Ladies and Gentlemen
Sometimes it is difficult to know where to draw the line between real life as we live it day to day and the life in between. That is the life of our dreams and even our fantasies. Certainly we could not have dreamt up this evening. Yet every one of us here is a part of it. It is real, it is happening and tomorrow it will all be as if it were a dream. Or it may be real for a little while longer, if we have drunk too much.
We will, above all, be glad we came. We are here and it is my pleasure to be able to thank our hosts for that privilege. We thank them too for all the trouble they have gone to ensure that Burn's night lives up to expectation. That, if you think about it, is some tradition to live up to. If there is one night a year when expectation is high it is tonight. How could you go wrong with such a fabulous treasure of verse to draw from? Add that to great company, a drink or two and wonderful food and you have an unbeatable combination. Tonight really has been really special.
What an opportunity we have to be able to listen in such a setting and with such an atmosphere. Along with such wonderful accompaniment we have been privileged to enjoy some of the greatest verse and stories ever written down. Tonight we are transported to some magical inn in the Scottish countryside where at the hearthside we come again to know and appreciate some great characters. It is real as we listen. We believe it, or perhaps we are simply drawn in, wishing it to be so.
I wonder if Burns ever crossed the line between his poetry and real life. We certainly get the impression that his life, as he lived it, is there on the page. Surely writing invested with such resonance and feeling must have come directly from the heart. What can you say that has not been said a thousand times before and in a thousand better ways? We try not to feel intimidated. We let the feelings come through and although we are not Robbie Burns, I think we must, in some way, receive his approval and even his blessing.
Perhaps then that is how we connect. It may not matter where the line is if we are coming from the heart. Our hosts tonight made their invitation to the guests from the heart. We accepted gladly from the heart. Tonight the food, the company, the toasts, the poetry and songs are all from the heart.
Like a good medicine and soul food surely it must be sending all sorts of positive messages through the brain and around the body. We thank you for a wonderful and very cultured evening. We will surely dream well tonight and if a few drams help us to do so, we won’t object to sampling your hospitality.