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Tuesday 25 January 2011

How to Have the Best Burns Night Ever, Eh No?

Today's the proud day when the eyes of the world are upon my own wee home country of Scotchland. Och Aye and, let us not forget, the noo. All over the globe men, women and transgender folk are gathering round their i-pads to celebrate the birth/death/life (Note to research: check that will you? I've got cocktails at six, then Brahms at the Usher Hall) of our greatest shagger and poet/lyricist.

Yes, it's Marti Pellow Night! When citizens of the greatest small non-sovereign nation north of and attached to England join together to take heroin and sing "Ilikekickinginthegutter and-a Wishin' Ah Wiz Lucky", while mincin' aboot like they've goat a bad case o' piles.

But jings! Ah'm huvin ye's oan, so ah am! Marti Pellow night's no' till the morra right enuff, eh no? Tonight is of course Burns Night when, just fur a wee change, "supper" consists of oatmeal and the heart and lungs of lamb chopped and nestled in the stomach of a sheep, then boiled for 8 hours. I can see youse ur thinkin' "Oh, fur a nice bowl of Special K and a wee Blue Riband!" eh?

Noo, noo, dinnae get your sporran up yer erchie, sure the haggis n' neeps n'tatties is pure delish and us lot eat it a' year roon' (Ed: Good Christ, can you imagine?!)

But it has come to our attention here at The Absurdist Tartan Towers that a guid wheen o' folk dinnae ken how to put oan a Burns Supper! Michty! Whit would Andrew O'Hagan say? So, we've goat the gither to bring youse the pure definitive guide to the best and brawest Burns Night EVER!

The Food

Of course the traditional and aforementioned haggis (or in the plural haggisarium) is the centrepiece of the feast. Remember that it must be de-boned and thoroughly plucked before serving. Ask your local specialist Gaelic butcher to do this for you. Next the neep (or neeps, plural). Neep, more commonly known as turnip or "boak", is an orange root vegetable which should be vigorously boiled until it achieves the consistency of lumpy wet cardboard. You can smother it with butter and salt to bring out/disguise the flavour, but where's the fun in that? Finally, champit tatties which even youse eejits fae doon south surely cannae balls up.

Everything must be served either piping, PIPING, hot so that it sticks to the roof of your mouth, scarring the tender flesh thereof quite hideously, or, stone cold.

The Speeches

The most celebrated part of Burns Night where the works of the Great Brad (short for Bradley, Burns' middle name, not many people know that...) are given voice and life, and have been passed down through the generations like a peculiar genetic disorder.

Address to the Haggis
First The Address to the Haggis when a portly gentleman with a sizeable beer gut must bring on a minor stroke by bellowing "Fair fa' your honest sonsie face, Great Chieftain O' the Puddin Race" at the guests before stabbing the haggis, or haggisariearium if it's a large gathering, in the buttocks until blood is drawn or until the haggis concedes defeat. You can place a photo of First Minister Alex Salmond on the haggis if you wish, and if that is not freely available a picture of look-a-like X Factor contender Wagner will do just as well.

After the haggis has been disemboweled, the sheep's stomach casing is placed on the head while the assembled company sing "I Love a cookie, A Co-Operative cookie, You can tell it's Co-Operative by the smell. " (It is of course essential to correctly pronounce Co-operative, as "CO-PER-AY-TIVE"; or the thing doesnae scan and you will sound like a numpty.)

Toast to The Lassies
It's now time for a toast to the lassies. This is the point at which Andy Gray and Richard Keys denigrate the ladies present, ridiculing the notion that there were ever any great woman poets, ending with the famous line, "Emily Dickinson? Do me a favour love."

Response to the Toast to the Lassies
The women then respond to the toast either by giggling, feeling Andy's biceps and offering to give him his favourite fish tea, or by punching him to the ground, depending on whether or not the event is being held in the 21st century.

Finally all guests must stand and shout "Weel Done Cutty Sark!" while pulling the pony tail of the person to their left and sooking a Lee's macaroon bar.

And so, with the formal part of the ceremonies over, the company can now let their kilts oot and get on with the serious business of getting hammered on Scotmid blended whisky.

You do have some leeway in terms of entertainment for this final part of the evening. Old favourites include a screening of "An Audience with Billy Connolly", burning an effigy of Thatcher or a classic cabaret with Lulu belting out Deacon Blue's "Dignity" from atop a giant Tunnock's Tea Cake.

And so, as the evening draws to a close, all that remains to be done is join in one last rousing chorus of that great romantic ballad, "Stop Your Tickling Jock" and to take pride in this great and forward looking nation of ours, soon to have its very own digital TV channel if somebody would only stump up the readies.