Over 200 club members and guests were welcomed by Dr Rusty Smith to the 256th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.
Celebrated at the Meadowbank Inn on Friday, Dr Smith, in his third year as president of Arbroath Burns Club, in particular welcomed past president Bill Braid to his first supper as honorary president of the club.
This year’s principal ‘Toast to the Immortal of the Bard’ was proposed by Sheriff Alexander (Sandy) Jessop from Montrose.
Sandy who is also a past president of Montrose Burns Club, commenced his Toast by thanking Rusty and the Arbroath Club for their support of the Montrose Club in the past year.
Sheriff Jessop began his oration with his view that Burns possessed and expressed in his songs and poems a little bit of us all.
He told of how Dewars, the whisky company, had paid £75,000 for an old very worn table, that most of us would not have given house room to, as it was at this desk that Burns had written most of his wondrous works at.
This being only one example of the esteem in which Burns is held more than 250 years after his birth.
Burns during his short life produced a prodigious output of songs and verse with the most remarkable element of the tale, being the incredible variety.
The Bard lived a life of light and shade and he did not hide his triumphs or his failings. He was, as is all documented, a womaniser, but a self-confessed one, who could still extoll the virtues of a stable relationship.
It is this ability to embrace his own faults, as much as the ability to write some of the most romantic love songs and epic poems, that has enabled his enduring memory to be appreciated and honoured throughout the world, not merely in his native land.
In reading and listening to Rabbie one can warm to his strengths, but also be comforted by his weaknesses.
He had the wonderful knack of being able to reflect with ease all his personal experiences and passion in his songs and also his acute observances in his prose.
The members and guests gave Sheriff Jessop a standing ovation at the end of his superbly crafted Toast.
President Rusty presented Sandy with an engraved quaich as a memento of his visit to the Arbroath Club and thanked him for giving up his usual attendance at the Montrose Club to be the principal speaker at the Meadowbank.
The ‘Toast to the Lassies’ was in the hands of the second member of the legal fraternity, James R. Robertson from Airdrie, now assistant Procurator Fiscal in Edinburgh, who carried out his task with great wit and enthusiasm.
James was the second past president of a Burns Club to speak at the supper, being formerly of Airdrie Burns Club.
Mr Robertson had his audience in stitches for much of his Toast with his pawky humour and turn of phrase.
He had been fascinated by, in particular, the love songs of Burns from an early age and noted that the Bard had in fact written his first love poem when he was only 14.
He reminded the audience that although the poet was a ladies man he was also very definitely a man’s man.
Most of all Burns, he was quite convinced, exuded style to both men and women. Burns loved the lassies but they loved him too.
The ‘Reply to the Toast to the Lassies’ was given in his inimitable style by the last of the night’s legal triumvirate, Sheriff Lindsay Wood.
Lindsay, formerly a partner with local solicitors Thorntons, is currently a Sheriff in Glasgow and made a welcome return to the club having spoken some 11 years previously.
Another fine wit, Sheriff Wood delighted the company with a great array of stories, many from the annals of Glasgow Sheriff court, but was not remiss in ensuring that the lassies were not omitted from his discourse.
Having said that though, he was entirely sure that they, especially in the 21st century, were more than ever able to reply for themselves.
The ‘Selkirk Grace’ commencing the supper, was said by Bob Smith, vice president.
The haggis was addressed with panache by head croupier Don Clark and was carried by club member Forbes Szatan.
Secretary Peter Black advised that he had received and exchanged greetings with Burns Clubs all over the world.
Peter also confirmed that the next celebration of the birth of the Bard would be held in the Meadowbank on January 22, 2016, when the Immortal Memory would be proposed by Dr Peter Hughes who would at that time be the president of the World Burns Federation.
Stuart Cargill delighted all with his second recitation of the Tam o’Shanter, and this was followed by great recitations, firstly of ‘For ‘a that and ‘a that’ by past president Frank Ferguson and then ‘To a Louse’ by President Rusty.
In the absence of musical arranger Alan Mowatt, the club singers, led by Douglas Cant, entertained the members and guests.
Douglas was well supported by Alec Whitton, Jonathan Milne and Stuart Cargill, and ably accompanied by pianist Sandy Yule and piper Michael Thain.
A hearty vote of thanks by new committee member, Jim Hammond rounded off a superb evening.
Jim gave thanks to all those who had contributed to a most enjoyable night and paid tribute to the first class service from the staff of the Meadowbank Inn.
And each took off his several way, resolved to meet some ither day.