A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 157

Dead poet's society

A dead poet, Mr. Robert Burns of Scotland, was honored at an annual supper organized by Farmington resident Rantin Ramgunshoch on Jan. 27. As usual, those foolhardy enough to accept an invitation were swamped with regret, though the most dreadful aspect of this year's affair was not the haggis-ridden meal, but Ramgunshoch's monumentally boring speech which followed.

The food, one must grudgingly admit, was edible, although the soup was so thick it was like drinking damp vegetables, and the stovies could have successfully plugged holes in a dyke around a Dutch polder. As for the haggis, invented by the Scots as a masochistic alternative to starvation, one's palate was sufficiently distracted from the taste of sheep's organs by the tang of mace, nutmeg and Jamaican pepper, as to allow a polite amount to be choked down, thus escaping one's name being jotted in old Ramgunshoch's notebook.

Ramgunshoch's face did blacken, however, when, after being blasted by bagpipe music, the haggis was ceremoniously stabbed by a guest with such venom that the knife pierced the disposable aluminum foil tray in which it sat.

"Hoots, mon, noo ah cannae use that tray ony mair and ah've only had six months wear oot o' it," said Farmington's well-known skinflint. He brightened visible when someone suggested duct tape.

Then came the green salad, contributed by the Courier sports department, and which could more accurately be described as a green oasis in a gastromomic desert, for the ensuing course was clootie dumplin', something boiled for many hours in a cloth and having the density and texture of ironstone. That people could swallow it all was entirely due to the "dumplin" being smeared in a syllabub, a bizarre concoction of brandy, lemon juice, white wine, sugar and cream. Next came a Drambuie toast. And then came the awful speech.

Ramgunshoch raised the audience's hopes initially, by declaring that a series of untoward events had conspired to prevent him from writing a Robert Burns address. But he would ad lib, he confided, causing several disappointed persons to slump weary elbows into leftover bowls of syllabub-drenched dumplin'.

Survivors of the speech, when interviewed afterwards, could only mumble about the dates. 1759 when Burns was born. 1765 when he went to school. 1766 when he dropped out to help his father grow potatoes. 1787 when his poems were published. And 1796 when he died, penniless, of some depressing ailment or other. Had it finished there the speech would have been gained Burns a number of sympathy votes, and people could have commenced to enjoy themselves among the several cases of American beer which had been amassed in a snow bank near Mr. R's front door.

But suddenly Ramgunshoch slipped back in time to the Union of the Scottish and English Parliaments in 1707. He raged about Jacobite rebellions in 1715 and 1745-46, the sedition laws of 1795, and someone unlucky enough to be hung, drawn, quartered, and made into sausages later that same year. By now, flecks of white foam around Ramgunshoch's mouth were causing alarm among the guests, and the knife, which had earlier stabbed the haggis and the aluminum tin foil, was carefully inched out of his reach.

A few people thought they glimpsed light at the end of the tunnel as Ramgunshoch pounded and raved his way through the 19th century, snarling at Sir Walter Scott, and praising some revolting weavers in the process. Hopes soared among the crowd as Ramgunshoch showered verbal rose petals on a 1920's troublemaker called McLean, and the Ban the Bomb ragtags of the 1960s. Cries of relief were on everyone's lips as Ramgunshoch reached 1990, babbling wildly about Nelson Mandela. Then, horror of horrors! O me miserum! Ramgunshoch was back to 1707, and the Union of the Parliaments again.

Someone told her therapist later that the regression produced a dreadful sensation, like being buried alive. Another woman has since suffered recurring nightmares, where she imagines the ascending dates to be steel rungs leading up out of a dark and frightening pit. Then the last rung, 1990, comes away in her grasp, plunging her back to the loathsome depths of 1707, screaming "Raaaabie Buuurns" as she falls . . .

As the curtains are drawn on Ramgunshoch for now, future invitees to his annual Robert Burns' Supper can't say they haven't been well warned!

School news

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. Memorial Drive PTA is sponsoring a question and answer coffee session in the new cafeteria. (Example Q. - When were the Scottish and English parliaments amalgamated? A. - 1707.)

Woman's Club news

As accurately predicted by investigative reporter par excellence, yours truly, Bunnies 'n Things did not appear at the club on Jan. 19, due to the bunnies being eaten or otherwise disposed of in December.

Henry Wilson Grange news

Before we get started on this, let me say there are still a few Henry Wilson (WOOOF) badges available at the all-time low price of 98 cents each.

Now, on with the show. Hilda Tucker writes than on Jan. 2, Eleanor Londo and Diane Condon were given the first and second degree, with Donald Welch present. There was a rummage sale on Feb. 3 and another is coming up on Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The meeting on Feb. 14 will be on health and Valentines. Everyone should bring a card and a poem.

The Henry Wilson Grange is sorry to hear Sister Laura Worster has been ill and confined to hospital. Hurry home and be well . . . is the message.

Feb. 5, 1990

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