The Galley Club

Burns Night on 28 January 2020

Tuesday, 28 January 2020, 6:30 pm at The Water Rats, Gray’s Inn Road, Kings Cross.

Our annual turn-of-the-year Galley Club festivities returned to previous themes from our long history, hosting an alternative Burns Night on Tuesday, 28th January at The Water Rats with Big Alan Craig and friends …food, drink, poetry and song were involved.


Burns Night

The Burns Supper is a Scottish institution: a celebration of the life of Robert Burns. It is a gathering of friends.

Typical order of ceremony

  • Piping in the guests
  • Chairman’s welcome
  • The Selkirk Grace

A short but important prayer read to usher in the meal, The Selkirk Grace is also known as Burns’s Grace at Kirkcudbright. Although the text is often printed in English, it is usually recited in Scots.

                               Some hae meat and canna eat,

                               And some wad eat that want it,

                               But we hae meat and we can eat,

                               And sae the Lord be thankit.

  • Piping in the haggis

During the procession, guests clap in time to the music until the Haggis reaches its destination at the table. The music stops and everyone is seated in anticipation of the address To a Haggis.

  • Address to the haggis

The honoured reader now seizes their moment of glory by offering a fluent and entertaining rendition of To a Haggis. The reader should have his knife poised at the ready. On cue (His knife see Rustic-labour dight), he cuts the casing along its length, making sure to spill out some of the tasty gore within (trenching its gushing entrails).

Warning: Instances have been recorded of top table guests being scalded by flying pieces of haggis when enthusiastic reciters omitted a precautional initial cut to reduce pressure! Alternatively, the distribution of flying bits of haggis about the assembled company is regarded in some quarters as a part of the fun…

The recital ends with the reader raising the haggis in triumph during the final line Gie her a haggis!, which the guests greet with rapturous applause.

  • Toast to the haggis

Prompted by the speaker, the audience now joins in the toast to the haggis. Raise a glass and shout: The haggis! Then it’s time to serve the main course with its traditional companions, neeps and tatties.

  • The meal

Served with some suitable background music, the sumptuous Bill o’ Fare includes:-

o    Starter

Traditional cock-a-leekie soup;

o    Main course

Haggis, neeps & tatties (Haggis wi’ bashit neeps an’ champit tatties);

Variations do exist:  Vegetarians can of course choose vegetarian haggis, while pescatarians could opt for a seafood main course such as Cullen Skink.

  • The drink

Liberal lashings of wine or ale should be served with dinner and it’s often customary to douse the haggis with a splash of whisky sauce, which, with true Scots understatement, is neat whisky.

  • The immortal memory

The keynote speaker takes the stage to deliver a spell-binding oratoration on the life of Robert Burns: his literary genius, his politics, his highs and lows, his human frailty and – most importantly – his nationalism.

The speaker concludes with a heart-felt toast: To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns!

  • Toast to the Lassies

The humorous highlight of any Burns Night comes in this toast, which is designed to praise the role of women in the world today. This should be done by selective quotation from Burns’s works and should build towards a positive note.

The toast concludes: To the Lassies!

The final entertainment

The final course of the evening’s entertainment comprises more Burns readings.

  • Vote of thanks

The chair now climbs to his potentially unsteady feet to thank everyone who has contributed to a wonderful evening and to suggest that taxis will arrive shortly.

  • Auld Lang Syne

The chair closes the proceedings by inviting guests to stand and belt out a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne. The company joins hands and sings as one, having made sure to brush up on those difficult later lines.


Optional extras


These can slot into any part of the evening.

  • Lost Burns manuscripts
  • Quizzes and/or recitation competitions

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