give you accurate details. There are exceptions, what baby boomer can’t tell for example where and what they were doing when John F Kennedy was assassinated or when they heard that John Lennon had been murdered. Ask what they were doing on, say the 10th of January 2000 at 10am or some date say last April, and few would have any recall. It seems you must have the memory of a member of a Royal Family or Political dynasty to have that amount of detailed recall.

I’m told that most will be able to recall with a certain amount of accuracy, some events that they witnessed or were involved up to around twenty-five years ago.  Any longer is most likely to be conjecture or rose-tinted glasses syndrome. I’m always suspicious of people who tell me how their school days were the best time of their lives, which suggests to me that they have not done much since, someone in their mid-fifties who can relate events of forty years ago is either very unusual or has little else to remember.

[To be continued with Part 2 tomorrow]


Photo by Euan Slorach

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