This coming Friday, I’m due to be toasting the Lassies at a Burns Supper in Methlick. Over many years of haggis bashing at Burns Suppers across the country, it’s come to be the one that makes me the most nervous beforehand. By that, I of course mean that delivering that particular toast makes me apprehensive rather than being in Methlick for a Burns Supper, which will be a completely new experience for me.
My thinking is straightforward and follows years of listening to much better speakers. An immortal memory or a Toast to Scotland can follow a fairly set structure. However, there’s no rules for a Toast to the Lassies, except to be funny and not to offend anyone. Get it right, it’s a highlight of the evening. Misjudge it, and it’s hard to find your way back.
Even the addressing of the Haggis doesn’t always pass without incident. Withholding names to protect the guilty, I remember one occasion at a posh hotel in Edinburgh, where a former star of Grampian TV’s Scottish music shows was in full flow. Unfortunately, the moment he plunged in the knife was the very moment we found that the chef hadn’t secured the legs of the trestle table. Result? A front row of American tourists sprayed with stray haggis and whisky.
As it happens, I’ve got good reason to be toasting the lassies this week. All being well, the Thomson household expects to hear the patter of tiny feet some time in the summer. With the nesting syndrome kicking in fast, we’ve been engaged in some random acts of decorating in preparation for the new arrival. Junior must have some fresh wallpaper on which to scribble as soon as he/she is able, after all.
In this, we have cause to thank my other half’s brother, mother and her friend, who spent the weekend with us variously stripping walls, climbing ladders, hanging paper and running around with brushes. Even if we’re only about half way there, it’s allowed me to feel like Royalty. Not so much from opulence of the new decor as down to the smell of fresh paint which has been lingering in my nostrils everywhere I’ve gone over the past few days.
What it has left me with is a simmering dislike for whoever it was in our house’s history that thought it was a good idea to wallpaper over painted woodchip, which it’s probably fair to say splintered rather than peeled off the wall. Anyway, with a kitchen and living room to do, no major fall outs and a cat successfully kept separate from both paint and paste, I think we can regard last weekend’s operations as a success. Now, if I can just get my speech written and tax return finished by Friday...