Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Burns Supper an Amazing Damask and a Spooky Observation

A few weeks ago, we hosted a Burns Supper for a group of sixteen friends. The table took a bit of time and trouble to get right - what with candles, Burns napkins (had to scour Glasgow for those - couldn't find any in Ayrshire, though doubtless there were some, just not where I was looking!) tartan ribbons for the whisky bottles and heather from the garden - there is always heather of some sort in bloom in the garden even in February. I used one of the Scottish Home's tablecloths, an enormous banqueting cloth which has been sitting in my 'stock cupboard' for a couple of years, and which I have not yet brought myself to sell, partly because I always suspected it would come in handy one day. It is a lovely, lovely old damask, with a stunning design of game birds, stags and so on woven into it, and I reckon it probably came from a hunting lodge somewhere, and was used for those mammoth dinners that people would once have had after a day out on the hills. It is truly enormous - you can see just how big, from the picture on the left: 12 feet long by just under 8 feet wide. Unfortunately it does have a little damage, mostly along the edges, one or two worn places, and a few very small cuts, but nothing that anybody noticed while it was in use.
We provided the venue, the cock a leekie soup (traditional, with prunes) home made oat bread, potatoes and cheese. The rest of the meal was brought by assorted friends, including haggis, home made steak pie, and three spectacular trifles, all different. As we sat there over coffee, there was a sudden power cut, but since we had a great many candles already lit, nobody much cared. There is a sense in which this old house comes to life when the electricity goes off. I always feel it, and it seemed peculiarly powerful that night. When our guests had left, I pottered about by candlelight, gathering up glasses and dishes. I paused in the sitting room, listening - and as always, felt that there are people living here still who prefer candlelight. The next day, I wrote a poem about it.


Piping Girl said...

Sounds like you had a great Burns Dinner. I'm curious to kwhow what Burns napkins look like, did they have a Burns quote on them?

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Yes - they are paper napkins, usually with a picture of the poet and appropriate quotes from his poetry. I suppose damask napkins would have been more authentic, but it's quite nice to have a few lines of poetry on the table!