Address to the Lassies

Some months ago, I was approached and asked by the organiser of our churches Burns Supper, and asked to present the “Address to the Lassies”. Without much thought or hesitation I said yes!!!!!!! One of those moments of confident valour!!!!

Now, I have never attended a formal Burns Supper before so simply being there was to be a first for me. As I researched the event I learned that this address is a toast to the lassies but I discovered that is it also supposed to be witty and not insulting to the fairer sex.

The enormity of this task began to sink in and I have to confess to feeling rather nervous about the forthcoming event and also what was to be my contribution to the evening’s entertainment. Of course in this internet age, my first instinct was to turn to the pages of the World Wide Web and Google for some education and guidance.

Happily there were many publications there and I was able to find some inspiration which combined, with the local context, allowed me to pull together my own “Address to the Lassies”. I am certain that without the many published pages on this subject I would not have been able to pull together a credible contribution. In recognition of that valuable resource that I found on the web I felt that I should publish my own script least it may serve to inspire future speakers who are charged with this same great responsibility!

So here it is……… This script is not a rendition of the precise delivery as some of it is highly abbreviated.

Address to the Lassies
Jim Buchan
24th January 2009
on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.

I am not accustomed to public speaking and further more this is the very first time I have attended a formal Burns supper. So to find out more about what is expected in this “Address to the Lassies” I did resort to the pages of the Internet for inspiration.

The Lassies had a profound effect on the live of the Robert Burn – Scotland’s favourite poet, I want to highly only three woman who had an impact on his early development and eventual course in life.

Mother Agnes Broun
o Love of songs and ryme
o Sat young Robert on her knee – and sang him songs
o She earned working in the fields
o Many of these songs learned from Will Nelson her boyfriend – never written down.

Betty Davidson
o Another influence
o Old friend of the family who often visited
o Great story teller about witches and warlocks
o Might this have been part of the influence that inspired him to write “Tam O Shanter”

First Love – Nelly Kilpatrick (14)
o Daughter of local Blacksmith
o Burns was 15
o It was with her in mind that he wrote the following words

“O once I lov’d a bonnie lass,
Aye, and I love her still;
And whilst that virtue warms my breast,
I’ll love my handsome Nell.”

Burns later wrote about this rhyme:

“I never had the least thought or inclination of turning poet till I got once heartily in love, and then rhyme and song were, in a manner, the spontaneous language of my heart. I remember I composed it in a wild enthusiasm of passion, and to this hour I never recollect it but my heart melts, and my blood sallies at the remembrance.”.

It is well known that Burns had many more acquaintances and affairs with members of the fairer sex. These are too numerous for me to recount here! But I can refer you to a good Web Page which provides an excellent summary!

http://www.worldburnsclub.com/expert/the_lassies_who_inspired_burns.htm

So if it were it not for the Lassies in his life, Burns might never have been inspired to produce such a written legacy as he did.

Women play a key part in Mens lives – even today!!!!!

I am reminded about the story of old Sandy who was lying on his dying bed with his his wife Maggie kneeling tenderly by his bedside,
She asked softly:
‘Is there anything I can get you, Sandy?’
There was “No reply.”

‘Have ye no’ a last wish, Sandy?’
Faintly, came the answer. . .
‘a wee bit of yon boiled ham would nice.’

‘Wheesht, man,’ said Maggie,
‘ye ken fine that’s bought in for the funeral.’

About the local lassies of Kemnay:

But I wanted to take a few moments to remember the sterling work done by the volunteer workers who provide the catering service here at the Church Centre and Coffee Shop. I often think that it would be great to be a fly on the wall in the kitchen and listen them chatter as they joyfully prepare the next meal!

In fact, I happened to wonder in there one day and I over heard three of the chattering – the conversation went something like this!!!!

{now the three lassies referred to here are real characters and are prominent of the local community here}

Ann Brown – “You know, I’m getting really forgetful. This morning, I was standing at the top of the stairs, and I couldn’t remember whether I had just come up or was about to go down.”

Jean Walker “You think that’s bad? The other day, I was sitting on the edge of my bed, and I couldn’t remember whether I was going to bed or had just woken up!”

Then Neil McKay chimed in and said, “Well, my memory’s just as good as it’s always been, touch wood” (she says as she raps on the counter)

Then with a startled look on her face, she looked towards the door and said, “Who’s there?”

But seriously I wanted to take this opportunity to mention the great work – which is often unseen and unheard – that the catering team and coffee shop volunteers do and to acknowledge the great contribution they have made to the work takes place here every week!

Getting back to Burns
Of course Burns was a great man for the lassies! He was married and we know that Marriage is a partnership! Where the lady does the cooking and the man eats the food etc…. Actually in our house I always seem to get the washing up to do!

