Old folk at lunch

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A time for traditions

The Left have done their best to destroy all that is traditional in our society but people like traditions. They like connections with their past and with other people past and present. A couple of billion people in the Far East actually worship their ancestors!

So the traditions that have survived the Leftist onslaught are much celebrated. A great Australian tradition is ANZAC day in which we remember our war dead. And far from it being a celebration for old fogies, it goes from strength to stength, with young people joining in the ceremonies in droves. Precisely because they have so little left in the way of traditions, many young people seize on ANZAC day eagerly as a way of helping them understand and relate to their past.

And yesterday and today were days of other traditions that are growing rather than dying out. The first was on Wednesday: Burns night. It is of course a celebration of the life and work of Scotland's greatest poet, always held on his birthday, 25th January -- and there now more Burns Night suppers in England than in Scotland, which is another indication of how people grab onto those traditions that have not been snatched away from them. And Burns Night is in fact a cluster of traditions. There are quite a lot of things that one traditionally does on Burns night and I usually do a fair few of them, varying from year to year.

We had all the traditional food yesterday -- led of course by the haggis -- but also including tatties and neeps, oatcakes, Dunlop cheese, clootie dumpling, tablet etc. We played pipe music, welcomed in the haggis with a recitation of the Burns poem to that effect and then toasted it in Scotch whisky.

Present were Anne and myself, Jill and Lewis and Paul and Susan. And we also had Vonnie with us for a while via Skype from New Zealand. She seemed very pleased to see me in the kilt.

I am normally pretty quiet on social occasions but I got into the Scotch rather a lot so that loosened my tongue and I may in fact have talked as much as Paul, which takes some doing. I probably made admissions that I shouldn't! Anyway, we all enjoyed the food and the poems and I even ventured a solo rendition of "Scotland the brave". It was probably pretty brave of people to listen to me as I am not much of a singer.

Matthew wearing a Scottish cap -- with proud mother

5-month-old Matthew was of course the star of the occasion and in good sentimental style we talked at some length about his education. We decided to send him to a Catholic primary school, followed possibly by a secondary education at Eton. He should be smart enough and robust enough to do well at the latter. But Paul and I would have to find the large fees involved to give him that advantage, of course.

It was quite late when we wound up after all that.

At table eating our Burns supper

And today was Australia Day. Australia Day commemorates the landing in Australia of the first settlers from England and there are always grumbles from the miseries on the Left that it should really be called "invasion day" or the like. For many years it was little celebrated but again the very fact that it is a tradition and commemoration that has survived makes it popular these days. Lots of people now fly the Australian flag on their cars on that day.

My family on my mother's side have celebrated it for many years with a lunchtime BBQ and it was good to see today quite a rollup, with people we hadn't seen for a while. I brought along some leftovers from Burns night and talked mostly to Peter and my brother as I usually do.

Peter is very au fait with all things Chinese and I know a fair bit about German so we agreed that the expression that the Chinese use to describe their country can adequately be translated into German ("Mittelreich") but not into English. Many are the woes of translators!

And, as usual, it was a great pleasure to see and hear Peter's vivacious Eurasian daughter, Michelle.

Peter is my cousin once removed and we are the "brains" of the family. It's a very bright family but Peter and I are the only academics.

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