A continuing tale of life in the boonies
Winners spurn haggis tasting
Two successful entrants in a competition that asked readers why they loved haggis, then rejected the first prize - a chance to eat it publicly at a Rabbie Burns Supper in Farmington.
A local man, Joe Henry, when told he was the lucky winner, initially expressed lukewarm enthusiasm for his invite to the Scottish banquet of sheep's organs, but, mysteriously, he called later to say his attendance was no longer possible. Second placed Lois Crowley of New Durham, on being informed that her competition entry was now top of the heap, suddenly remembered that she had urgent business in Vermont.
A slightly disgruntled Mr. Ramgunshoch, sole member of the Farmington Burns Society, then bestowed the laurel wreath on well-known poet Blanche Magee. Demonstrating an inability to think on her feet, Magee let slip that her social calendar was blank on the evening in question, and felt obligated to accept the guest-of-honor role. (More details next week regarding what transpired at the Burns Supper, when police logs become available and survivors are interviewed.)
Meanwhile, a short selection and critique of the "Why I love haggis" entries follows:
David McMeekin of Barrington, asked "How can one not love haggis?" He recalled chasing a wounded specimen over the Scottish moors, which, when cornered, spat oatmeal in his face. Sorry, Mr. McMeekin. To win, not only was it necessary for you to love haggis, haggis had to love you.
Terrie Nickerson of New Durham, in her four verse poem entitled Haggis Schmaggis concluded
… and anagrams to be found
Gag, hag, gas and sigh
Do I really want to taste this?
Heck, I'll give it a try.
After suggesting that haggis tasted like snails and cement, Nickerson's last line gave the impression of being penned under duress.
Walter Harris of Brookfield submitted a more upbeat ballad, called Hymn to Haggis, and sung to the tune of Amazing Grace. This was extremely witty, but the author, in his own words, "thumbed his nose at the 100-word limitation." Here are two of the many verses, along with a chorus:
One day in the desert,
Five thousand were fed
With five loaves and fishes, they say.
If haggis were handy
They’d no need for God,
A little will go a long way.
Chorus: Aye, haggis it helpeth
The weary and weak,
It cleanseth thy sins out of thee;
It maketh the gimpy
To walk - nay, to run;
It maketh blind Englishmen see.
We all pray for heaven
To sit at the throne,
Where sweetness and harmony dwell;
But...if there's no haggis,
Just nectar and stuff,
We'll join all the pipers in hell.
Marilyn Robicheau of Farmington, a winner of yesteryear, got off to a good start, as a wee bairn sitting on her daddy's knee. However, by the time she had got up to date, she had praised haggis to the tune of 400 words over the limit, thereby disqualifying herself.
A letter full of scurrilous abuse arrived from the Little Bo Peep Club of the Falkland Islands. How it bore a Rochester postmark is a mystery.
Joe Henry submitted a rash of high standard entries, some drooling over haggis, other directing impudence towards it. Under torture, he admitted responsibility for this one, written on the back of a Budweiser label:
Little Boy Blue,
Go get out your spoon
The sheep’s in the oven
It’s quarter till noon.
Why is the police lass
At Ramgunshoch's door?
A Nute Shrop is missing –
…The Great Judge is sore!
At the cutting edge of technology, Lois Crowly dashed off her poem on an IBM computer complete with a row of steaming two-legged haggi, to round off the page. Obsequious couplets like that below, attracted the attention of the Ramgunshoch:
As far as "waste not, want not" goes, and reason for creation
For such a wondrous feast as this, we thank the Scottish nation.
However, it was Blanche Magee, president of the eminently respectable Farmington Woman's Club, that fate decreed to be the Burns Supper special guest, with a warm but brief account of choking down haggis in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1984. Congratulations are extended to her, and thanks are conveyed to all those other entrants who had nothing better to do with their time.
News is filtering in of protracted negotiations between Mr. Ramgunshoch and a Mr. Joseph Melville of Hampton Falls. The latter is president of Loon Mountain Highland Games, and is also organizer of New Hampshire's official Robert Burns night slated for Yoken's Restaurant, Portsmouth, on Jan. 28.
Ramgunshoch is attempting to sell Melville a sagging helium balloon, originally costing $3.25, and bearing the now puckered legend, "Happy Birthday, Rabbie Burns."
January 23, 1989
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