I am reminded of a story which illustrates this partnership approach very well!!!!

A wife and her husband were having a dinner party for all the major status figures in Rome, Italy.

The wife was very excited about this and wanted everything to be perfect. At the very last minute, she realized that she didn’t have any snails for this dinner party (I can relate to this as its often the case that when Mary is preparing a meal for friends that some essential ingredient is missing at just the last minute) , so she asked her husband to run down to the beach with the bucket she was handing him to gather some snails.

Very grudgingly he agreed – dragging him self away from the TV programme what he was watching.

He took the bucket, walked out the door, down the steps, and out to the beach. As he was collecting the snails, he noticed a beautiful woman walking alongside the water just a little further down the beach. He kept thinking to himself “Wouldn’t it be great if she would even just come down and talk to me.” Well, a Man’s a Man for a that ! He went back to gathering the snails.

All of a sudden he looked up, and the beautiful woman was standing right over him. They got to talking, and she invited him back to her place.

They were at her apartment a ways down the beach, and they started messing around. It got so hot and heavy, that he was exhausted afterwards and passed out there.

At seven o’clock the next morning he woke up and exclaimed, “Oh no! My wife’s dinner party!”

He gathered all his clothes, put them on really quickly, grabbed his bucket, and ran out the door.

He ran down the beach all the way to his apartment. He ran up the stairs of his apartment. He was in such a hurry that when he got to the top of the stairs, he dropped the bucket of snails.

There were snails all down the stairs. The door opened just then, with a very angry wife scowling and standing in the doorway wondering where he’s been all this time.

He looked at the snails on the steps, then he looked at her, then back at the snails and said – “Come on guys, we’re almost there!”

Burns was a great womens man of that there seems to be no doubt! But then God was a great womans man too by providing a companion for Adam! Here is another take on the story of the garden of Eden.

One day in the Garden of Eden, Eve calls out to God, “Lord, I have a problem!”

“What’s the problem, Eve?”

“Lord, I know you’ve created me and have provided this beautiful garden and all of these wonderful animals, and that hilarious comedy snake, but I’m just not happy.”

“Why is that, Eve?” came the reply from above.

“Lord, I am lonely. And I’m sick to death of apples.”

“Well, Eve, in that case, I have a solution. I shall create a man for you.”

“What’s a ‘man’, Lord?”

God said, “This man will be a flawed creature, with aggressive tendencies, an enormous ego and an inability to empathize or listen to you properly. All in all, he’ll give you a hard time. But, he’ll be bigger and faster and more muscular than you. He’ll be really good at fighting and kicking a ball about and hunting fleet-footed ruminants, and not altogether bad in the sack.”

“Sounds great,” says Eve, with an ironically raised eyebrow.

God says, “Yeah, well. He’s better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick. But, you can only have him on one condition.”

“What’s that, Lord?”

“You’ll have to let him believe that I made him first.”

But I finish with these words of wisdom from Burns great Bard himself!!!!

Auld Nature
Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes, O;
Her prentice han’ she try’d on man,
An’ then she made the lasses, O.

The Toast
Lift your cup and drain it well,
For these are truths that I do tell.
No man is whole without his bride,
Without companion by his side.
A loving hand, an encouraging smile,
Someone to stay and bide a while,
Someone to keep him on the path,
Someone to curb his rising wrath.
A partner, loving, true, and good.
One he could heed as well he could.
A man needs comfort from all strife.
A man needs a lassie to be his wife.
I give you then, good friends and fair–
To the Lassies! And their constant care.

Shevie Kader
30 January, 2000

Now I want to acknowledge the numerous web pages I read in putting this address together – thanks to all those other writers who published and shared their thoughts, wisdom and rhyme. In the event I really enjoyed my explorations through Google to refine my own ideas of what I needed to say – I found real entertainment in the research process and I hope that those who listened to the final product derived some of the same!

http://www.worldburnsclub.com/supper/burns_supper_1.htm
http://www.contractinteriors.co.uk/ecpb/AddresstoLadies.htm
http://www.maninaskirt.com/waltermcski/burns3lassies.htm
http://www.elspethmurray.com/Poems/poems_heartthrobby.htm
http://www.worldburnsclub.com/expert/the_lassies_who_inspired_burns.htm
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/257278/lassie_little_known_facts_about_.html?cat=2
http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=__eSeC8TOJc
http://www.milwburnsclub.org/bsupper/lasses.htm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/robertburns/burnsnight/running_order.shtml
I also found some useful jokes by searching on Google with the search string “Jokes about lassies” etc….