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Burns' Night 2002 On and Off the Rails

Those who recall last year's report on the Clan's Burns Night celebrations at Milton Malsor will have heard what is now called "Lady Avril's Complaint". It was, she declared too much like hard work as well as real fun. So to alleviate her complaint, Year 2002 went to some considerable extent/ expense!

We booked a dozen seats on the Orient Express' Burns Special Journey and were piped aboard at Manchester Victoria station. We initially expected to steam to Scotland; then we thought maybe Cumbria but in the event the driver went to Llandudno and back in North Wales.

Notwithstanding, a very great time was had by all, indeed too much whisky from Orient Express was the undoing of many of us so no pictures from late on into the evening are available. All the pictures here relate to the dignified arrival and early socialising of the Clan members who made the trip, including Kathryn Yr of Prestoungrange's mother and father, Maureen and Duncan Sharp. The latter forgot to wear his very fine CBE, the topmost medal to adorn any Clan member. Kathryn herself came incognito with straight hair having used the latest technology to achieve the desired effect in the company of Mathew Yr of Prestoungrange.

Julian, Baron of Dolpinstoun and the future Lady Elizabeth were unfortunately absent skiing in Colorado. But many well know hardworking Clan members were there - Mike Cross and Molly Ainslie, Carol Oliver and the Baron Sergeand talked with Pamela Hartwell who was back in time from the Canaries, and a little later the Baron Sergeand joined Carol Cross for a photo call. And at the time of this picture Prestoungrange seems to have been calmly seated with Lady Avril.

The Orient Express conveyance, know in Manchester and thereabouts as The Northern Belle, was to the accustomed high standards, but the management's understanding of the opportunities a Burns Night affords was abysmal. Their use of whisky to blind us to all else was unworthy. There was indeed a piper who piped us aboard and piped in a rather indifferent haggis which apologised for its place on the platter amongst lamb. The musicians for the evening were a jazz group intent on playing New Orleans compositions and who had no overt or covert knowledge of any of the Bard's songs. And as for a poem or so, the public address system remained silent throughout the four hours aboard and the Ode to the Haggis was shortened to six lines.

Which was a great shame because we had taken along the elegantly produced reprint of the Clan's Selection of poems from John Unwin and family who had joined us all in Milton in 2001 and gone away mumbling that "something ought to be done about the poor print". Well done there and thanks.

The moral of the story is clearly to take no account of Lady Avril's Complaint in future and to note that there is a major opportunity for a comprehensive showbizz presentation of Burns that Orient Express has not yet taken..... watch this space for the Clan's next big night out in 2003.

Published Date: January 26th 2002

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