Last night, Mrs. Hatboy and I were pleased to secure invitations to a celebratory dinner at Suomenlinna, for the Finnish Scottish Society’s first annual Burns Supper.
This celebrates Burns Day / Burns Night, which is the day of the Scottish national poet, Robert “Rabbie” Burns. I was involved because, due to a long chain of amusing events in recent history, I’d become known to the Society as a bagpiper who would play for pints.
So, after the professional pipers priced themselves out of the market, the gig was mine for half a bottle of excellent scotch, a few beers, and all the fish stew, haggis, neeps, tatties and clooty dumplings Mrs. Hatboy and I could eat.
A brilliant night ensued. We met up with another fun couple and plugged my books to them and got them interested in Worldcon and cosplaying (at least … I want to say Lisa but I’m afraid I don’t remember exactly, Lisa was keen but her husband Lauri was doubtful. Call it a work in progress).
Dinner was brilliant. I piped in the haggis for them and that was a great success, even though clapping and boot-stomping to Highland Cathedral tends to make it too fast to handle. The address was recited marvellously, I piped us off with Scotland the Brave, and that was my obligation over for the night. The haggis was excellent.
Not sure if the links will work but give it a go. Otherwise I’ll find a way of getting them onto YouTube.
The highlight of the night, for me, was when we were heading home on the ferry with a bunch of drunk teenagers-or-twentysomethings. They were singing Eppu Normaali and basically being kids. Fun but a little bit grating for an old fart. So I got up, took my pipes out onto the deck, and played Amazing Grace as we crossed Helsinki harbour.
The video really doesn’t do it justice. Definite highlight of the night.
It was glorious. There was low cloud and the Suomenlinna lighthouse and the city lights shone through it, there was ice on the water and my fingers were freezing. And one of the kids from inside the boat had a religious experience and just knelt in front of me while I played (you can see him at the start of the video). He’s only human I guess.
In a still more amusing moment, we were told to look under our seats to see if we could find anything taped there. There was a selection of interesting Robbie Burns facts. We were instructed to come up and read out our fact, and get a shot of whiskey for our trouble. I went up with a Robbie Burns fact and a “Product of Finland” sticker I had ripped off my seat. I demanded two shots of whiskey, and got them.
What a great night.