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January 25, 2005



Mrs. P, first off I have a bit of information for you. As you were asking about the Scottish contribution to Western Civilisation the other day, I thought I would direct your attention to a very learned and perceptive work entitled: "How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Scotland Created Our World and Everything in It." This must-have volume is authored by Arthur Herman an apparently brilliant historian. (By the way, the book is available in paperback which means you can get it cheap.)

Among other matters, I'm quite certain it's in this book that the real story of the great Tory leader, Benjamin D'Israeli, is told. His real name was Benjamin MacRaely. What happened was that certain highly placed guiding influences in the Tory party realized they needed MacRaely's help badly, but they also realized that owing to the conceit, insecurity, bigotry and general pig-headedness of the English it would be difficult to gain acceptance of a Scot. Therefore, it was decided that MacRaely would have to be disguised as an Italian Jew named D'Israeli so as not to be a threat to the English. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Now then, to other matters.

I am quite surprised, Mrs. P, that you apparently are aware of Burns Night. But then, you continually surprise me.

Burns Night is an occasion for much celebrating (drinking) and good cheer (more drinking) and is beloved by all real Scots (yet more drinking).

I have been invited to the Royal and Ancient by my good friend Gordon Maconochie. I've graciously accepted the invite (meaning I fully appreciate that I'll be able to drink and eat and drink the whole evening long for free). And at the Royal and Ancient this means only the best whisky and beef for old Monty (and, yes, haggis as well). And what's particularly appealing about the evening is that I'll be able to act appallingly without fear for the consequences since I'll know nary a bugger there but Gordon --and he is always more drunk than I and mercifully oblivious to my indiscretions. Not that it would matter a wit. Gordon, in his own right, is admirably equipped to offend all and sundry and many is the time I've seen him at it.

One of his finest moments was several years ago when he was in full regaling of several patrons of The Naughty Widow and, just as he was reaching the climax of his story, he took ill and was forced to vomit in his own cupped hands. So thoughtful of his audience was he, that he refused to excuse himself for a quick wash-up in the loo until he had finished his tale.

But that's not the end of it. Having finished, Gorden did not bother to retire to the loo, but, instead, merely wiped his hands on his wife, Cecilia's, back as she was leaning on the bar. He then took the time to finish his pint, after which he told Cecilia that she smelled like puke and should go home and wash up. When she objected, he calmly instructed her on the proper attitude and duty of a wife toward her husband and sent her on her way with an admonition not to reappear until she smelt better and had enough money to buy him another couple of pints.

That was the last Gordon saw of Cecilia until he was forced to appear in court to answer her divorce petition. Now Gordon would not normally distinguish such goings on with his presence (as he finds such things unseemly and has a particular distaste for solicitors and barristers and the like) but he condescended to appear, as he pointed out to me, only for the purpose of protecting his property from the ravages of an over emotional "wronged" woman.

I think you'll have to agree that in Gordon I have found the perfect mate for an evening of drinking to the memory of Bobby Burns. I hope you and Mr. P likewise have a memorable evening of whisky, haggis, cakes, and whisky. And, while you're at it, pour me one, love.


Mrs. Peperium

Thank you Monty. You continually surprise me as well. I can't believe I forgot about St. Andrews started by the Catholics...Both the club and the University. So Catholic Scottishmen have made great contributions to Western Civilization...As far as my knowledge of Burns Night - that's an easy one. I'm of Scottish descent. My paternal grandfather (about 13 greats ago) was in the military and first sent by George III to Ireland. You know the aftermath of Cromwell and all those problems with the Catholics...Then the colonies got uppity and he was reassigned to America to fight those pests. Well, they captured him on Long Island. They very kindly gave him two options; your life or Nova Scotia. Since he was young and still in posession of most of his teeth, he chose Nova Scotia. The family stayed up there until the late, late 19th century and then began the migration south stopping first in Portland, Maine and then on to Boston. When I found myself married to Mr. P and living in a part of our country with little to do if you are not fascinated by the automobile, I undertook studying the regional food of New England and Great Britain. Haggis and Burns Night eventually popped up. But it was Monjo who reminded me about it being today. (He celebrates it regularly) I do have a recipe for haggis but will probably never attempt it unless Scotland decides Mr. P is a worthy bard. The chopping up of beef heart would undo me. Have a lovely time at the Royal and Ancient. I did not realize the company we keep on our blog...If Clarrissa Dickson Wright is there, please give her my regards. But don't vomit on her.

Mrs. Peperium

Remind Gordie that Clarissa is a distinguished barrister and a member of Lincoln's Inn besides being the authority on Scottish food. On second thought perhaps you both should steer clear of her altogther. If I have time in the next few days I'll post her butterscotch tart recipe.


Aye and now I have to go to the shops in 7minutes when I finish work.
Make that 6minutes...

Mrs. Peperium

Monjo, do you make your own haggis or do your make do with the canned version? Months back the Scotsman did a feature on the family that makes the canned variety. The canned variety is becoming more and more popular throughout the British Isles. Some of the reasoning for the rise in popularity was the television program, "Monarch of the Glen". But really it probably has much more to do with fewer and fewer young women attempting to make haggis. The haggis makers are a dying breed.


I dont have a young woman attempting to make haggis for me. I am happy for any arranged marriage to address this problem :P
My haggis isn't in a tin can, but comes in a synthetic skin (which is probably plastic, I will check tonight), which is then cooked in boiling water for 45minutes or something. Its fresh as it needs refridgeration and it tastes damned good.

Never saw the programme, Monarch of the Glen. I have had haggis for the past 3 years since a housemate at Uni had some. So I thought I'll give that a try.

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