Sunday, 25 January 2009

Burns Night and Haggis

Since publishing on 2009 anniversaries earlier this month, I keep coming across more. Today, for example, is not only the Conversion of St Paul but Burns Night - and, indeed, the 250th anniversary of the poet's birth. To mark this we had some delicious haggis at Sunday lunch in the presbytery.

Eating haggis reminded me of the small part it played in the conversion of our first parish priest here at Kingsland, Fr William Lockhart (a disciple of Newman and Rosmini) while he was a student at Exeter College, Oxford. In the early 1840s he attended the annual Scotch dinner for St Andrew’s Day, held in the Union rooms. It was a happy evening of whisky, Jacobite songs, toasts to Archbishop Laud and ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, and a menu of oyster soup, haggis and ‘cockie-leeky.’ Afterwards, Lockhart walked round the Parks with a friend to sober up and declared: ‘I am in a state now in which I might be drawn into any wickedness.’ The following morning he went to see Dr Sewell at Exeter and asked to confess the previous night’s excesses. Sewell refused and offered him a dose of Epsom salts instead of absolution, Lockhart later commenting ‘I came away from that ass at once. I asked my father for bread, and he gave me a stone. I asked for fish, - he gave me a scorpion.' Not long afterwards he joined Newman at Littlemore and soon converted to Rome, one of the main issues being the forgiveness of post-baptismal sins.

To celebrate today's anniversary, here is what I consider to be one of the finest sights and sounds in these fair isles:



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