Robert Burns

We’ve recently become acquainted with a lovely (and somewhat deadly) couple – Peter and Amy Wardle. What makes them “deadly” will become apparent as I proceed through the recounting of this particular evening. Lately, Peter and Amy have taken it upon themselves to host an annual Burn’s Night Supper. They have been doing this for at least five years and perhaps longer. Much longer would put Amy back into puberty so I’ll just say five years and leave it at that.

For more about who Robert [Rabbie to us] Burns was and the places he slept and the women he slept with and the Counties he set about impregnating single…er, handedly you could go here;

To absorb some of the finer (and grosser) points of a Burns Dinner and how they can sometimes play out and be conducted you could try here;

and here;

Last year was my first Burn’s Night Supper and since it was my turn in the barrel and Pete had somehow gotten the impression that I am high verbal and not terribly shy he asked me to perform “The Immortal Memory” speech, where Robert Burns life is reviewed and celebrated. I found this to be a fascinating task and ended up with reams of material. In fact I went on far too long and the kitchen staff had to be paid overtime while wine and cheese aged at a ferocious pace. But it seems I didn’t embarrass myself any more than anyone else who’d had that much to drink – and we’d ALL been drinking – so we were invited back. Huzzah!

While I performed this speechifying Pete was lying in wait – clever bastard that he is – with his own variation on “The Ode to a Haggis”. To wit, what Pete had done was adapted Ernest L. Thayer’s CASEY AT THE BAT in it’s entirety into some sort of mad epic about smuggling haggis from the UK into the Pennsylvania hinterlands of Bucks County.

Line for line. Stanza for stanza. It was a brilliant and evil trump card. But I am a patient man. Or, I am learning to be. So I decided IF my opportunity ever came around again I would retaliate. And lo and behold the invite came. This year Pete switched things up in the batting order and asked if I would do the “Toast to the Lasses”. Pete is also under the impression that on top of not being shy, that I also happen to like women. Just how he acquires these notions I’m not quite sure. So I said, “sure Pete, no problem. Say, would you mind if I also wrote another piece for the table while I’m at it?” Looks off into the corner. Whistles a happy tune. Drums fingers. “That’s fine? Great.” Trap = sprung.

So, comes the evening and I did do the Toast to the Lasses and that went rather well, as did the Lasses response. All well and good. But the piece I had been waiting to read was my newly minted “Toast to the Hosts”.

Join me now as I rise, check my jacket pocket, look again, pat my outer jacket pockets, look inside said jacket once more, check front and back pants pockets, looking uncomfortable I begin to twist, grimace, bend slightly at the waist… AND PULL THIS OUT OF MY ASS!!!

[Readers and former diners and sharers of finger food we’ll be pleased as punch to know that this was an optical illusion and that the manuscript was paper clipped to the inside of my belt. I am only willing to go so far for Art.]

All you will need to know for the rest is that there are more than a few wine courses with this dinner and that Pete always wears a kilt. And that all of this really does rhyme if you mangle enough UK regional accents. No. Really. Ok, screw you.

So, to the tune of my father’s all-time favorite poem, Rudyard Kipling’s GUNGA DIN

I give you my Toast to the Hosts – Pete & Amy Wardle.

Ruddy Pete (formerly Gunga Din)

Or, digging up and defiling a dead poet laureate.

YOU may talk of wine and beer

When you’re seated safe in here

Or you’re sent to liquor stores to buy some plonk

But when it comes to drinking

And getting really stinking

It’s the Wardle’s that you’ll hie thee to for drunk!
Now in PA’s dismal clime

Where I used to spend my time

A Servin’ of Her Majesty the Queen

Of all that guzzling crew

The finest man I knew

Was our gourmandastic beastie, Ruddy Pete.
It was Pete! Pete! Pete!

That trans-Atlantic haggis smuggler, Ruddy Pete!

Wine! Get it! Hurry! Now!!!

Go and milk the vineyards cow!

We don’t care how you get it Ruddy Pete!
Now the Scottish Kilt he wore

Was nothing much before

And sadly less than aff of that behind

But amongst the Wardle Clan

Easy access was the plan

As he and Mrs. Wardle did recline
But back now to this Burns Dinner

And this groaning board for sinners

You should see the way these folks would entertain!

Vertical or horizontal

With wine or women, there’s a mouth full

Many courses, was that Wardle plan sublime.
Yes it was Pete! Pete! Pete!

You British transport, where in mischief have you been?

You’ve stuffed these guests to bursting

No more eating, no more thirsting

Better bring an extra leg to Ruddy Pete’s!
Oh he would drink and carry on

‘til our last glass of Port was gone

And ‘e didn’t seem to have no use for beer

Be it white wine or with red

He’d have us swimming to our beds

Gotten well and truly snockered, have no fear

For with a cellar full of plunder

He would drink the table under

Where guests no longer sober – disappeared!

Hey G’day and good luck to you

Wardle’s drinking? Glad I knew ya!

You’ll be pissing 9% between the tears!
For it was Pete! Pete! Pete!

With his EX-sober guests left swerving down the street!

When post-prandials run out you can hear those ingrates shout

It’s another State Store run for poor mad Pete!
Now I shant forget the night…
No! I shant forget the night

Or that gastronomic plight

When wine and haggis came and knocked me off my feet

With my stomach full of bullocks

Says this sadistic UK lummox

“Have another little drink!? says Bloody Pete!
Soze he lifted up me head

All my senses having fled

And he gives me one more glass of wine serene

It was “complex? and it spoke!

And it said, “Ain’t he a bloke??

Pontificating Wine from Ruddy Pete
It was Pete! Pete! Pete!

Here’s a houseguest with a headache most compleat

He’s goosing kitchen staff

And he’s farting just for laughs

For Gawd’s sake, give him water Ruddy Pete!
So they made me take a seat, room stopped spinning, there’s a treat

When the booze tab came and drilled the bugger clean.

“I’ve got this one? he sighed – and just before he died

“I hope you liked your drinks says Ruddy Pete!
So I’ll meet him later on in that place that we’ll have gone

Where it’s always closing time and no latrine

He’ll be squatting on the coals

Decanting plonk for poor damned souls

And I’ll get a swig in hell from Ruddy Pete!
For its Pete! Pete! Pete!

You vineyard boosting bastard Ruddy Pete!

Though I’ve rebuked you and I’ve punk’d you

Only Bacchus has out drunk you

Here’s to our gracious hosts and Ruddy Pete!
Barney Dannelke

De-Composed on Burn’s Night at Cannon’s 01/25/06