Monday, May 21, 2007
Arrived In Edinburgh, Scotland
Arrived in "Auld Reekie" today, after a surprisingly harmless Delta flight via Atlanta. The brethren, Ken McNab and Ian Reilly, of Scottish Masonic Tours who arranged the tour package for the group have done a terrific job so far.
I am here for the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry, and I am in august company indeed.
Met up with brethren from San Diego (Dan Sola, an inspector for the Grand Lodge of California; Fred Kleyn, Treasurer of Lux Lodge No. 846; John Heisner, author of Meditations on Masonic Symbolism, and his wife Margot), and Dr. Everett Waller and his wife Virginia from Sioux City, Iowa. We visit Bannockburn tomorrow and Rosslyn on Wednesday.
I spent the afternoon wandering the streets around the George Hotel, and had me first two pints and fish and chips at the Kenilworth Pub (named after Brother Sir Walter Scott's novel), just behind Freemason's Hall.
I haven't drunk enough to buy a kilt yet. But I am avoiding the scotch for the first day, so that could change. I dunno. Little chubby German boys are supposed to wear lederhosen, not skirts.
To my everlasting horror, my cell phone works here, and so far, Alice, my bank, my accountant, my attorney, my brother, my mother, our roofer and two of our residents have discovered it. Rats.
The serious business will start tomorrow after the cotton-like jet lag wears off. So I will simply leave you with this bit of inspiration by our brother, the Bard of Scotland, Robert Burns:
Let other poets raise a fracas
Bout vines, and wines, an drucken Bacchus,
An crabbit names an stories wrack us,
An grate our lug;
I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,
In glass or jug.
O thou, my Muse! guid auld Scotch drink!
Whether thro wimplin worms thou jink,
Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,
In glorious faem,
Inspire me, till I lisp an wink,
To sing thy name!
Let husky wheat the haughs adorn,
An aits set up their awnie horn,
An pease and beans, at e'en or morn,
Perfume the plain:
Leeze me on thee, John Barleycorn,
Thou king o grain!
On thee aft Scotland chows her cood,
In souple scones, the wale o food!
Or tumbling in the boiling flood
Wi kail an beef;
But when thou poors thy strong heart's blood
There thou shines chief.
Food fills the wame, an keeps us livin;
Tho life's a gift no worth receivin,
When heavy-dragg'd wi pine an grievin;
But oi'd by thee,
The wheels o life gae down-hill, scrievin,
Wi rattlin glee.
Thou clears the head o doited Lear,
Thou cheers the heart o droopin Care;
Thou strings the nerves o Labour sair,
At's weary toil;
Thou ev'n brightens dark Despair
Wi gloomy smile.
Aft, clad in massy siller weed,
Wi gentles thou erects thy head;
Yet humbly kind in time o need,
The poor man's wine:
His wee drap parritch, or his bread,
Thou kitchens fine.
Thou art the life o public haunts;
But thee, what were our fairs and rants?
Ev'n godly meetings o the saunts,
By thee inspir'd,
When, gaping, they besiege the tents,
Are doubly fir'd.
That merry night we get the corn in,
O sweetly, then, thou reams the horn in!
Or reekin on a New-Year mornin
In cog or bicker,
An just a wee drap sp'ritual burn in,
An gusty sucker!
When Vulcan gies his bellows breath,
An ploughmen gather wi their graith,
O rare! to see thee fizz an freath
I' th' lugget caup!
Then Burnewin comes on like death
At every chaup.
Nae mercy, then, for airn or steel;
The brawnie, bainie, ploughman chiel,
Brings hard owrehip, wi sturdy wheel,
The strong forehammer,
Till block anstuddie ring an reel,
Wi dinsome clamour.
When skirlin weanies see the light
Thou maks the gossips clatter bright,
How fumblin cuifs their dearies slight;
Wae worth the name!
Nae howdie gets a social night,
Or plack frae them.
When neebors anger at a plea,
An just as wud as wud can be,
How easy can the barley-brie
Cement the quarrel!
It's aye the cheapest lawyer's fee,
To taste the barrel.
Alake! that e'er my Muse has reason,
To wyte her countrymen wi treason!
But monie daily weet their weason
Wi liquors nice,
An hardly, in a winter season,
E'er spier her price.
Wae worth that brandy, burnin trash!
Fell source o monie a pain an brash!
Twins monie a poor, doylt, drucken hash
O half his days;
An sends, beside, auld Scotland's cash
To her warst faes.
Ye Scots, wha wish aould Scotland well!
Ye chief, to you my tale I tell,
Poor, plackless devils like myself!
It sets you ill,
Wi bitter, dearthfu wines to mell,
Or foreign gill.
May gravels round his blather wrench,
An gouts torment him, inch by inch,
Wha twists his gruntle wi a glunch
O sour disdain,
Out owre a glass o whisky-punch
Wi honest men!
O Whisky! soul o plays an pranks!
Accept a Bardie's gratefu thanks!
When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
Are my poor verses!
Thou comes - they rattle i' their ranks
At ither's arses!
Thee, Ferintosh! O sadly lost!
Scotland lament frae coast to coast!
Now colic grips, an barkin hoast
May kill us a';
For loyal Forbes charter'd boast
Is taen awa!
Thae curst horse-leeches o th' Excise,
Wha mak the whisky stells their price!
Haud up thy han', Deil! ance, twice, thrice!
There, seize the blinkers!
An bake them up in brunstane pies
For poor damn'd drinkers.
Fortune! if thou'll but gie me still
Hale breeks, a scone, an whisky gill,
An rowth o rhyme to rave at will,
Tak a' the rest,
An deal't about as thy blind skill
Directs thee best.