A trip to the enchanting Wirral peninsula proved a highlight for a number of brethren from Blenheim Lodge No 7519, accompanied by friends and family for their annual Burns Supper. It was held in the magnificent Hulme Hall, situated within the stunning garden village of Port Sunlight, which was built by prominent Freemason Lord Lever.
The first ever Burns Supper was held in July 1801 when nine of Burns’ close friends got together to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend’s death. Taking place at Burns Cottage in Alloway, the night included a tasty meal (haggis, of course), performances of Burns’ work and a speech in honour of the great Bard (now known as the Immortal Memory).
As the night was such a resounding success, the friends they decided to hold it again (this time in honour of Rabbie’s birthday), beginning the tradition that has now spread worldwide to this day and adopted some years ago by the members of Blenheim Lodge.
Blenheim’s supper began with all settled in readiness and anticipation as the haggis entered in processional splendour, preceded by a trio of pipers and followed by the master of ceremonies for the evening Mark Crawford.
With his ‘address to the haggis’, Mark enthralled the audience, even more so when brandishing the dirk with an admirably accomplished hand as he attacked the wee defenceless creature with gusto, to accompanying screams of delight by some onlookers.
While the mortal remains of the poor unfortunate wee beastie was removed to the kitchen, there to be equally shared onto clinically clean porcelain platters, the expectant banqueters had the added delight of listening to Bob Walters and two youngsters display their dexterity and mastership of the great highland bagpipe. The youngest of the two sisters played a faultless solo piece during the well-known tune Amazing Grace and may one day in the future go on to bear the proud title of ‘Pipe Major’.
With regard to the formalities during the evening, the ‘toast to the lassies’ was given by the Blenheim senior warden Ian Turner, while his partner Sue Matthews gave the ‘lassies response’. The ‘Immortal Memory’ was given in entertaining and indomitable style by Jim Cummings, with partner Toni sitting nearby emanating quiet and encouraging support.
Any person who has been required to render the ‘Immortal Memory’ will know the difficulties that can arise in constructing a piece showing flair and originality, Jim accomplished both magnificently, keeping the audience enthralled throughout.
During the evening the revellers were entertained throughout by the Merseyside based Celtic Knot Ceilidh Band, consisting of Pete Hodge on melodeon, Sandy Bryson on bouzouki, Val Owen on percussion and Peter Morgan on fiddle. Later in the evening they would have the floor filled with their caller encouraging those willing and able to take to part in the Scots flavoured country dancing.
The evening came to a close with everyone gathered in the centre of the room for Auld Lang Syne. In 1788 Robert Burns sent the poem ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to the Scots Musical Museum, indicating that it was an ancient song but that he’d been the first to record it on paper. The phrase ‘Auld Lang Syne’ roughly translates as ‘for old times’ sake’ and the song is all about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year. A most fitting end, until next year.